Forget the stereotype of the gadget-loving couch potato. These innovations can help you stay trim, monitor your fitness and even save your life.
Technology closer to home
It's not just the developing world that benefits from 'telemedicine', however.
Even in the Western world, wireless and other technologies are being used to make life that little bit easier.
In May, the UK Department of Health unveiled a telecare trial. The programme, which is expected to cost £31m, is being rolled out across Kent, Cornwall and the London Borough of Newham. It will see 6,000 citizens with diabetes, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treated remotely using new technologies.
It's hoped that the scheme will see reductions in emergency admissions and dependence on care homes, with savings expected to more than offset the cost of initial investment in the technology.
"Improving care with new scientific advances is vital if the NHS is to continue to offer the very best services, but this innovation must be at the front line of the NHS to help people manage their conditions better themselves," said health secretary Alan Johnson.
Microsoft has taken telecare to the next level, developing HealthGear software that can be connected to Bluetooth-equipped smartphones. The technology allows the phone to act as computer and communicator, recording, analysing and displaying data such as blood sugar levels.
The software makes it easier and less expensive to keep an eye on those who require frequent attention. Patients who need a gentle reminder to exercise or check their blood sugar will get that nudge without a home or surgery visit. Meanwhile, patients in need of rapid attention can be summoned immediately, rather than relying on a letter sent by post.
The technology also makes better use of healthcare resources. Nurses who would normally make home visits will be able to monitor many patients from one location.
Whether it's offering advice to patients over the telephone, performing video visits via a webcam or holding virtual group meetings, telemedicine can save valuable time. This ensures a better use of resources – a huge benefit in today's overstretched and staff-poor NHS.
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