By Snookie Lioncourt
With continuous advancements in technology, more and more innovative solutions have been invented to facilitate global healthcare delivery services. These include a number of medical and healthcare mobile applications, remote Caregiving tools, assistive wearable devices for elderly and disabled patients, live mobile pulse monitoring systems, and emergency response GPS trackers. So, what do all of these innovations portend for 2014 and onwards? In 5 mHealth Tech Trends to Shape Industry, we’ll take a closer look at five significant technological trends this year that will vehemently shape the future of the mobile health (mHealth) industry.
1. The Rise Of Smart Sensors Will Help Elderly Patient Care
Smart sensors that can track activities, routines, and locations of elderly people at home and in assisted living facilities will become mainstream, as the “aging-in-place” sector of the healthcare industry grows. This will prompt manufacturers to come up with affordable products and mobility solutions with smart sensors that can be leveraged in emergency response systems. For instance, a wearable device with real-time motion, temperature, and pulse tracker that tells if a patient registers signs of cardiac arrest or stroke. As for the caregivers, this trend means lightening their loads and round-the-clock supervisions.
2. Wireless Technology Will Aid ‘Telemedicine’
In a Verizon featured post entitled “mHealth to Grow Significantly Over the Next Five Years,” author Debi Lewis reiterated the importance of the nationwide rollout of ultrafast wireless mobile technology (4G LTE) in the health care industry. According to Lewis, it will fuel remote health monitoring technologies, making it possible for healthcare providers to deliver top-notch patient care while increasing cost savings. With speedy video conferencing via mobile devices and laptop webcams, patients can now connect with their medical staff 24/7, and seek immediate treatment with ease
Though telemedicine is still in its infancy, if mHealth is fully adopted by the health care providers, it is projected that over “160 million Americans will be monitored and treated remotely by 2020 for at least one chronic condition,” according to Nerac Research and Advisory Firm.
3. Self-Monitoring Devices For Remote Patient Care
In the past, there has been an issue regarding the reliability of remote patient care. How can the doctor recommend a prescription based on a phone call or video conversation? But, with the rise of self-monitoring devices, patients can now record their vital signs and relay the raw information straight to their medical care provider, before the virtual consultation takes place. One example of a complete set of self-monitoring system is the Healthcare Access tablet and peripherals from BL Healthcare in Massachusetts. The tablet is connected to the following tools to intelligently record the patient’s vitals:
- Blood Pressure Meter
- Weighing Scale
- Pulse Oximeter
- Peak Flow Meter
- Glucose Meter
- PT/INR Meter
- Digital Thermometer
- Examination Camera with HD resolution
[EDITOR: As I wrote in The role of Standards in Telehealth, proprietary designs increase product costs, minimize third-party app development, and limit market penetration, so such designs are becoming obsolete now that Android and iOS have become standardized platforms and can connect with sensor devices wirelessly through Bluetooth LE. I expect that if BL Heathcare were to start from scratch, they’d build their solution on Android and iOS.]
4. Healthcare Will Start To Adopt Cloud Technology
In commercial and business sectors, the use of cloud services is increasingly popular. They leverage the technology to store information and deliver internet-based training modules to their employees. As for the healthcare sector, the 2013 BlackBook survey indicated that cloud technologies are now being utilized by a growing number of independent physicians and integrated Emergency Health Records (EHRs) and Practice Management Systems. If this becomes available in public cloud servers, patients will no longer experience the difficulty of filling out forms and retrieving their medical history prior to consultations and hospital admittance. Their data can be easily accessed from the cloud using computer and mobile platforms.
5. Speech Recognition Will Proliferate
The use of natural language processing is still far from being deployed EHRs, but it’s now being developed this year. The Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah is now testing their prototype of what appears to be the industry’s first ever speech-enabled mobile application for physician order entry. This pioneering solution can only be used to order prescribed medications as of the moment, but, it is expected to progress to lab orders soon.
The advancements in mobile technology are indeed beneficial in enhancing the global healthcare systems. Hopefully, these innovations will launch as cost-effective solutions to help people from rural areas and those that have limited means. How do you view medical technology in the near future?
About the Author:
Sookie Lioncourt is well-acquainted with physicians and medical practitioners alike. As blogger specializing on healthcare technologies, she is also on-the-loop with the various technological trends in the industry. Connect with her via LinkedIn.