The healthcare industry is continuously sprouting with the exponential evolution of technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and robotics, etc. These new areas of smart technology are expected to pose unswerving influence on the healthcare industry during the next couple of years.
Smart Health Technology is equipped to automatically obtain, store and compute health information from technically advanced sensors and offer personalized advice or automated actions from the collected data. This technology can interact and engage with data via Virtual or Augmented Reality to provide even more real-time experience for both, physicians and patients.
With the dissatisfaction among junior doctors reaching unprecedented levels (a staggering 80% feel excessively stressed) and the number of doctors progressing to specialty training dwindling to its lowest rate in the history of the National Health Service (NHS); these changes have never been more needed. In the event of NHS staff struggling to cope up with the growing demand for patient care, owing to the UK’s rising aging population, technology is seen as an enabler which will further propel healthcare professionals to work smarter, and not harder.
There are numerous opportunities for healthcare stakeholders/ manufacturers to innovate Smart Health Technology solutions, which are expected to streamline the precise medical care approach, e.g., telemedicine. However, there are also certain restraints in the regular healthcare system pertaining to infrastructure and adequate competencies to integrate Smart Health Technologies. Moreover, manufacturers and service providers need to ensure data security and adhere to global standards. Few of the latest applications of Smart Health Technology are Smart Apps, Smart Pills, Smart Syringes, Intelligent Fabrics, and Smart Wearable Devices.
The global smartphone users’ count is expected to surpass 2.5 billion by 2019. This exponential base of users is expected to influence the fate of health and fitness apps, which have already increased by more than 30% since 2016 (as on current date). It is estimated that almost 75% of current active mobile users run their health and fitness apps at least twice a week. With increased awareness among the mass population, people are leveraging technology to take better control of their health conditions such as asthma, infertility, obesity, and diabetes, etc. Moreover, the plethora of user data churned out from these apps are helping the market researchers access unparalleled volume of data for further in-depth and precise insights.
The smart pill technology includes a wireless capsule, a receiver, and the software, which investigates and categorizes the gathered information from the patient who consumes the pill. It is an emerging technology, which is witnessing an upsurge in demand and is expected to show significant potential in the diagnostics domain in the future. The technology is used to detect gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and offers the physicians with information relating to several parameters such as pH, temperature and GI tract pressure.
For instance, the first digital pill -Abilify MyCite (approved in November 2017 by the US Food and Drug Administration) is used to track patients’ medication data. This is a venture between Tokyo-based Otsuka and California-based Proteus Digital Health (digital medicine service provider). The other key players operating in the smart pill technologies market include Novartis AG, Given Imaging Ltd., Philips Healthcare, Smartpill Inc., Olympus Medical Technology, Medtronic, Pentax Medical Co., Siemens Healthineers, Stryker Corp., GE Healthcare, and Boston Scientific Corp.
Smart wearable medical devices are small electronic products (consisting of sensors) which have computational competence. These devices are entrenched into items, which are attached to different body parts of the user. They can resemble watches, eyeglasses, clothing, contact lenses, shoes, or even jewelry.
Few of the latest smart health monitoring wearables in the global market include:
- Apple Watch Series 4 (healthcare app)
- Pebble Health (health monitoring app)
- Zephyr BioPatch (wireless monitoring device)
- Muse headband (brain-sensing monitoring headband)
- AliveCor Heart Monitor (smartphone-based ECG device)
- Garmin Forerunner 935 (GPS-enabled heart rate monitoring device)
Precisely, the Apple Watch Series 4 is embedded with an ability to automatically inform hospital service providers if a user becomes immobile for a stipulated period of time. This device assists people to become healthier, simultaneously storing real-time data which can be analyzed by healthcare professionals via remote patient monitoring, ensuring more precise and perceptive data for better healthcare practices. Moreover, AI can continuously monitor healthcare data and transfer the same to hospitals when necessary.
Upcoming healthcare technologies such as Smart Healthcare and AI are gradually renovating healthcare practices and are set to experience further innovations in the recent future. A significant number of healthcare experts are unquestionably banking on smart healthcare as a growing number of patients are keen to use these technologies and apps to improve their lifestyles. However, it is impossible to contemplate every research aspect of smart healthcare, considering its broad facets. Hence, as a result of the emergence of Smart Technology, healthcare stakeholders now should focus on imperative subjects such as security and privacy, ethics, training, biomarkers, genetics and personalized medicines, robotic-enhanced environments, human-computer interaction, and so on. The future is endless and exponential!
About the author
Victor Mukherjee is currently working as an Assistant Manager – Healthcare Practice, Infoholic Research