New Mobile App May Clue Doctors In When Trouble is Brewing

By Emily Murray

When patients suffer from chronic mental or physical illness, one of the telltale signs that problems are flaring up is isolation. Whether it is depression, chronic pain or something else when people don’t feel well they typically start to withdraw and miss out on the help they really need until they are in crisis. A new mobile app trend may soon be able to alert doctors that something is amiss before patients end up spiraling downhill.

Essentially the app would be able to track calls, texts and movement. If there appears to be a sudden decline or abrupt change in normal activity then the app would be able to alert the doctor or person in charge of medical care so that they could check in with the patient.

The testing of this new technology is actually now underway in certain hospitals. Essentially it’s technology that has been in existence since the explosion of smart phones but it’s the first time it’s been used in this way. Whether you have depression or chronic back pain, if you begin feeling out of sorts you aren’t going to be interacting with people and chances are you won’t be straying far from home. You may be in need of help but don’t have the energy to reach out for it. This is where the new app could really help prevent things from getting even worse for people with medical problems. Those with diabetes could also benefit from the app since their spikes or declines in blood sugar may also keep them from moving around as much as normal.

Of course potential flaws in this system have been identified by various health professionals as mentioned in a NY Times blog on the topic. There is always the chance that the person has a cold or some other reason for withdrawing aside from serious illness and then the cost of both the time and money spent to reach out to the patient would be unnecessary  So would it help more than it would hurt? Many who back the use of the app would agree that it does have more positives than negatives.

People often are unaware of the fact that they are withdrawing and may even deny it. This type of technology would have a unbiased account of actual changes in habit.

What do you think? Is this type of technology a good idea?