By John Paul Mueller, Luca Massaron

A medical professional isn’t always able to tell what is happening with a patient’s health simply by listening to their heart, checking vitals, or performing a blood test. The body doesn’t always send out useful signals that let a medical professional learn anything at all. In addition, some body functions, such as blood sugar, change over time, so constant monitoring becomes necessary. Going to the doctor’s office every time you need one of these vitals checked would prove time consuming and possibly not all that useful. Older methods of determining some body characteristics required manual, external intervention on the part of the patient — an error-prone process in the best of times. For these reasons, and many more, an AI can help monitor a patient’s statistics in a manner that is efficient, less error prone, and more consistent, as described in the following sections.

Wearing helpful monitors

All sorts of monitors fall into the helpful category. In fact, many of these monitors have nothing to do with the medical profession, yet produce positive results for your health. Consider the Moov monitor, which monitors both heart rate and 3-D movement. The AI for this device tracks these statistics and provides advice on how to create a better workout. You actually get advice on, for example, how your feet are hitting the pavement during running and whether you need to lengthen your stride. The point of devices like these is to ensure that you get the sort of workout that will improve health without risking injury.

Mind you, if a watch-type monitoring device is too large, Motiv produces a ring that monitors about the same number of things that Moov does, but in a smaller package. This ring even tracks how you sleep to help you get a good night’s rest. Rings do tend to come with an assortment of pros and cons. This article tells you more about these issues. Interestingly enough, many of the pictures on the site don’t look anything like a fitness monitor, so you can have fashion and health all in one package.

Of course, if your only goal is to monitor your heart rate, you can get devices such as Apple Watch that also provide some level of analysis using an AI. All these devices interact with your smartphone, so you can possibly link the data to still other applications or send it to your doctor as needed.

Relying on critical wearable monitors

A problem with some human conditions is that they change constantly, so checking intermittently doesn’t really get the job done. Glucose, the statistic measured by diabetics, is one statistic that falls into this category. The more you monitor the rise and fall of glucose each day, the easier it becomes to change medications and lifestyle to keep diabetes under control. Devices such as the K’Watch provide such constant monitoring, along with an app that a person can use to obtain helpful information on managing their diabetes. Of course, people have used intermittent monitoring for years; this device simply provides that extra level of monitoring that can make the difference between having diabetes be a life-altering issue or a minor nuisance.

The act of constantly monitoring someone’s blood sugar or other chronic disease statistic might seem like overkill, but it has practical use as well. Products such as Sentrian let people use the remote data to predict that a patient will become ill before the event actually occurs. By making changes in patient medications and behavior before an event can occur, Sentrian reduces the number of unavoidable hospitalizations — making the patient’s life a lot better and reducing medical costs.

Some devices are truly critical, such as the Wearable Defibrillator Vest (WDV), which senses your heart condition continuously and provides a shock should your heart stop working properly. This short-term solution can help a doctor decide whether you need the implanted version of the same device. There are pros and cons to wearing one, but then again, it’s hard to place a value on having a shock available when needed to save a life. The biggest value of this device is the monitoring it provides. Some people don’t actually need an implantable device, so monitoring is essential to prevent unnecessary surgery.

Using movable monitors

The number and variety of AI-enabled health monitors on the market today is staggering. For example, you can actually buy an AI-enabled toothbrush that will monitor your brushing habits and provide you with advice on better brushing technique. When you think about it, creating a device like this presents a number of hurdles, not the least of which is keeping the monitoring circuitry happy inside the human mouth. Of course, some people may feel that the act of brushing their teeth really doesn’t have much to do with good health, but it does.

Creating movable monitors generally means making them both smaller and less intrusive. Simplicity is also a requirement for devices designed for use by people with little or no medical knowledge. One device in this category is a wearable electrocardiogram (ECG). Having an ECG in a doctor’s office means connecting wires from the patient to a semiportable device that performs the required monitoring. The QardioCore provides the ECG without using wires, and someone with limited medical knowledge can easily use it. As with many devices, this one relies on your smartphone to provide needed analysis and make connections to outside sources as needed.

Current medical devices work just fine, but they aren’t portable. The point of creating AI-enabled apps and specialized devices is to obtain much needed data when a doctor actually needs it, rather than having to wait for that data. Even if you don’t buy a toothbrush to monitor your technique or an ECG to monitor your heart, the fact that these devices are small, capable, and easy to use means that you may still benefit from them at some point.