post by Bill Gardner
Here is a cool new eHealth technology: a bone cast with wireless telemetry of muscular activity. It is
threaded with electromyographic (EMG) sensors that track muscle activity around a fracture site. Created by Pedro Nakazato Andrade, a recent graduate of the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, the cast can relay data wirelessly to physicians and physical therapists. It shows how much mobility a patient has in an affected area and how physical therapy and daily activity are affecting the area, allowing clinicians to adjust treatment accordingly.
The key thing this device does is measure "how physical therapy and daily activity are affecting the area." It is not, itself, a device with therapeutic activity. More to the point, it does nothing if you are not doing your physical therapy -- which is most of us. eHealth will fundamentally change health care only in the context of interventions that successfully engage patients in self-care.
I've overstated the point somewhat. My motivation to adhere to my physical therapy regimin will likely increase if that I know (or at least believe) that that regimin will work. So if the smart cast makes therapy more effective, I'll be more likely to do it.
The problem is that eHealth technology is often presented as if it were a pill: you put it on and you get better. Rather, you put it on, and your self-care becomes more effective. And getting patients to effectively and consistently care for themselves is the hardest problem in chronic care.
Jimmy Connors was once asked, what are the most effective exercises to improve your tennis?Connors: "The ones that you will actually do."