High-Tech Healthcare Is In Your Future

A program from Northeastern is working on developing healthcare technology.

High-tech healthcare

Healthcare is going high-tech. Photo via Shutterstock

Personalized healthcare? There’s an app for that.

Five faculty members at Northeastern University are harnessing the increasingly high-tech aspects of medical care (see our story on virtual pre-natal care as exhibit A) and working to develop what a Boston Globe article calls “health informatics: devices and apps to improve health.” The projects that make up the Northeastern Personal Health Informatics program are varied, but one thing remains constant: A dedication to making healthcare more individualized and easier to access. The Globe article quotes one of the faculty members, Stephen Intille:

“The goal is really to be observing what happens from a patient’s point of view,” said Stephen Intille, one of the program’s founding faculty members. “Where can we insert technology to make their experience better?”

Projects encompassed by the program include sensors worn by non-communicative autistic children to measure when and why they have episodes; a social media-based fitness tips forum for Roxbury residents; developing a device that would allow patients to track their pain and have medical questions answered when in the hospital; and technology that tracks when someone with a neurological disorder loses tongue control.

As the diversity of projects suggests, one of the program’s hallmarks is its interdisciplinary roots. Those involved with developing the technologies come from backgrounds like speech pathology, computer science, game design, and behavioral science along with traditional health fields. Dartmouth College’s Lisa Marsch says these differences are vital to the program’s success:

“All of these perspectives working collectively in this space — that’s how we’re going to have potential to have a substantive impact on public health,” said Lisa A. Marsch, director of the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health at Dartmouth College, who is not involved with the Northeastern program.

Though time will tell if these ideas will make substantial changes, the program seems to be utilizing two of the most important aspects of today’s healthcare arena: finding ways to incorporate technology, and individualizing the care patients receive. And that’s something to get excited about.