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The Medical Panopticon

654343he2.jpgWeb-enabled personal medical information technologies have been a standard item in the futurist's scrapbook for a few years now. It's one of those concepts that's hard to imagine not happening: the demographic, technological, and market pressures for Internet-mediated health technologies aimed at the elderly have terrific momentum.

So it comes as little surprise to see this post in Medgadget, describing the HealthPoint Home Telemetry system. The only thing it's missing are smart implants doing direct somatic monitoring:

The recommended starter kit for the IL service includes the Home HealthPoint, three motion detectors, and an emergency pendant. The motion detectors are strategically placed around the home during the professional installation in the bedroom, at the entrance to the primary bathroom, and in the main trafficked area such as a foyer or living room. Additional sensor devices such as additional motion detectors, access contacts on the refrigerator or doors, a smart pillbox, or IP cameras can be utilized to supplement the monitoring data sets being produced within the home. Safety, comfort, and energy saving devices for the senior can be added such as a networked thermostat, safety lighting in or outside the home, appliance and lighting control accessories, gas leak detectors, air quality & fire detectors, or an IP-based intercom system. 4HM, a member of the Continua Alliance, is a strong advocate of open standards in medical devices and its ControlPoint ™ in-home software is able to support a wide variety of medical diagnostic devices to further supplement the health and well-being information for the senior, including a digital weight scale, a blood-pressure cuff, a glucose meter, or a pulse oximeter, depending on the needs of that particular monitored senior. Lastly, to battle psychological duress and the frequent isolation of a senior living alone– a common difficulty among the elder population that has proven negative health repercussions—4HM has integrated into the solution set friends-and-family photo sharing, interactive health surveys, and health and wellness video education.

It's like Facebook, but with your family and your doctor always looking over your shoulder!

The one big question about home health monitoring that too few people ask is whether the people being monitored want to give family, doctors, and random packet sniffers personalized Total Information Awareness about their every trip to the refrigerator or bathroom. This may end up being a catalyst for health-care robots ("Roomba, MD") -- a system that can pay attention to the patient 24/7 without being judgmental, distractible, or far too personal.


All watched over by machines of loving grace

poem by Richard Brautigan

The Electric Grandmother

short story by Ray Bradbury

This gives "remote kill switch" a whole new meaning.


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