September 03, 2014

How a Smartphone Selfie Could Save Your Life

A doctor gives you a diagnosis that you have a sneaking suspicion is off the mark. You feel unsettled, and then a light bulb goes off – why not use your smartphone to film your symptoms as they’re happening in real time?

Sure, this gives a whole new meaning to taking matters into your own hands, but it’s exactly this type of creative thinking that might have saved the life of one Canadian woman.

By now, you might have heard of Stacey Yepes, who had originally been misdiagnosed with stress after she experienced numbness in her face and had difficulty speaking. When her symptoms recurred a few days later, Yepes had the wherewithal to film herself with her smartphone. This video gone-viral, led doctors at a different hospital to conclude that Yepes had been in the throes of a mini-stroke, and they were able to treat her accordingly.

smartphone

While it’s a unique example, Yepes’ highly publicized case highlights the fact that we are often our own strongest health care advocates. It also underscores the important role that consumer technology can play in ensuring we get the right diagnosis and right treatment from health care professionals. In fact, in many ways, a smartphone selfie diagnosis seems like a natural extension of telemedicine.

These days, people are taking control of their health with digital tools, including health apps that allow us to do things like measure our heart rate, monitor our respiratory status (useful for asthma sufferers) and upload information from devices such as blood glucose monitors – this information can then be shared with our health care providers. There are also blood pressure monitors that can be connected to the Internet or video equipment, allowing for real-time interaction with health care professionals.

Home health monitoring is especially helpful for people with chronic diseases. Thanks to advances in consumer technology, we have easier access to medical care and advice than ever before.

But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also exercise good judgment in how we use the plethora of technology available to us when it comes to managing our health. Social media comes to mind here – some people post pictures of physical ailments on Facebook, crowdsourcing a diagnosis from friends or even strangers. It’s not hard to imagine how such a misuse of technology and social media can end up having disastrous consequences.

Instead, we should take a page from Yepes’ experience, which perfectly illustrates how technology can enhance our ability to manage our own health. Her story is a reminder that the onus lies with us to be proactive, and if we suspect a diagnosis or treatment isn’t right, it might not be. The good news is that being proactive is becoming much easier with an ever-growing arsenal of tools available at our disposal, some of them even easily accessed from our back pocket.

A doctor gives you a diagnosis that you have a sneaking suspicion is off the mark. You feel unsettled, and then a light bulb goes off – why not use your smartphone to film your symptoms as they’re happening in real time?

Sure, this gives a whole new meaning to taking matters into your own hands, but it’s exactly this type of creative thinking that might have saved the life of one Canadian woman.

By now, you might have heard of Stacey Yepes, who had originally been misdiagnosed with stress after she experienced numbness in her face and had difficulty speaking. When her symptoms recurred a few days later, Yepes had the wherewithal to film herself with her smartphone. This video gone-viral, led doctors at a different hospital to conclude that Yepes had been in the throes of a mini-stroke, and they were able to treat her accordingly.

smartphone

While it’s a unique example, Yepes’ highly publicized case highlights the fact that we are often our own strongest health care advocates. It also underscores the important role that consumer technology can play in ensuring we get the right diagnosis and right treatment from health care professionals. In fact, in many ways, a smartphone selfie diagnosis seems like a natural extension of telemedicine.

These days, people are taking control of their health with digital tools, including health apps that allow us to do things like measure our heart rate, monitor our respiratory status (useful for asthma sufferers) and upload information from devices such as blood glucose monitors – this information can then be shared with our health care providers. There are also blood pressure monitors that can be connected to the Internet or video equipment, allowing for real-time interaction with health care professionals.

Home health monitoring is especially helpful for people with chronic diseases. Thanks to advances in consumer technology, we have easier access to medical care and advice than ever before.

But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also exercise good judgment in how we use the plethora of technology available to us when it comes to managing our health. Social media comes to mind here – some people post pictures of physical ailments on Facebook, crowdsourcing a diagnosis from friends or even strangers. It’s not hard to imagine how such a misuse of technology and social media can end up having disastrous consequences.

Instead, we should take a page from Yepes’ experience, which perfectly illustrates how technology can enhance our ability to manage our own health. Her story is a reminder that the onus lies with us to be proactive, and if we suspect a diagnosis or treatment isn’t right, it might not be. The good news is that being proactive is becoming much easier with an ever-growing arsenal of tools available at our disposal, some of them even easily accessed from our back pocket.