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Healthcare Key Findings August 2013

“Reality Mining” App Alerts Docs of Illness

reality mining appA novel new smartphone app can alert healthcare providers when the behavior of patients with diabetes or mental illness indicates a potential medical problem.

The early warning system relies on technology that is increasingly standard on smartphones — global positioning systems and accelerometers that track user location and movement. The app can look for signs that something in the user’s normal routine has changed. For a depressive, the app can tell if the user is not taking phone calls or is staying at home. If a diabetic shows signs of lethargy, a nurse can contact the patient to remind him or her to take medication.

Spun out of MIT’s Media Lab in 2011, inventors of the app hope it will save lives and help patients’ control medical costs that can occur when patients stop taking medication and must be treated by a physician or hospital.

The app is currently available for the Android and the iPhone, but must be activated by a hospital or healthcare company. It is being tested by about 14 medical centers in the U.S. So far, patients like the app because they have quicker access to caregivers. Doctors are looking to expand tests of the app to patients with heart problems, chronic back pain and gastrointestinal tract disorders.


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