Health Devices Are Shrinking, And That’s A Good Thing [Future Of Health]

Health Devices Are Shrinking, And That’s A Good Thing [Future Of Health]

PSFK Labs looks at how physicians and researchers are using small sensors for more continuous and responsive patient monitoring.

  • 12 march 2014

In the past few years wearable health technology has taken off in a big way. Whether it’s a fitness tracker that can tell you how many steps you have taken, when to eat or how stressed you are, these devices are getting smaller and highly sophisticated. These innovations aren’t just reserved for lifestyle-oriented technologies, as these same principles are being applied to sophisticated medical technology. Experts in the field are developing small and highly advanced sensors that are almost completely imperceptible, allowing them to be continuously worn by patients to gather and transmit detailed and valuable medical information to their physicians and caregivers.

This new class of devices are being embedded directly onto the skin or even ingested, to record and communicate a variety of biometrics that can be used to track general health and improve the speed and accuracy of diagnoses. In our latest Future of Health report, we look a these Embedded Vital Monitors are being integrated into multiple stages of the healthcare process.

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Inside a clinical setting, these sensors will provide physicians with a wealth of verified data about their patients, which can be especially valuable following a procedure. Not only can patients be granted a greater degree of freedom and mobility, no longer having to be connected to bulky monitors, but doctors can more frequently check in on how they’re responding to treatments and medications from virtually any location.

In our conversation with Amy McDonough, Director of Business Development at Fitbit, she described how this will impact the patient’s role in the healthcare system, saying “We’ll see dramatic shift over the next five years where sensors will become commonplace, allowing people to take charge of their own health. This will mark a shift where people will be asked to be more accountable for the monitoring of their own health and share the responsibility of outcomes.”

As brands and healthcare providers look to engage consumers around the Embedded Vital Monitors trend, the PSFK Labs’ team suggests considering the following questions:

  • What information would be useful to have regularly tracked in order to monitor patient care and
  • How can patient data collection be streamlined to alleviate support staff’s workload, while making the progress more regular?
  • What chronic conditions could benefit from regular monitoring, both for a patient’s general awareness and healthcare providers’ ability to ensure the best care?
  • How can these sensors be used to promote adherence, while also giving patients deeper insights into their own conditions?
  • How can embedded monitors be leveraged to provide early warning signs for certain conditions, reducing severity and demand associated with delayed identification?
  • What security and privacy protocols does the healthcare system need to put in place to ensure that sensitive patient data is being handled properly?
  • How can these sensors promote a model of healthcare that is more continuous and distributed?

With the help of our partner Boehringer Ingelheim, PSFK Labs has released the latest Future of Health Report, which highlights the four major themes and 13 emerging trends shaping the evolving global landscape of healthcare. To see more insights and thoughts on the Future of Health visit the PSFK page.

Contributed by Andrew Vaterlaus-Staby


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