Medical Devices coming to an IPOD or PC near you soon?

While in the hospital for my quint bypass last July one of the noteworthy things was how reliant the hospital is on moment by moment accurate measures of your vital signs to keep you healthy. The actual sensors they use are cheap and in some cases even disposable (pulse-ox leads, litmus tabs for blood sugar meters, etc.) The bulk of the monitoring is done by software periodically recording from a very simple sensor set.

It’s inevitable that home sensors and programs will be widely available in this decade, and in another decade every “Home PC” and possibly even wireless device will come with a med suite of apps, that can measure your vitals and upload it to your doctor’s office. Remote appointments might become more common, with health coaches and nurses calling to ask you to “plug in” so they can get your vitals.

Maybe the pulse ox lead will plug into a USB port along with a a blood pressure cuff and thermometer, all are relatively cheap, simple and easy to manufacture. Think that’s a stretch? Here’s the first entrant and with lots of baby boomers retiring the numbers of people monitoring their own vitals will increase significantly. So who is going to make the first “Home Med” kit for the PC, XBox etc? Will Doctor offices soon be handing out USB port pulse-ox/BP cuffs and prescribing an application download?

Back in March 2009 at the iPhone OS 3.0 debut event, Apple’s Scott Forstall pointed out medical devices specifically as one of the more interesting class of peripherals that could leverage the new custom app interface capabilities. And while it’s certainly an interesting concept — keeping tabs on your general health from the comfort of your own home — we haven’t really seen it catch on (only a couple of products come to mind). That isn’t stopping iHealth; the company’s blood pressure dock, available today from its online store (we’re told it should be filtering through Apple’s own channels later this month) ties in with a specialized iPhone / iPod touch / iPad app to monitor and track blood pressure from the comfort of your home, where theoretically there shouldn’t be a stranger in a white coat making you extra nervous.

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