When it comes to health care, advances in technology can help you get healthy, and even save lives. Case in point: Not Impossible Labs, a California-based company that uses innovative 3-D printing to make things like prosthetic limbs for young bombing victims in war-torn Sudan.
Or genetic testing, which actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie used to find out if she had a faulty copy of the BRCA1 gene that increases risk of ovarian and breast cancer. (She does, so she had preventive surgeries.)
Technology also helps with simpler, more common tasks that don’t require a medical degree, like tracking workouts, monitoring calories and stopping health issues before they start.
Wristbands and other wearable, wireless-enabled technology is used to track the frequency, duration and intensity of the wearer’s movement to determine things like distance traveled, heart rate and calories burned.
Most devices also allow you to log your caloric intake, which is helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. They also register sleep patterns, which can alert you to dangerous disorders like sleep apnea.
Popular brand Fitbit offers nearly a dozen different models, including Blaze, which features a color touch screen that displays onscreen workouts. Misfit trackers include modules that can also be worn as a pendant, and most trackers in general feature a six-month battery life. The Apple Watch is another popular wearable; Series 2, with enhanced features, was released in September 2016.
Virtual house calls
Thanks to technology, doctor-patient communication doesn’t always have to be one-on-one; some physicians now allow texts or emails, and online video chats are being used more often for diagnosing nonemergency conditions. LiveHealth Online is available in 48 states; an online visit is just $49, and some health plans cover the cost after copay or coinsurance.
During her career in marketing and e-commerce, Jennifer Michelsen became well acquainted with the many benefits technologically advanced consumer products offer, including improved health and quality of life. And then she observed a market need right in her own home.
“My husband was experiencing vision problems from staring at a computer screen all day, so I knew there was a need,” she says. “And then when I realized that my young son was adopting a digitally focused lifestyle, too, I really became motivated.” Michelsen’s brainstorming led to her cofound Gunnar Optiks in 2006. The company’s prescription and nonprescription eyewear features optical technology that protects eyes from conditions associated with digital eye strain, including blurred vision, headaches, glare and eye fatigue.