By Katlyn Morrison

Modern medical research has firmly established that being overweight or obese can lower life expectancy. What may be less obvious is that excess weight can have a Catch-22 effect on any potential treatment when EMS and hospital services are poorly equipped to respond. This effect is becoming more pronounced, as one study found 28% of EMS workers had been injured from mobilizing overweight patients, and were increasingly unable to respond. This, in turn, denies medical care to those most in need. Smart technology is providing the means for those patients most in need to access the care they require.

Providing an external link

Excessive weight or obesity brings with it a myriad of health problems. High blood pressure, undiagnosed diabetes and cardiovascular problems are often present but caught too late, according to one medical researcher reported in U.S. News & World Report. Smart technology is tackling this key challenge of the obesity epidemic by providing remotely monitored, live updates on a patient’s vital signs and other indicators. This, in turn, allows surgical teams and other doctors the ability to closely monitor and hone in on the best times to act. As a result, medical teams and patients will be able to make plans far beyond the actual date of a procedure, creating a far better prospect of a successful surgery and, in turn, a better patient outcome.

Improving accessibility to the OR

As the survey of EMS workers found, one of the biggest challenges is the physical action of providing transport from the home to the OR. Workers are unwilling, or unable, to complete the task, and this is creating a paucity of accessible care. Smart technology is helping this, but on a larger scale than simple software or wearable devices. Firstly, technology is providing new vehicles that have the equipment and capacity to provide that accessibility; such vehicles have been rolled out across the U.S., according to regional news outlets like the Altamont Enterprise and Cincinnati.com.

Secondly, driverless cars are likely to become a regular occurrence within a few years, according to Wharton Knowledge, and this technology offers a unique opportunity for overweight and obese patients, and particularly those who require the use of a wheelchair. Sophisticated technology will allow these patients to access health care with total independence, improving their quality of life and ensuring the provision of surgical procedure. While tests are ongoing to guarantee the safety of such vehicles, it’s reasonable that the use of driverless vehicles for non-emergency ambulatory tasks will become routine.

Enhancing post-op success

When a patient has had the opportunity to access surgical procedures, such as bariatric surgery, mobile smart tech has provided a proven way to keep results coming in and maintain the momentum provided by surgery. This, in turn, will improve accessibility to health care and, therefore, greatly improve long-term prospects for the patient. Research conducted by KP Washington found that mobile health trackers provide great promise to patients coming off bariatric surgery due to the psychological factor of the device. The support and encouragement that meeting goals provides has a proven positive feedback link that improves long-term health.

Obesity has reached epidemic levels globally. Unfortunately, this creates a negative loop, where obese patients are stuck in the home and are left unable to access the health care they so desperately need to create a recovery. Smart technology is, and will continue to, provide novel ways to tackle the challenge and provide health care equally.