FORBES: New Smart Phone Food Apps Are Not One Size Fits All--Will Insurance Cover Them?

by Marc Siegel, Forbes Contributor - 3 September 2015

One night this spring my 10 year old son began to vomit for no apparent reason. He turned pale, began to sweat, and broke out in an ultra-fine rash all over his body. It took a few minutes for me to realize that this was a childhood version of the killer shark of allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis. I zoomed him to the emergency room across the street where I worked, and watched as the doctors there jammed an EpiPen into his thigh, a traumatic experience for both parent and child. Luckily, he soon began to recover.

This was the standard of care and would have worked for anyone suffering from anaphylaxis. But this one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t begin to address the question of why some people are more prone to severe allergies than others, and once those at risk have been identified, what can be done to protect them.

ER doctor and parent/doctor puzzled over what the cause might have been. We knew he was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, but a quick review of his recent diet drew blanks. Finally, a meticulous Sherlock Holmesian analysis drew attention to a fruit spread that he had lathered onto a bagel. The fine print on the product jar revealed that the product contained a trace amount of walnut.

I felt awful that I had overlooked this crucial warning. But the fact is, I just didn’t know that my son was in a high risk group for anaphylaxis. Now that I do know, what can be done to protect him?

Enter new technologies like ContentChecked, a smartphone application for understanding the fine print of ingredient labeling and knowing whether specific foods contain chemicals or additives that can put your health at risk. The first ContentChecked app is dedicated to allergy sufferers like my son.

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The allergy app analyzes food products for contents that provoke gastrointestinal intolerance as well as rashes and other allergic responses. There is a dedicated team of nutritional experts involved with analyzing and integrating current research and diet alternative straight into the app.

But will health insurance cover this kind of smart app when it is crucial for severe allergy sufferers but not for everyone? That is the billion dollar question.

There are also other new smart phone apps for diabetics and migraine sufferers. The apps give consumers the ability to scan the bar codes of packaged food products and determine which allergens or sugars or migraine triggers are contained within.

Technology that zeroes in on individual health concerns such as these are part of a new concept in health care known as precision medicine. The old insurance model which focuses on a disease once it occurs (such as anaphylaxis), is becoming more and more out of date. In contrast, precision medicine can be proactive, identifying and preventing a health problem in advance. Smart phone warning systems are a crucial part of this approach since almost everyone has a phone.

 

Read full article here.

ContentChecked

ContentChecked, West Hollywood, CA, United States