The trend in healthcare today is power to the patient, right on! With increasing practitioner workloads, not to mention the rising cost of all things medical, some resourceful people are helping themselves before making a provider appointment.
One thing just about anyone can do from the comfort of their own home is monitor personal vital statistics like blood pressure and glucose levels.
Besides, why should doctors get all the good toys? I mean tools.
Check out these three helpful new and nifty medical gadgets that can help people help themselves.
1. Infrared Thermometer
Thermometers. What would childhood have been like without them? First, we had fragile little glass tubes filled with toxic mercury that had to be shaken vigorously to force the mercury down the tube for a low reading. Then, the sufferer clenched the hard glass tube between the lips and held under the tongue for ten minutes to get an accurate body temperature reading – that is, if you could angle the slippery wee rod just the right way to reveal how far up the tube your body heat pushed the red or black line of mercury along the printed number gauge. Fun times!
Then along came digital thermometers that could measure body temperature in ten seconds, not ten minutes. That was a big win for the home team.
Now, small infrared thermometers that run on AAA batteries only take one second to provide an accurate reading! That’s got to be good for folks with a “wait problem” – or squirmy kids.
Infrared thermometers measure temperature from a distance, be it miles or less than an inch. They work on something called black body radiation. Sciencing explains:
“Anything at a temperature above absolute zero has molecules inside of it moving around. The higher the temperature, the faster the molecules move. As they move, the molecules emit infrared radiation–a type of electromagnetic radiation below the visible spectrum of light. As they get hotter, they emit more infrared, and even start to emit visible light. That is why heated metal can glow red or even white. Infrared thermometers detect and measure this radiation.”
But infrared thermometers are useful in ways you may never have imagined. Did you know you can measure a car’s running engine temperature with one of these things?
2. Digital stethoscope
Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but strong enough to amplify over 100 times, who wouldn’t want to have their own digital stethoscope? You can listen to anything with a pulse through headphones or earbuds, and the sophisticated device can interface with electronic medical records on a computer, laptop or tablet.
Good-bye goosebumps: toss that chilly metal stethoscope in the drawer and listen to your body talk (figuratively speaking, of course). Listen to sounds within your body without jumping out of your skin.
Even better, some electronic stethoscopes can record and replay audio and/or video. Facility-based health practitioners can share their findings directly with the patient at home. Nurse Theory spells it out for us:
“Being able to record data and replay it back means users can show their patients what they are listening to and save data that can be transferred to the patients’ medical records at a later time.”
Just be sure to keep some spare batteries handy, and know how to change them when the instrument loses its juice. Although more fragile and typically more expensive than their non-digital counterparts, expect future models to improve these shortcomings.
3. Smart Pill Container
Doctors can prescribe medication, but their patients are responsible for taking the correct doses on time. A smart pill container uses a computer chip to light up and sound off when it’s time to take those meds. Skipping a scheduled dosage sets off an alert for a caregiver or patient.
Most smart pill dispensers are round and rotate, with outer compartments to hold pills. The central space houses the electronic components that give the device its intelligence. If you are shopping for one, make sure you like the way it loads, especially if your hand or finger mobility is limited.
Wirecutter tested 22 programmable pill dispensers and rated the GMS Med-e-lert Automatic Pill Dispenser in first place for ease of use, 28 trays with six schedule options, and a lock to restrict access to one dosage at a time. It has six calendar rings so schedules can range from one dose a day for a month to six daily doses for four days. Now that is smart!
These pillboxes smartly connect to your smartphone, too. Who knew that multiple-medication management could be this easy?
Since there are a number of automatic pill dispensers available to choose from, which one is right for you?
Engadget advises the following features make for a good smart pill dispenser:
• Ease of use, including loading, programming, and dispensing
• Ability to remotely monitor interactions with the device
• Capacity, both in doses per day and pill volume per dose
• Simple and loud alerts for the recipient
• Extra features, such as locking or tamperproof cases and Internet connectivity
• A reasonable price or monthly subscription cost
MobiHealthNews describes an extremely nifty smart pill bottle cap:
“Probably the biggest name in connected pillboxes, Vitality’s GlowCaps are cellular-connected caps that fit on regular pill bottles. The caps connect wirelessly to a base station, and both the caps and the station light up when it’s time to take a pill. The cap can also play music, and call the user’s or a caregiver’s phone if they miss a dose. A button on the cap automatically requests a refill of the medication, using AT&T connectivity.”
Just goes to show that doctors aren’t the only ones who get to play with – I mean, use – good toys. Tools!