Health + Tech | Tracking male fertility remotely
The matter of male fertility is generally taboo in the Jamaican context because we men take our sexual prowess quite seriously.
Yet we have considerably more 'jackets' than many other nations. But this is by no means just a Jamaican issue. According to scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, sperm counts among men in the West have more than halved in the past 40 years and are currently falling by an average of 1.4 per cent a year.
While no similar research that I know of has been conducted on Jamaican men, our very environment and lifestyle practices may affect the ability to conceive.
This may explain why some Jamaican men have multiple children but others have multiple jackets. When you look at some of the markers for determining whether someone is at risk of having a low sperm count, it may answer many of these questions.
Some of the factors raised that may affect the man include marijuana use and general smoking habits, drinking habits, frequency of exercise, exposure to heat, level of stress, use of an electronic device such as a laptop on your lap, exposure to bisphenol-A (found in some plastics), engine exhaust, metal particulates from fumes, soldering (a kind of welding), agricultural pesticides, typical duration of sleep, consumption of sweets and processed food, and general balance of diet.
You can already see from this list that many Jamaican men would be exposed to one or more of these factors during their lifetime.
In March, while I was at this year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, I came across an app and an entire fertility system called Trak.
Trak allows a man to do a test to determine the likelihood of having fertility issues or a low sperm count. I think this would be useful technology in our context.
Once a man visits his doctor and outlines his concerns and does an analysis, he can then use the app to consistently track fertility and sperm count and also be privy to all the issues that may be affecting him.
After this, he can see his progress through the app and, therefore, understand what other steps he needs to take to reach his goal.
This can be an essential aspect of remote-care management. Once the app is integrated into our electronic health information management system and the patient's electronic medical records, the doctor has the opportunity to use the overall patient profile and history to properly determine the specific direction the remedial actions need to take.
This would allow a comprehensive examination of all factors affecting a patient's health, including current and past medication and illnesses. The doctor can also better understand the requirements of each patient.
Our men need not worry too much, though, as time is in your favour - the oldest father on record was 96 years old!
The tracking of fertility, though, also gives the man a sense of privacy as he can handle his business without having to bring multiple persons into the equation, just him, his app, and his urologist.
The University Hospital of the West Indies will be the first in the Caribbean to be fully digitised as it is in the final stages of implementing the hospital information management system.
The facility is, therefore, in a position to take full advantage of these new and emerging technologies, which can have a positive impact on health and lifestyle as well as provide comprehensive care to patients.
- Doug Halsall is chairman and CEO of Advanced Integrated Systems. Feedback: Doug.firstname.lastname@example.org.