OZY on Health Apps
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because we still can’t believe how much of our doctors’ offices are on our phones, wrists and in our pockets these days.
We’re making the pun: This app is visionary. Ophthalmologist Andrew Bastawrous is on a mission to prevent and treat blindness — with a smartphone. 285 million people suffer from blindness or poor eyesight. More shocking: Oftentimes, all they need is a pair of glasses or simple cataract surgery. The problem is that 90 percent of those affected live in developing countries that have only a handful of ophthalmologists, who tend to work in major cities and are impossible to reach from remote villages. For Bastawrous, reaching his goal of providing eye care to those who most need it has meant moving to a remote Kenyan village, with his wife and 1-year-old in tow, even though he barely speaks a word of Swahili.
After years of clunky devices and old-school techniques, we’re finally seeing some innovation in one of the most stagnant sub-components of health care: reproductive health technology. Now, whether it comes to planning or preventing pregnancy, there really might just be an app for that. Or a few of them. On the horizon is a number of deceptively simple apps that can track a woman’s entire menstrual cycle through a combination of self-reported data and some hardware innovations, drawing on standard ovulation testing tech, not unlike taking a pregnancy test. All together, this information can help women map everything from premenstrual stressors to peak fertility.
Yes, sometimes reliance on technology can make us better people. With the new year in full swing, thoughts turn toward that spare tire, and I’m here to tell you that technology may be able to guide us toward a fitter future. But a heart rate sensor — such as the Polar H7 or the Adidas miCoach Connect or Garmin Soft Strap — is a different beast because it monitors real-time cardio activity. The fabric chest strap uses electrodes to transmit heartbeat data to a smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth Smart or ANT+. An app uses this constant connection to measure and display effort in workout zones, letting you know in real time if you’re working hard enough in every athletic activity imaginable — from weight lifting to cardio to hiking to yoga.