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How a Dubai Startup Is Trying to Shake Up the Annual Physical


AiPods enable users to obtain a wide array of personal health data in less than 10 minutes.

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If a new Emirati technology company accomplishes its mission, the annual physical could soon be replaced by more regular visits to the shopping mall, drugstore or office lobby.

Dubai-based BodyO is rolling out a product called AiPod, a walk-in booth equipped with tools and sensors to measure a wide range of health metrics, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, fat and muscle mass and bone density.

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What sets the AiPod apart in the crowded health monitoring field is its size and ambition. The company believes the health pods can act as a sort of frontline defense, allowing patients to get a health status check in a manner of minutes. They may even use the data and analytics behind AiPod and its associated app to catch health problems as they are developing.

Patrice Coutard, a former fitness coach for the United Arab Emirates’ national soccer team, founded the company. Coutard believes the device can help catch conditions such as heart disease and diabetes earlier than they would otherwise be detected.

Initially, the company plans to lease out the health pods to places like malls and office buildings, where the public could readily access them.

“At the moment, the prototype is in Dubai Emirates Tower, in collaboration with [the] Dubai Health Authority,” Coutard, CEO of BodyO, told Healthcare Analytics News™.

Soon, however, the AiPod could become common in workplaces. Coutard said there have been “many” inquiries by companies looking to make the devices available to employees.

“We already signed with the government in Dubai, and we have requests from all over the world,” he said.

In the workplace, the device could act as a convenient tool for employees looking to track and improve their health. But it could also assist in employee wellness incentive programs, potentially helping to drive down healthcare costs for companies in countries like the United States, where the financial burden of insurance falls partly on employers.

One question raised by these devices: Who gets the data? Users can track their information using BodyO’s app, which also can provide training and nutrition plans for consumers. The data are stored in the cloud and secured using blockchain-enabled technology. Its readings and measurements can also be sent to a physician or clinic if a patient provides consent. In theory, the physician could then spot potential problems and bring in the patient for an in-person visit, if necessary.

Coutard said the company is also working to develop a rewards program that would help encourage patients to meet health milestones.

As for the AiPod, BodyO is currently developing a smaller second iteration of the device, which would be just 1 square meter in size. This could push the technology to become an in-home health monitoring device. BodyO is also working to equip the existing, larger version with additional sensors that would give the AiPod diagnostic capabilities and integrate teleconsultations with healthcare providers.

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