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Dear ComputingEdge reader:
Computing and Your Health: Computing is making its mark on healthcare. Technologies like electronic medical records, cloud computing, and smartphones have already transformed medical treatment and health data analytics. This issue of ComputingEdge describes innovative technologies that are helping improve health outcomes, whether through sophisticated virtual-reality systems or simple wearables.
What is digital health, dear colleagues? Is it data? Almost every consumer device seems to be gathering data on our health: the number of steps we take a day, the amount of coffee we drink, the number of calories we consumer, and the peaks and troughs of our heartbeat. If we read the advertising for these devices, we can be excused for thinking that digital health is merely the task of keeping these measurements within acceptable bounds, a personal version of quality control. It requires us to have more glasses of water than the minimum but fewer than the maximum. While there may be some value in this kind of discipline, it is far from all of digital health, as you will find from reading this month’s issue of ComputingEdge.
First, digital health includes patient therapy, as Dias and his coauthors show in their article “Using Virtual Reality to Increase Motivation in Poststroke Rehabilitation.” They note that virtual-reality applications can support the four basic principles of rehabilitation: “intensity, task-oriented training, biofeedback, and motivation.” Next, digital health technology can expand the capabilities of patients, as Rector shows in his article “Enhancing Accessibility and Engagement for Those with Disabilities.” Third, in common with its impact on other fields, digital health technology has improved the way we manage healthcare. In “How Will the Internet of Things Enable Augmented Personalized Health?,” Sheth, Jaimini, and Yip argue that we will need to “combine and integrate machine learning and data analytics with reasoning engines and knowledge bases,” with the result that we will get a much more personalized form of healthcare management.
Finally, if you are interested in data collection and the management of health quality, you should take a look at the article on health media by Boll, Meyer, and O’Connor called “Health Media: From Multimedia Signals to Personal Health Insights.” The authors ask you to broaden your understanding of health data and to place it within the concept of multimedia. “Multimedia now represents the means for communicating, cooperating, and monitoring numerous aspects of daily life at various levels of granularity,” they note. It has become “an integral part of the tools and systems” that are used to address health and healthcare.
So you still think that digital health is just about collecting data? Then you need to read this month’s ComputingEdge.
—David Alan Grier for ComputingEdge