Wireless health moves into design phase

Data collection and analysis is just one piece of the puzzle, Brennan added. How you educate people in healthy lifestyles and gain compliance with doctor directives remains a question.

When I first started writing about wireless applications which live in the air, under the title The World of Always On, applications mainly lived in labs.

Now these applications are moving into the design phase, and undergoing initial beta tests.

The Digital Healthcare Conference in Madison, Wisconsin is one place taking reports on this evolution.

Madison was a logical place for the conference because Wisconsin professors like Patricia Brennan (right) are active in the design and delivery of systems. (Go Badgers.)

Among the key lessons she sought to deliver, as reported at WTN:

  1. Know the customer. That means you understand how they interact with technology, and how they access health care.
  2. Observations of Daily Living (ODL) needs to be unobtrusive. The collection of data on how people interact with this stuff must be transparent, delivered without user involvement.
  3. Mobile tools are key. Health diaries the size of a key fob, and food intake applications on a cell phone, work best.

Data collection and analysis is just one piece of the puzzle, Brennan added. How you educate people in healthy lifestyles and gain compliance with doctor directives remains a question.

The answer may lie in concepts like dignity, autonomy, well-being and community. It's one thing if your doctor or a machine tell you to do something. It may take the magic of friends to make wireless health applications truly valuable.