We wrote earlier that the popularization of wearable gadgets will sooner or later lead to a powerful technological revolution in the healthcare sector. Until this happens, it seems we can only be patient. Those who are already taking the initiative into their own hands do not agree with this position. Technicians become real hackers: they hack gadgets, re-program them, and assemble their own medical devices.
The Guardian talks about how you can become a health hacker. The example of Tim Omer, a 31-year-old with diabetes, is truly eloquent. The Briton decided not to wait for the digital revolution to defeat bureaucracy and retrogrades from the world of medicine. On his shoulder is a small object – a box the size of a pack of cigarettes, which in fact turns out to be a modern sensor that monitors blood glucose levels. To get such a sensor in England, you need to wait about a year, pay 4 pounds and constantly go through expensive technical inspections of the device.
Tim’s story would be sad if not for the bright mind of the guy. He got tired of waiting for help from the state and decided to take the initiative into his own hands. Since Omer is well versed in technology, he bought an old blood glucose meter, a box of Tic Tac chocolates and set to work. Tim was able to reassemble and reprogram for himself a device that sensitively monitors glucose levels, transmitting information to a smart watch and phone. The total cost of the “hacker” device was about 1 pounds. The technical characteristics of a homemade medical sensor are not inferior to what the official manufacturer has to offer.
When we talk about a revolution in medicine, we mean massive changes at the root of the entire system, new effective vaccines and modern ways of tracking health conditions. But in fact, it turns out that patients really need a step forward, but more understandable, local in scale. While breakthroughs in a particular area of health care remain rare, patients need simple and effective steps to improve their condition here and now. The impressive achievements of the future are, of course, good. But it seems that many are tired of waiting for the bright moment to come.
Therefore, patients are increasingly doing like Tim. The health hacker movement arose in response to the slow pace of reform and the development of medicine as such. In addition, the commercialization of the industry is becoming more evident, and doctors are more likely to recommend devices based on contracts with the manufacturer, rather than their own point of view.
Volunteer hackers have become especially active in the United States, where they make sensors and sensors with their own hands, create prostheses on a 3D printer, and by any means try to design devices that make life easier for patients. Of course, this causes certain problems. What is created by a group of enthusiasts does not always work right. So, of course, in places the health hacker movement resembles artisanal hobbyists. The situation is gradually improving thanks to the support from NHS Hack Days, where IT experts and people with health problems gather in order to develop modern technological solutions to existing issues.
But, obviously, progress must go a step further. There is not enough talent and desire for the full implementation of the health care reform. These are only the first – and most important – steps towards the medical revolution.