Patients and healthcare providers across the globe have come to the realization that depending solely on hospital systems will no longer be a viable option. Industry experts are of the opinion that ongoing advances in home healthcare devices and services will help alleviate the current pressure on the global healthcare system.
Technology has proven to be extremely critical to home healthcare. Current and upcoming advances in home healthcare technologies are not only designed for effective disease control but also encourage and enable individuals to live independently.
Technological interventions were complex and expensive in the past. However, growing need and demand for convenient and effective remote patient monitoring, development of new and innovative technologies, and availability of sufficient funding have led to increased accessibility to low-cost technologies and devices.
The new and affordable in-home gadgets are not just popular among geriatrics looking to age at home. The customer base has rapidly expanded to include new patient groups, such as those suffering from chronic illnesses, children, and diabetics. This is sure to pave the way for a brighter future for both patients and healthcare providers.
Growing Use of Biosensors to Monitor Geriatric Health
When it comes to home healthcare for the geriatric, there are several innovative technologies and gadgets that have been seamlessly integrated into the assisted living or senior living industry, or in what is more broadly referred to as geriatric care services. Speaking from a strictly medical perspective, recent technologies for monitoring the health of senior citizens include blood pressure monitoring devices, oxygen therapy devices, patient temperature management devices, and cardiac monitoring and cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices.
An article by NBC News sheds light on the growing adoption of sensor technology in the U.S., especially for senior living. Allowing for improved estimation of a patient or individual's metabolic state at a remote location, biosensors enable constant monitoring of those seniors who suffer from a number of different ailments but choose to live independently, out of hospitals and nursing homes. The NBC article discusses the use of such sophisticated sensors to track an elderly couple's walking speed, heart rates, and even sleep patterns. This unobtrusive technology also sends alerts in case of emergencies, allowing timely intervention of family members or caregivers. Like several medical device companies, research organizations, and medical universities, ElderTech, Missouri, has been studying the significance of environmentally-embedded in-home sensor networks and their relevance in detecting health changes in older adults.
Development of Portable Digital Devices to Remotely Track Heart Conditions
As the medical devices industry undergoes a tectonic shift with the advent of telemedicine, the field of cardiology has also felt its ensuing benefits. Soaring incidence of cardiovascular disorders and the subsequent need for constant monitoring of outpatients have resulted in demand for cardiac monitoring and cardiac rhythm management (CRM). Home healthcare is a leading end user of these devices, with demand for ECG and cardiac monitors, Holter monitors, event monitors, and ILR (implantable loop recorder) continuously rising.
Interviewing the founders of Eko Devices, The New York Times talks about growing competition in the telemedicine business. Eko is one of the many cardiovascular care companies that has been capitalizing on the home healthcare industry.
In a recent development, the company developed a digital stethoscope specifically catering to cardiac patients at home. This innovative palm-sized device, called DUO, has the potential to alter the way heart patients are monitored. Combining electrocardiogram or EKG and electronic stethoscope in just one device, DUO provides unprecedented insight into cardiac functions. This includes tracking and quickly reviewing heart rhythms and sounds to enable advanced bedside analysis and, if required, remote care.
Need for Constant Glucose Monitoring Driving Demand for Diabetes Devices
With medical devices becoming increasingly interconnected thanks to rising penetration of the Internet, growing use of smartphones and a slew of other medical devices, and expanding hospital networks, detecting and managing diabetes at home has become not only convenient but rather effective. Today, there are a wide range of diabetes devices available, promising quick and accurate results. User-friendly designs of most devices and increasing awareness levels among the diabetic population across the globe has resulted in a rather massive market for self-monitoring devices to be used in home settings.
A recent research article sponsored and reviewed by Avantes BV – a prominent innovator in the development and application of miniature spectrometers, focuses on the need for non-invasive diabetes diagnosis and monitoring. In order to detect and treat diabetes before it gets out of hand, constant glucose monitoring and maintenance is crucial, and for the longest time, existing diagnostic standards and therapies were immensely invasive. Moreover, managing this disease out of hospital settings was extremely difficult. However, advanced medical sensing technologies have enabled easy and non-invasive blood glucose monitoring and diabetes testing. Latest innovations have also ensured convenient and user-friendly insulin self-administration devices.
Wearable technology has been one of the most prominent innovations to benefit and empower diabetics around the world. These devices have been allowing diabetics to take charge of their own health outside the doctor's clinic and effectively manage the condition. Smartwatches, interestingly, have shown immense potential to enable needle-less glucose monitoring with time. Apple Inc. is reportedly working on developing sensors for monitoring of blood sugar levels, an advancement that could turn devices such as the Apple Watch into a means of monitoring important vitals. The aim is to develop sensors that can non-invasively and regularly monitor blood sugar levels to help diabetics treat the condition from the comfort of their homes.
An article in The New York Times recently shed light on the shrinking community of home health aides or personal care attendants in the U.S. According to Paul Osterman of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, if the number of workers in this field of home healthcare continues to fall, the country will be faced with a shortage of around 350,000 paid care providers by 2040. This alarming fact makes the development of advanced remote patient monitoring devices even more crucial.
Keeping this need in mind, companies are looking to devise technologies that will, in a way, replace human service providers with digital home healthcare assistants. To put this into perspective, home health aides are now testing Amazon's Echo platform as a home healthcare assistant. Researchers hope that the companion online app will be increasingly responsive to clients' needs, keep family caregivers in the loop at all times, and effectively streamline alerts, reminders, and functions.
This opportunity is sure to capture the interest of tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon, giving them an opportunity to emerge as trailblazers in home healthcare.