Digital health was prominently displayed at CES this year with lots of floor space dedicated to the industry and a cornucopia of health and fitness-focused wearable devices debuting in Las Vegas.
The declining costs of hardware components, the ubiquity of smartphones and the need for consumers to cut their medical costs is spurring innovation in many areas of digital health. Given these trends, the line between health and fitness devices is blurring. Every consumer electronics company from Sony to LG to Samsung is either getting into the game or thinking about it. But as activity tracking becomes increasingly more commoditized, health device makers need to step-up their offerings and focus on disease management and improving outcomes. Every patient consumer wants simple interfaces that engage them and allows them to gain valuable insights into their health and wellbeing – not achieved by the current cadre of activity sensors.
Health device makers and wellness apps wanting to provide real value for their customers are moving beyond step counting and integrating into connected health services in the cloud. These services use a holistic approach to engaging the provider and patient in managing adherence and compliance and by extension – outcomes. Incorporating physicians, pharmacists, therapists and trainers as part of an integrated “care-team” allows for meaningful patient engagement easing compliance and allowing patients to become “emotionally” accountable for using the app or device as directed by their care-team. For healthcare providers, this same integration made possible by ubiquitous connectivity – allows them to think and engage beyond the practical aspects of care – the exam, laboratory test or simple disease management.
The past year has proved that many pieces are in place (desire, policy, market demand, innovation, investment, etc.) for a radical transformation in healthcare. We’re beginning to see many aspects of our health and wellness reimagined. There is now a growing community of stakeholders who understand that change is not only possible, but inevitable, and best of all are taking action to see those changes come true. The next step in this tectonic shift, is leveraging a higher level of connectivity where data, devices and humans are optimally connected to enable good care decisions – shifting the cost curve and encouraging accountability and adherence beyond what’s offered by today’s consumer health devices.
Google unveiled a contact lens that monitors glucose levels in tears, a potential reprieve for millions of diabetics who have to jab their finger to draw their own blood as many as 10 times a day. The lens uses a minuscule glucose sensor and a wireless transmitter to help the 382 million diabetics around the world that need need insulin and who keep a close watch of their sugar levels. Read more
Wearables moved from the buzz idea of 2013 into a tangle of clips, bands, badges, brooches, glasses, earpieces and headsets. It’s all too easy to be cynical about the products launched at this annual tech frenzy in the Mojave Desert, but here’s a skeptical case between the tech crowd’s boosterism and the casual scoffing. Let’s step back and try to separate the potential from the hyperbole. Read more
As the market for connected wearable devices set to grow sharply, Broadcom isn’t sitting on the sidelines. The company’s latest chip includes a processor, Bluetooth Smart and wireless charging support, making it an all-in-one choice for makers of smartwatches and other devices.
Consumers have been snapping up connected fitness gadgets such as the Fitbit and the Jawbone this year. Next year, we’ll see this kind of ubiquitous sensor technology extend to the enterprise as part of the “Internet of things,” according to an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Research shows that repeated hard knocks to the head during impact sports can cause long-term brain injury. But it can be hard for coaches watching from the sidelines to tell how hard a blow really was.
That’s why MC10 developed a skullcap to be worn alone or underneath a helmet that detects how hard a player’s skull is hit. Depending on the severity of the impact, different colored LEDs light up on the back of the cap for all to see.
Broadcom has become a big name in consumer electronics and networking chips. But now the multibillion-dollar Irvine, Calif.-based chip design firm sees an even bigger opportunity in the market of silicon chips for wearable computing devices. The market for connected, wearable electronics is expected to hit $1.5 billion by 2014. And the company’s WICED Direct platform brings Internet connectivity to all sorts of previously unconnected appliances and wearable devices.
Too many products look like they were designed by men in Silicon Valley for men in Silicon Valley, says one wearable tech CEO. The people in real life who wear Nike Fuelbands, Jawbone Ups and Fitbits may not be models, but they tend not to be the people most in need of extra fitness motivation. So how do you get the less-fit masses to join the fitness-tracking bandwagon?
I was glad to hear that Asthmapolis recently received venture funding. They have developed a very simple but clever device that attaches to pretty much any inhaler and logs the time, date and location of each puff. Tracking when and where each puff occurs allows people that suffer from asthma to track triggers and irritants and learn about their specific symptoms over time.
Asthmapolis is a simple wireless pressure sensor that syncs with a smartphone using Bluetooth. Once the sensor is paired with the phone, the Asthmapolis app automatically captures data from the sensor when it’s used. The app uses the phone’s GPS and time keeping features to log information about location, date and time. That information gets translated into maps, trends and logs that are easy to understand by the consumer/patient and gives them personalized feedback. Patients can elect to share their data with family members and their physician, allowing for an objective assessment of how well controlled the condition is. In the future, patient data can be aggregated with environmental and atmospheric data to give authorities and health care professionals a broader picture of what to expect when high levels of pollen or other environmental triggers have been detected.
Asthmapolis is a great example of how a simple connected sensor can make a real difference in monitoring adherence and treatment of a chronic condition that affects 26 million Americans.