IOT for Health: Enter Braincheck
Those closely observing the sharing economy will notice the recent surge in investments as concerns the healthcare sector. From Practo to Heal, all sorts of apps are now making healthcare available remotely, and this has an extremely desirable consequence – the revolution of healthcare through the IOT.
The Internet of Things (IOT) is a buzzword thrown around in tech forums the world over nowadays, often occurring in conjunction with the concept of ‘smart cities’.
Essentially, when we use devices that have the capability to connect to the internet in a seamless, connected network – then we are utilising IOT. Think smartphones, tablets, computers in various administrative sectors all sharing information remotely, in order to procure information, analyse it and execute certain tasks.
If a criminal on the streets is recognized by a camera whose feed is being uploaded on a secure cloud server, then an operative can access this feed via an app or relay on his/her own device – matching the criminal against a database etc. are also tasks carried out in this process. All of these are part of the IOT in place for crime enforcement.
Smart Cities are those that carry on the technological, utopian vision of true interconnectivity. This is where tech is used for raising living standards and making a city efficient not only in terms of business optimization, but also saving up on energy and time wasted in decision-making processes. The smart city ideally can cater to the needs of all its citizens due to having their records on an online grid/database – always ready for verification and monitoring. Most smart cities also envisage themselves to be environmentally sustainable and energy efficient.
Healthcare, thus, is an important aspect in the smart city vision. All citizens have a basic right to healthcare. If monitoring systems are not astute, this can be grossly neglected. Every systemic level can be prone to abuse, since the sector is extremely profitable; and susceptible to profiteering. The costs of healthcare, conventionally, are also on the higher side – these can be minimized with the IOT in place.
There are many sorts of app-based services in this case – over 42, if a report on the CBInsights is to be believed, having raised over $1.3 billion in 2015 alone. You can call in doctors for medical checkups with Heal, get blood tests done remotely via Iggbo and order for all your medicine requirements from Teladoc (until a point).
Thus, the healthcare sector can be divided into sub-sections depending on the kind of healthcare aspect the app handles. It can be diagnosis, medicine acquisition, the uploading of medical records, consultations or the whole shebang. Even within the healthcare sector, physiological diseases are often easier to monitor using mobile technology – but psychological ones can be tricky to manage and keep track of.
This is where BrainCheck comes in. Let us examine the service in some depth, for analysing its efficacy.
BrainCheck: One Concussion At A Time
Healthcare, and the need of continuous monitoring often becomes invasive for the average citizen. This is doubly true for psychological and neurological diseases as they are harder to diagnose and detect. One of the underlying reasons for this is that head injuries fall under the ambit of normal, pain-relief based healthcare, and neurological damage can be overlooked.
Athletes and others who have to move around considerably on their jobs are more prone to these obviously, but there aren’t many people that can avoid head injuries altogether. Even if the injury seems inconsequential, there needs to be some sort of check-up done in order to verify whether functionality is still optimal.
BrainCheck has been founded by Dr David Eagleman, after 20 years of research conducted at the Eagleman Laboratory for Perception and Action. Many doctors still rely on elaborate, paper-based tests to diagnose mental health and function. These are made accessible to the lay person on their smartphone, granting them remote access to evaluate for themselves.
These tests also come in the form of simple games on the BrainCheck app, which anybody can easily use. The functionality is obvious: assuming you’re an athlete and have gotten a concussion, you can use your scores on these games prior to the app and compare after the injury. If there are lapses, then treatment should be sought. These apps can also verify the efficacy of the treatment depending on whether you get back to normative scoring on these apps.
Thus, it enables individuals to monitor their own mental health while also trying to mitigate long-term problems that may arise due to oversight.
This is not all. All the app downloaders, or service users are uplinked onto their database, which becomes an invaluable tool for analytics as to how effective their app is. In addition, it serves as a monitoring tool overall, with profiles for patients that may not be on the grid for whatever reasons.
The tests themselves have been meticulously designed after years of research on concussion and related neurological disorders – thus, its legitimacy is sound. It also has built in mechanisms in case someone cheats on these tests, making it all the more practical for baseline use. The app is also being submitted for certification by the Food and Drug administration to distinguish itself from other, run of the mill apps that may be spurious.
Several schools and other administrations are using this app for pilot-tests and on a daily basis for athletes that cannot have a doctor on the side lines to administer tests after injuries.
The Future: Fast, Cheap, Efficient and Healthy
As neurological health is an immensely important criterion for a healthy employee in many industries, the potential for this app is immense. Companies can examine this as an integrated option for clearing employees – while on the job too, if needed.
Yael Katz, the CEO, is confident that her service will grow. She has been approached by Oil, Gas and Trucking companies, looking to monitor their employees’ mental health via the app. ‘Work Readiness’ tests are going to be their next focus, where the status of the employee can be assessed on the fly – the examples cited were those of whether a bus driver is drunk on the job or not, or whether the airline pilot is in peak functioning capacity for the next flight.
Another disease they are also working to integrate is the far more dangerous dementia. This is altogether more important as detection in later stages for it is lethal – cures only work during the initial stages – making a speedy assessment tool like BrainCheck a blessing in the healthcare industry.
The IOT approach to healthcare is slowly revolutionising the industry – while it is lucrative, a venture will also be socially very rewarding. BrainCheck is but a shining example of the same.