My father was my first doctor of chiropractic. He adjusted me in much the same way my grandfather adjusted him. Growing up that way, I have pretty much expected every chiropractic visit to be similar to those formative experiences.Sure, there are some differences in technique and some chiropractors focus more on sports injuries, nutrition, etc., than others. But to me, chiropractic will always be the same.
Well, maybe not exactly the same. It's hard not to notice that these days, seemingly everything in our lives seems to be constantly changing. Technology is the most obvious example of this perpetual state of flux. Gone are the rotary phones, VHS movies and many other "advances" considered so innovative at the time. (When my teenage daughter and I watch classic movies, I invariably have to explain things that were part of my childhood, but that she has never seen in hers.)
A recent article titled "15 Game-Changing Wireless Devices to Improve Patient Care" recently caught my attention. Actually, it isn't really an article in the conventional sense, but an online slideshow presentation. Among the interesting wireless gadgets discussed are three bits of cutting-edge technology you just might discover becoming a useful part of your practice in the next few years:
The current technology is designed for drugs, but it shouldn't be too long before it is applied to nutritional supplements. The idea is that a small sensor is placed on the pill. This sensor is "activated by stomach juices when it's ingested." The sensor currently monitors information relating to the effects of the drug. But with a little work, that could be extended to monitor the sufficiency of vital nutrients in the body. "The data are wirelessly transmitted to a smartphone app, which in turn relays it to a monitoring provider, caregiver, or family member."
Star Trek fans will remember the "tricorder" Dr. McCoy used to scan the crew of the starship Enterprise. This device apparently told the good doctor all he needed to know about the health of each crew member. A Chinese company recently released its own version, which so far is able to "monitor heart rhythm, blood oxygenation, sleep patterns, temperature, blood pressure, footsteps, and more – without wires – and display the data on an accompanying smartphone app." Taken just a little further, this device could presumably assess joint movement and subluxations, transmit the information to your patient's smartphone and relay it to your office to make an appointment.
Orthotics are natural sensory devices. A recent version from a German company "wirelessly transmits data on a patient's plantar distribution of pressure to a smartphone app." The device can sense and record gait, "weight-bearing, balance, temperature, and acceleration." It would be very reasonable that the device could sense when a person's spine / extremities are subluxated based upon the above and notify you via the person's smartphone. Your office would then activate a regimen of pain-relieving acupressure through the orthotic to help stabilize the patient until they reach your office for their appointment.
Technology is poised to make dramatic changes in the health care industry in the next few years. As doctors of chiropractic, we should anticipate and attempt to facilitate the advantages offered by advancing innovations, particularly as they relate to receiving important patient data.
Being able to monitor your patients' health and help determine the best course of action has the potential to reduce overall health care costs and increase the appreciation of timely chiropractic care. Monitoring systems like those above can help address acute conditions sooner and prevent them from becoming chronic.
To stay up with these new technologies, we will need the vendors that support our profession to invest in chiropractic-oriented breakthroughs. These will ultimately make our practices more patient-centered and efficient.
The chiropractic profession has naturally led other health care professions in a number of areas, particularly those that relate to better patient care. These new technologies are part of that tradition.
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