Combining Big Data analytics and mobile phones, a Chinese startup is aiming to ensure early prevention of the development of chronic disease in people at risk by offering them personalised solutions.
Driven by embedded technologies and the Quantified Self movement, the creation of smart mobile objects for the health field is on the increase. US companies Jawbone and iHealth, and Paris-based Withings have all developed devices to help patients cope in their daily lives. But how many people are there who, although apparently in good health, are nevertheless at high risk of developing chronic illnesses? A disturbing thought. According to a recent World Health Organisation report, by the end of the decade developing countries will see the greatest rise in deaths linked to chronic disease. In order to respond to this situation, Chinese startup iChronoCloud has come up with a system which allies Big Data with a smart bracelet in order to help detect the first signs of anomalies in people at risk from chronic disease through ongoing analysis of their medical data.
Ad hoc doctor’s visits may not reveal much
The bracelet works as a versatile medical device, measuring blood pressure and heart rate by means of an analysis of arterial pulse velocity, plus blood sugar levels. When a person first uses the system, s/he is asked to provide basic personal information – gender, age, etc. The bracelet subsequently collects data every half hour and transmits it to the Cloud, over long periods of time. “Results from a one-off medical appointment are hardly conclusive as to a patient’s health, given that they depend on the ambient environment and even on the psychological state of the person at a given moment,” points out iChronoCloud co-founder Wu Bing. Observation over the long term, in several stages and at a number of levels, has proved to be far more effective in identifying changes in bio-rhythms and thus in detecting the early signs of a chronic medical condition.
Prevention is better than cure
There are two distinct stages in the development of chronic illness: the first functional/symptomatic effects; and then the pathology of the organs. “Often when a person goes to the doctor, s/he has already reached the second stage and will need to start taking medicine right away,” explains Wu Bing. The aim of iChronoCloud is therefore to sound the alarm bell when the very first debilitating symptoms appear. The data gathered from users on a daily basis will be analysed so as to enable personalised recommendations to be made – on the best time to take exercise, take medication, go to bed, and so on – via a mobile app. “We truly believe that efficient prevention of chronic illness can reduce medical costs for people at risk, and for their children too,” underlines Wu Bing.