Summer is a wonderful time to slow down a little and think about a lot of “what ifs”. And, of course, every once in a while there comes along an article that sheds light on emerging trends that have the potential to impact us as we get older. So, a recent Wall Street Journal feature highlighted the emergence of how our smart phones are and will be a key tool in keeping us healthy. Many of us may have “health” app on our phones, a Fit-Bit or similar electronic tool that keeps us, we hope, “in touch”. Yet, according to the Wall Street Journal article “The Smart Medicine Solution” we may be at the beginning of a great revolution that marries electronics and health. (Wall Street Journal. Saturday/Sunday July 8,9, 2017 Page C-1. www.wsj.com) The piece, by Dr Eric Topol, outlines the growth of sophisticated monitoring uses available on smart phones. They are aiding diagnostic procedures and, it seems, we are about to see an explosion in such applications and devices. The author makes an argument that the use of such devices can save money and cites staggering statistics on the costs associated with health care ($10,000 a year for each of us U.S. government costs). Dr. Topol cites the possibility that these monitoring devices can “replace hospital stays with remote monitoring in the patient’s home”. To counter soaring costs (he discusses ultra sound scans)he notes that “we now have ultrasound probes that connect with a smart phone and provide exquisite resolution
comparable to hospital lab machines. It is possible to examine any part of the body (except the brain)simply by connecting the probe to the base of a smartphone and putting a little gel on the probe’s tip.”
I am sure there are ethical issues here. How hack-proof would these be? What if something goes amiss at home? What about follow up if the scan detects something? What is sure is that we are going to be presented in the next few years with an astounding array of choices that will be helpful (we hope) to keep us in touch and in health. We will discussing some of this in an upcoming Jewish Sacred Aging pod cast with the immediate past president of the AMA. Look for the pod cast within the next month on www.jewishsacredaging.com or the site’s Facebook page.
Rabbi Richard F Address