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The Future of Helath Insurance: Mobile Medical Sensors and Dynamic Pricing

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Churchill

After a lovely dinner you order a third glass of wine, take a sip and your mobile phone rings.

Its your health insurance company’s computer. You take the call.

“We’re delighted to see you are enjoying yourself this evening!” the cheerful voice synthesis exclaims.

“Please note, however, that you are now at the policy limit for blood alcohol level. To purchase a 24 hour waiver that will allow you to exceed this limit, press 1. A fee of $20 will be charged to your monthly co-payment invoice. To decline waiver coverage, press 2. Please note that if you decline coverage your blood alcohol level must drop under the policy limit within 45 minutes. Continued elevated blood alcohol above your policy limit will constitute breach of your coverage agreement and you may loose all coverage for alcohol related illnesses including injuries received from accidents that may be caused by impairment.”

With a paid-for glass of wine on the table, many people may just go along with the offer (their judgment may already be somewhat impaired).

Real-time health monitoring is an application that is rapidly developing.  Our mobile devices are likely to play a central role in enabling a wide scale real-time continuous monitoring of health related data.  The Quantified Self meet-up is exploring many aspects of this space, but discussion of ways large institutions could use this data has not been a large focus so far.

Medical compliance is a huge issue: most of us do not take prescribed medicines the way we are “supposed to” – skipping doses, doubling up, or quitting a series of medications once symptoms subside.  A real-time assessment of our blood (among other measures) would go a long way to reducing the costs of illness and treatment.  In a world of scarce medical resources, can competitive societies allow their members to be slothful and subsequentially expensive to maintain?

The Intel Health Guide is a good example of this emerging trend, although still in a “desktop” form factor.

Intel Health Guide Device

Other examples can be found in the iPhones app store where health and navigation and travel categories of applications are starting to collide.

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