Taking Control of Personal Healthcare
iHealth Contents

Personal Medical Monitoring Devices

Disease-Monitoring Devices

Personal Health Record (PHR)Keeping

Related Sites
Medical Device Workshop: June 3, 2004

Medical Device Links


The increased availability of low-priced, small consumer electronics has created a surge in the supply and demand for all types of personal electronic devices. In recent years, this wave has extended to the personal medical market, creating opportunities for individuals to manage their health in ways previously not possible. This site explores some of these devices, namely those intended for personal medical monitoring, disease management, and personal health record-keeping. First, however, a brief explanation of these devices/records and a statement of this site’s scope are in order. 

Personal medical monitoring devices are becoming more and more visible and capable, as devices become smaller, cheaper, and more technologically advanced.  People go running with heart-rate and blood-pressure monitors, weight themselves on advanced scales, measure their temperature with digital thermometers, and walk around with pedometers.  As of this writing, few of these devices are truly integrated with a PC or an Internet experience, but this is gradually changing.  As these devices become truly ubiquitous, the possibilities for fully integrated healthcare become tangible.  A future in which every heartbeat is sensed, timed, logged, and analyzed by laypeople and healthcare professionals alike is not far off, and with it will come dramatic the health benefits and serious privacy challenges.

Disease-monitoring devices are used to monitor a patient's medical illness/condition over time.  Often these devices track test readings specific to the patient's disease, and allow the patient to manually add other relevant information, such as dietary changes, exercise, medications taken, etc. Although there are several devices for monitoring diseases, few are intended for home use, and even fewer have a chip or computerized/digital interface which allow for interaction with the user.  In actuality, the home digital market is dominated by diabetes-related and asthma-related devices.  Mention will be made of cancer and Alzheimer “devices”, but only briefly, as these currently do not meet the definition of home digital devices. 

Personal health record-keeping devices are computer/Internet-based record-management systems that individuals use to keep track of their personal health conditions. This differs greatly from previous record-keeping systems, which were entirely physician-entered and hospital-maintained. However, personal records can more readily reflect changes in the patient’s daily routine, subtle changes in chronic conditions, etc., and so are an important aspect of the emerging field of home health care.

The scope of this paper includes commercial websites (for an overview of what is currently available on the market), and academic and industrial research as available through the online libraries of the University of Maryland in College Park. Each section also includes the author’s suggestions for future directions for industry and research.

This site is a project of the graduate students of CMSC434 at the University of Maryland.  Visit the course website for an extensive list of Medical Device-related links.

Site last modified: 05/19/2004

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