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Log in to Your Body

Checking in remotely will save time and money

By Rebecca Tolin

Your heart is racing after a stressful day. Instead of heading to urgent care, you reach for your smartphone case and place two fingers on built-in sensors. Not only can you track your own heartbeat, but so can your physician. Light wireless technology can monitor everything from blood pressure to glucose levels. A new clinical trial at the Scripps Translational Science Institute is testing whether three mobile health devices can improve care and save money for patients with common diseases.

“Now, you have to go in to see your primary care physician. You sit in a waiting room for 45 minutes to an hour for a five- to seven-minute consultation, if you’re lucky,” says Cinnamon Bloss, a clinical psychologist overseeing the Wired for Health study. “A lot of that can be done more efficiently and cost-effectively using newer technologies.”

Out of 200 participants with irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and diabetes, half will use devices that connect to an iPhone to measure their health conditions. A patient with diabetes will check blood sugar before meals and, if they’re curious, after that piece of chocolate cake. Researchers hope connectivity will engage patients, and save trips to the doctor or emergency room.

“It’s a little bit like Facebook for health,” says Bloss. “Patients can log in, get their readings, see graphs over time. They have a social network around their health.”

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