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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Proactive Approach to Digital Healthcare
It’s not uncommon for the average driver to own a GPS system for their car. In fact, most new automobiles today come equipped with a navigation system already built-in. But imagine a GPS system for your health; one that knows your habits, your genomics and your goals, and can help you reach a target, whether that be to run a marathon, loose weight, manage a chronic illness or keep you informed on your risks for cancer. Up until now, the healthcare world has been one of “sick care”, in which we focus our time and energies on treating diseases once they have already appeared. This practice of medicine can better be referred to as a “reactive” state because the information that can be acquired from an individual is incomplete at best. People get sick, see a doctor, get a prescription, take a pill, or undergo a surgical procedure. The solution is too often a reaction to the problem versus an effort to predict or prevent the root of the issue. Furthermore, the ability to understand and make decisions from sporadic and disjointed health data has primarily been left to interpretation by doctors and leaves very little pressure on the patient to make sense of the results. When a doctor says, “Eat right and exercise,” what exactly does that mean? The advice itself isn’t wrong; however, the nature of the advice is generic and impersonal and not actionable or engaging. This advice also provides no content, clarification, or goals. Without a clear path forward, the patient is left without any direction at all. It is no wonder that many people feel frustrated with the current state of our healthcare system. Fortunately, this paradigm is about to change as we are beginning to shift from an era of erratic medicine to one that is based on information, feedback and analytics. Many uncertainties on specific and tailored information pertaining to one’s health can easily be answered with personalized health tools that exist today – tools that are inexpensive, easy to acquire, and uncomplicated to use. Uses of these digital devices have the ability to turn our current practice of health into a proactive state through continuous engagement and empowerment. Take for example a smartphone app that calculates oxygen consumption during aerobic activity, which provides a snapshot of a person’s cardiorespiratory fitness level. This happens to be the greatest predictor of death from cancer and heart disease known today. Devices such as the AliveCor Health Monitor and low-cost handheld ultrasound technologies put measurements into the hands of consumers. The Qualcomm Tricoder XPRIZE has incentivized and spurred teams from around the world to develop consumer devices for home-based monitoring, connecting mobile diagnostics, artificial intelligence and beyond. And then there is visceral fat – an often-ignored factor that predicts the onset of diabetes more effectively than any commonly measured variables. This can be measured using devices such as a Tanita scale, a device that uses Bioelectric Impedance Analysis to accurately read a person’s body composition within a minute’s time. We are currently in a era of wearable sensors used to track, measure, visualize, and help to optimize our bodies, health and wellbeing. When combined with digital monitoring tools that track daily food consumption and physical activity, this data can create useful benchmarks for health and generate ongoing feedback to keep patients moving towards their desired health goals. So why aren’t patients and doctors taking better advantage of the current technologies widely available? On the consumer side, the real difficulty seems to be the absence of aggregation. All of this incredibly useful health data is not being assembled in a manner that truly drives behavioral change. Instead, consumers are using individual applications in silos and as a result, variables that might impact blood pressure, for example, will not be identified because other parameters, such as daily steps, are not intelligently conveyed by common apps. On the clinical side, there simply hasn’t been an easy-to-use software platform available to review all of a patient’s biometric and health information in one, and then interpret the data easily so that it’s possible to monitor progress against a plan of action. Instead, today’s primary-care physicians continue to operate within the confines of a healthcare system that was designed to take care of sick people. Digital healthcare appears to be the answer and as we move into the era of proactive health, these technologies can help you to be more accountable for your wellbeing. The overarching goal should be to get people excited and engaged in their health. We will become more empowered and responsible for our own health with useful insights into our everyday wellness, disease prevention and disease management. As more patients, doctors, and healthcare systems embrace genetic and mobile health advancements, we can be confident that our future in the digital heath era is optimistic. To learn more about NFS Leasing, please visit For inquiries, please call them at 866-970-4637 or send them an email at

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