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Why The Smartphone Physical Isn’t Ready for Prime Time

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend TedMed 2013 in Washington DC. One of the highlights of the conference was a technology showcase area, staffed by a number of start-ups and healthcare innovators looking to show off their wares. One booth, sponsored by Steelcase and Medgadget, offered to provide a ‘smartphone physical’ utilizing 10 of the latest generation medical diagnostic devices built to work with the iPhone. The experience left me wanting.

Nice Socks.

Nice Socks.

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Prologue: Quantified Health

Quantified HealthI wanted a FitBit for Christmas. After all, working in digital tech, it seemed like something I should have right? After some research about the FitBit, Nike FuelBand and others, it felt like the device most suited for my entry into the quantified self world, so I put it on my Christmas list. My wife, often not knowing quite what to get the geek who has everything, happily ordered it from Amazon and placed it under the tree.

But a weird thing happened to me over Christmas break. I got sick. That may not sound weird, but for me, it’s a big deal. I never get sick. I was dizzy. I had chest pains. I had odd stomach and tummy discomfort. My left arm hurt. Being the holiday week, my primary physician was on vacation, so, given my symptoms I went to nearby redi-care clinic. The doctors there ran various tests and ruled out anything major, but couldn’t tell me what was wrong. Over the next month I saw a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist, my family doctor, the doctors at the redi-clinic (for a follow up) and even had a trip to the ER thrown in for good measure.

What struck me about all of these experiences was that with each interaction, I pretty much had to start from scratch reporting my medical history and the various symptoms I was experiencing. Each doctor would listen patiently and then order various tests, mostly overlapping what the previous doctor had already done. When something was ruled out, it was on to the next doctor. Rinse. Repeat. Read More…