Does anyone remember the blinking clock on the now obsolete VCR? There are many examples of how technology can be frustrating. But if we are being honest, innovation can be useful when used right. For instance, many larger law firms are considering how to use artificial intelligence, or they have already starting to implement it into the business. The intelligent, voice-controlled, personal assistants can presently do simple tasks like look up cases. But cutting-edge applications like drafting responses, providing legal advice, and suggesting litigation strategy are the real objective. Interesting stuff, but still a bit off into the future.
Of more immediate interest, there is another computer-based technology impacting personal injury law firms right now, the partnering of Google and Fitbit.
Seemingly unrelated to personal injury law, these two tech giants came to an agreement where Fitbit’s data will now interface with Google’s Cloud Health Database.
Why did Fitbit want to do this? In simple terms, Fitbit wants to become more integrated into the medical community. They wanted to establish their products as a valuable healthcare product, and move away from the perception of simply making cool gadgets. With this new Google agreement, the data collected by their devices is now dumped into the Google Health Cloud, and importantly, all this activity and sleep data becomes part of a user’s electronic medical record (“EMR”) in real time.
This provides doctors with useful data on things like a person’s activities, their vital signs, and sleep patterns. But doctors are not the only ones interested in all this collected activity and sleep data. Insurance companies have always struggled to scrutinize the victim’s pain and suffering claims.
It is expensive and hard to refute, involving things like surveillance with private investigators. But now they may have a way to analyze whether a patient’s activity levels or sleep patterns have changed, and to what extent. So, you might say the lesson is to watch what data you allow to be posted on the internet. Yes, for the record, it is always a good idea to control what data one allows to become public on the internet.
However, consider how difficult it can be for a victim to monetize and “prove” pain and suffering as part of a claim resulting from a car accident. Doctor’s opinions and medical records that document the physical injuries are often employed. But this is not a true account of the awful pain an accident victim suffers.
However, with the Fitbit data uploaded to a patient’s EMR, it becomes part of their real medical record and this data is a potential method to prove a pain and suffering claim. The Fitbit device documents a person’s activity and vitals on a daily basis, and if the activity levels dropped off after the accident, or the vitals are now different, this is proof that a victim is suffering pain.
Fitbit also monitors your sleep, so just as with the activity levels, if a person’s sleep patterns before and after the accident change, it provides a picture of how the accident affected the wellbeing of the victim. For someone defending a pain and suffering claim, as well as their personal injury lawyer, this can be a valuable tool. The expense for a certain test or medical treatment is easy to determine since there is an invoice to document the cost.
But how do you quantify pain or suffering? With the Fitbit data as part of the patient’s EMR, there is now a way to prove that the patient was indeed impacted, and to what degree. So, if someone is using a Fitbit device, they may be wearing a form of insurance similar to the dash cam found in many cars.
The Fitbit devices are recording activity, vital signs, and sleep, now sent directly to a person’s medical record, that can be referenced should the unthinkable happen and they get into a car accident. This data can be valuable to demonstrate how much someone’s life was impacted by an accident and the pain and suffering endured.
With the help of a lawyer, this knowledge can be used to determine fair compensation to cover the pain and suffering. And unlike the AI some law firms are experimenting with, this agreement between Fitbit and Google went into effect this year, so it is here now. Certain Fitbit devices are presently loading data into the Google Health Cloud and this data can be accessed as part of a user’s EMR, today. Maybe now you will view that Fitbit bracelet in a new light.
The Fitbit corporate goal was always to produce devices that improved people’s health. Without knowing it, though, they may have produced a tool where people can convincingly demonstrate the impacts of pain and suffering resulting from an accident.