The Ford Motor Company and Henry Ford Health System are co-sponsoring a technology challenge, looking for innovative health apps, wearable sensors and in-vehicle systems designed to extend healthcare IT to the confines of a car.

The Connected Health App Challenge, which is open to the employees of both companies, kicks off on January 20 and is an effort to target the automobile as a platform for expanding the boundaries of patient monitoring. Given the amount of time drivers spend behind the wheel, the organizers of the challenge believe vehicles are the perfect place from which to manage people’s health.

The technology concepts that Ford and HFHS are soliciting must “utilize the automobile and wearable devices as components providing an effective health and well-being program for customers and patients of all ages and conditions,” according to the challenge announcement.

Among the questions that the two companies are seeking to address are: How can automotive connectivity be used to manage health conditions? Can vital signs improve the driving experience? How can connected health save lives on the road? And, how can chronic disease monitoring be extended?

Ward Detwiler, associate director of innovations at Henry Ford Health System, says apps and wearable sensors submitted as part of the challenge could potentially collect and transmit health data to physicians and hospitals.

“Sitting in the car for a couple of hours a day definitely has a huge negative impact on your overall health and wellness,” argues Detwiler. “We’re not going to change things overnight, but at least now we can look at that experience differently.”

Among the potential capabilities that could be explored, he believes, are: accessing personal electronic health records and vital stats of drivers for improving ER preparedness; delivering personalized, interactive, clinician-directed surveys to drivers for addressing non-emergency health concerns; and managing and scheduling clinical appointments while driving as well as better medication compliance.

 

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