Parents try, and often fail, to control cell phone use at dinner tables around the country. What parents might not realize is that those bright screens with ringing and beeping noises represent a way in which teenagers might be able to improve their own health. As telemedicine becomes a bigger part of the health care delivery system, researchers have been investigating the relationship between medical services and technology. Further, start-up companies and application developers are looking for ways to “incorporate medical care into our relationship with our [beloved cellular] devices.” For example, several studies have indicated that teenagers with chronic medical issues, such as those who undergo liver transplants or those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes, may better follow their treatment plans by receiving text message reminders.
Dr. Cindy Osman, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at New York University, believes cell phones improve health care for teenagers, who tend to document certain ailments on their phones before visiting a doctor’s office. Heath care providers are able to diagnose and recommend sound medical advice from either listening to an ill teenager speak on the phone or seeing a picture of an injury or ailment.
There are obvious risks, specifically misinformation and privacy concerns, with incorporating cell phone technology into health care, but Dr. Marcin, a pediatric critical care specialist at the University of California, Davis, acknowledges that adolescents are already living on these devices and utilizing them for self-diagnosis with varying degrees of success. Dr. Marcin believes that application developers and teenagers need to come together with the health care field to try to find a way that best utilizes cell phones for all parties involved.