Ford, Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects will collaboratively develop new technology to help drivers monitor health and wellness while in their automobiles.
The alliance was unveiled in a keynote “Doctor in Your Car” at the Digital Health Summit at the International Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.
“People are spending more time in their cars, and with the tremendous growth in mobile healthcare solutions, Ford is dedicated to understanding the value of being able to connect to health and wellness-related services while driving,” said Gary Strumolo, manager of Infotainment, Interiors, Health and Wellness at Ford Research and Innovation. “Our connectivity platform – Ford SYNC – provides easy, voice-controlled access to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and therefore it makes sense to research areas that are important to our customers.”
Officials note that, while chronic illnesses are on the rise, the number of healthcare providers has remained relatively flat – effectively limiting patient access. For this reason and others, people of all ages and from all income groups are taking a more hands-on approach to their own health and wellness.
More people now visit online health sites than go to the doctor’s office, making health and wellness the most popular activity on the Web after email and general searches. According to a study conducted by Pew Research:
- 93 percent said they seek out online health information because it’s convenient – they want to get information on their own timetable, not the doctor’s
- 83 percent said it’s because they can get more information from the Web than they can get from their own doctor
- 80 percent said getting this information privately is important to them
Moreover, beginning last year, medical and healthcare was the third-fastest-growing category of smartphone apps, with more than 17,000 available for download. By 2015, some 500 million people are expected to be using mobile healthcare apps. “Taken together, these trends point to a natural role for the automobile in the emerging digital health and wellness field,” said Strumolo.
Strumolo envisions Ford developing a “car that cares," he says, noting that, as people spend more time in their cars, the ability to manage health and wellness on the go becomes more important, and that there are several reasons why the automobile is an ideal platform for research and development in this area: it’s convenient and private; it facilitates personalized access to the information, products and services people need; it’s a logical place for them to manage their health while they are more often stuck in traffic