What if high blood pressure was like a broken arm?
That's not just an idle brain teaser. Rather, it's Joseph Kvedar's way of pointing to both the long-standing challenge of healthcare – making people as aware of hidden health conditions as they are of conditions that announce themselves through pain – and the potential of wearable sensors.
"For millennia," he explained, "we sought the help of a physician when we sensed something awry in our daily sensations. Sometimes this is as subtle as 'I just don't feel right,' but sometimes it is as dramatic as an athletic injury or a tooth ache. Those latter circumstances are strong motivators to seek health care services because of the associated pain."
The problem is, Kvedar noted, many other health conditions don't motivate us quite so readily.
"Enter the modern era of wearables and sensors. Sensor technology is going through a sort of Moore's Law type period, with personal health technologies experiencing exponential improvements. The technology is becoming cheaper, smaller, easier to power, etc. So what if high blood pressure was like a broken arm? Think how health care delivery and prevention would change. With the evolution of new sensors, we will be finding out in our lifetimes."
This blog originally appeared on Government Health IT sister site Future Care.