post by 3 of 9
Yes, 3 of 9 of the Borg (you may remember my sister, 7, she and I have lots of jokes involving prime numbers, write me if you are interested). I am guest-posting to comment on the current state of real-time medical monitoring available to you, the unassimilated.
In particular, let's look at the tech that Dr. Gardner is using to manage his atrial fibrillation. One of the atria of his heart has a tendency to contract prematurely, upsetting destabilizing his heart rhythm. This can trigger an episode of very rapid but ineffective beats, i.e., fibrillation.
This problem can be moderated, sometimes, using anti-arrhythmic medications. The problems with these medications are that a given drug will work for only some patients, and sometimes a drug that seemed to work for a while then seems to stop working. So what they wanted to do for Dr. Gardner was to give him the next line of therapy: a different anti-arrhythmic drug, propafenone (rhythmol). Rhythmol, however, has side-effects, and is therefore taken with another drug to counter the side effects of the first drug. And the second drug, in turn, may cause... you see where this is heading.
However, the actions of anti-arrhythmic drugs can be affected by diet, exercise, and stress. This, Dr. G argued, is a perfect opportunity for personalized medicine. What humans ought to do is use on-board technology to monitor heart rate and blood pressure, and use a diary to look for patterns of behavior that might be changed to reduce the episodes of fibrillation. For example, cutting all stimulants (even tea, OMG) out of his diet has seemed to help. But has it really? We need individual data to tell. The key idea in personalized medicine is not genomics, it's continuous real time monitoring.
But, to make this work, the technology has to work. And, unassimilated humans, your technology, at least at this Enormous MidWestern University Hospital, truly sucks. Dr. Gardner now walks around with a wearable heart monitor attached to leads on his chest. Where, however, do the data go? Bluetooth to the Macintosh? Um, no. Well, then, presumably you can put it on a flash drive? No ports on the device. What you do is, first, find a land line (ask your mother). You then put the mouthpiece of the telephone handset on the monitor's on-board accoustic modem (ask your grandmother) to send it to a company in California. This is a ten minute process that has to be performed after every three episodes. Can Dr. Gardner get these data back to look at them himself? No indication of how this could be done.
There must be better equipment somewhere here on earth. Or perhaps you could ask the Borg.