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A doctor in your dashboard?

By Claes Bell · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Posted: 7 am ET

I guess buying a car with a built-in doctor is one way to control health care costs.

Eric Taub of the New York Times writes Ford is working on a health care add-on for its Sync in-car electronics system:

Working with WellDoc, a startup developer of software-based health management tools, Ford has created a prototype system that could monitor health issues like congestive heart failure and asthma, then display and transmit alerts if the driver is in danger.

To obtain the required information, the system uses Ford's various Sync in-car connectivity technologies, including its ability to transmit information via Bluetooth and download data from cloud services.

If the car were to receive a warning that it had entered an area with a high pollen count and the driver was highly allergic, for example, it could automatically raise its windows and start air recirculation. For diabetics, Sync could be harnessed to access the driver's personalized WellDoc database, where glucose levels would be recorded.

Practically speaking, I think this is a brilliant move by Ford. A system like this could have huge appeal to a wave of aging baby boomers starting to deal with the health problems that inevitably come with old age. Especially in top-end Lincoln models, this could really be a perk that sets their cars apart.

Where I could see it hurting them is that while many automakers covet older car buyers, no brand wants to be seen as the car company for older buyers, especially with that most youth-worshiping and financially powerful baby boomer generation. That label is notoriously hard to shake; no matter how many times Oldsmobile told us its new model was "not your father's Oldsmobile," the company still eventually succumbed to GM cutbacks, in part because boomers stayed away in droves.

What do you think? Will a "dashboard doctor" make Ford a mint, or hurt its brand?

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2 Comments
Homeless
May 26, 2011 at 9:04 am

Want to lower healthcare costs...how about stop making me go to the doctor when I have a cold so he can prescribe over the counter medicine so that I can use my FSA account to pay for it...this any many other STUPID consequences of Obamacare!