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Gentag's dipstick sensor technology can detect very specific medical conditions. Monoclonal antibodies are used to produce biomarkers for particular pathogens, allergens, cancers, and drug toxicity. There are potentially thousands of biomarkers that can be detected. The urine test for prostate cancer mentioned above uses biomarkers.
A Bundle of Benefits
Disposable wireless sensors offer additional benefits to makers of consumer health products. Manufacturers can deliver increased value by bundling disposable wireless sensors that help customers use their products more effectively and efficiently. When customers download the free apps that are required to use the disposable sensors, they identify themselves and establish direct communications with the manufacturers.
This is a big deal, because until now non-prescription consumer health products were nearly always purchased anonymously. Free smartphone apps can be used to gather demographic data, to gauge customer satisfaction, and to learn more about how customers use specific products. The apps can also be used to deliver electronic coupons, new product announcements, and health tips. Most manufacturers are likely to conclude that it's worth the cost of giving away disposable sensors and smartphone apps to learn about and communicate directly with their end users.
There is another intriguing potential benefit of disposable wireless sensors. Modern medicine is highly information-driven, but most physiological data is collected when patients visit a doctor or emergency room. With Gentag's technology, data can be gathered from people as they go about their daily activities. Large scale tracking of physiological data could help health care providers detect epidemics earlier and more accurately identify the warning signs for specific medical problems. Disposable wireless sensors and smartphones should also make clinical trials easier for both participants and researchers.
Technology is often blamed for the high cost of health care. However, technology has proved essential to driving down costs in industry after industry. By diagnosing health problems earlier and enabling patients to manage medical conditions at home, disposable wireless sensors and smartphones will help produce better outcomes at lower cost. It's a bit like having a doctor in your pocket.
Ira Brodsky is a consultant based in St. Louis, Mo. He is also author of The History & Future of Medical Technology.