Technology Audit: An Updated List of Devices for Living With IPF
The Pulmonary Fibrosis News Forums offer a one-of-a-kind platform to learn about this life-threatening lung disease firsthand. Patients, caregivers, and professionals alike come together to discuss a plethora of topics pertaining to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Many of those discussions focus on how to effectively manage the disease, and what tools, equipment, or items make that easier for patients.
This includes technological devices. Over the last several years, technology has transformed the way medicine is practiced. It continues to improve healthcare in numerous ways. Just as doctors are constantly learning how IPF develops and progresses, they continue to learn about new technology and how it can benefit patients.
In December 2019, I wrote a column about utilizing technology while living with IPF that listed various devices that can help patients safely and effectively manage their lung disease.
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about how rapidly technology changes, and he challenged me to think about new or updated devices that might be helpful to IPF patients. Since my diagnosis of IPF in 2016, I have been constantly seeking tips and tricks for making life with this cruel lung disease easier.
I decided to accept my friend’s challenge and do an information technology “audit,” which included examining the devices listed in my 2019 column and providing an update on their effectiveness, while also considering new technology that might help IPF patients. Following are some of my findings.
In addition to the many benefits of the Medical ID feature on iPhone, which I already knew about, I learned about another helpful feature. Using an iPhone, you can initiate an emergency call by holding or repeatedly pressing the side button. This means you can activate an emergency response without even speaking, which could be beneficial for IPF patients who are struggling with breathlessness or coughing.
Additionally, you can set up your Medical ID information, which includes blood type, allergies, and medications, among other things, to be sent to certain contacts in your phone if emergency services are notified. Many patients with IPF are on a plethora of medications, and having this list sent to my emergency contacts when I needed medical attention would be helpful. That way, my friends and family don’t have to memorize my medications.
Since my 2019 column, I have set up an Amazon Echo to help with medication reminders. Though it sometimes scares me, the device makes a sound at the same time every day, both morning and night, then reminds me verbally which medications to take. I have programmed it to do this using the app.
Other smart devices are compatible with it, too, such as light switches or locks. It could be particularly helpful for IPF patients to verbally turn off the light or lock the door, especially if walking too far has become difficult.
Digital vital monitors
Many IPF patients measure blood oxygen levels at home. A simple pulse oximeter can accomplish this, but sometimes it’s beneficial to check our heart rate as well, because many IPF patients also have pulmonary hypertension.
I recently invested in a digital vitals tracker that enables me to check my blood oxygen levels as well as my blood pressure and heart and respiratory rates. This comes in handy for monitoring the correlation between what my lungs and heart are doing.
While I mentioned the benefits of this device in my 2019 column, the Apple Watch released Series 6 last fall, which offers a feature I was particularly interested in. The Series 6 watch allows you to check your oxygen levels right on your wrist, and it tracks the data chronologically.
For example, I often notice my oxygen levels are lower at certain times of the day, and I can compare those levels to the activity I was doing at the time. This feature has helped me discover which activities can cause my oxygen levels to drop.
Since technology is always changing, it feels impossible to keep up with all the ways that medical devices can assist patients in living with IPF. However, I’d be curious to hear from you.
Has any technology helped you in your IPF journey? Let me know in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.