Wearable Technology

The future of Connected Care: an impending technological revolution?

How can the effective use of wearable technology and similar innovations lessen the burden of healthcare worldwide?

Consider this: Mark, a diabetic, experiences hypoglycemic symptoms during a presentation at his office. He checks the biometric wearable device on his arm to see the parameters. The dial glows yellow and shows 69mg/dL.

He tries to ignore it and continues with the presentation for another fifteen minutes, but the device starts beeping. Another look shows that it has dipped further to 60mg/dL. He stops his presentation, and within three minutes and without any request for help, paramedics are already in his office with the medications that will help him recover.

How did this happen? The wearable device in this scenario not only monitors parameters and informs the wearer about it, but also shares the information with medical facilities in the vicinity of the wearer. The medical facility also receives all other relevant information about the patient, synced through the cloud, so it has a complete patient health profile.

The physicians there can carry out a genetic profiling. This takes less than an hour and provides a comprehensive picture. It will include useful factors such as other health conditions which could conflict with any new diabetes medication.

The physicians share this information through an Electronic Health Record (EHR), with a renowned pharmaceutical company that can then develop customized medicines for Mark. These medicines will target his needs more accurately than generic drugs can. A 10-minute consultation with Mark reveals that the reason for the his hypoglycemic episode was that he had forgotten to take his medicine on time.

The physician therefore requests that the pharmaceutical company insert digestible microchips into the tablets. These will inform the medical facility whether Mark is taking his medicines and, if he does not, will allow them to inform him through his wearable device or over a call. This is Connected Care in action in the near future.

The roadmap to Connected Care

This scenario gives a very brief glimpse into the role Connected Care will play in a patient-centric ecosystem made possible through the efforts of both the healthcare and life sciences industries.

What's more, with the speed at which technology is pervading these two industries, this will be just one of many digitally-enabled scenarios that will be playing out soon. Wearables and personalized medicine make up a small portion of the vast universe of the health and life sciences industries currently undergoing a major technological haul.

What does the future look like for these industries? It is replete with opportunities for bionics, robotics, smart implants, nano-medicines, non-invasive surgeries, laboratory-on-chip, nano-sensors, tele-monitoring, regenerative medicine and gamification – the list goes on.

The common thread running through each of these technological innovations is Connected Care. The key principle here is to connect patients, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and payers to develop and deliver all the necessary elements. This will provide the right healthcare to every patient in need.

These innovations will transform the way that treatments and therapies are delivered, will enable remote monitoring for all, and make health and fitness tracking mandatory for better population health management. Nothing short of a technological and digital revolution will make this possible.

Helping build the connected ecosystem

We need to develop capabilities and strategies to leverage these technologies and make the most of all that they have to offer. We also have to cultivate the insights that can drive decisions on which technological advancement we should nurture and further through clinical trials and experiments. If not, the full potential of future advancements will not be fully realized.

For instance, research by PwC reveals that while over 80% of consumers believe that wearables can make aspects of healthcare easier and more effective, few have adopted such technologies. The same study shows that the $2.8 trillion healthcare system in the U.S. will only be able to make the most of this segment if pharmaceutical and life science companies are able to effectively communicate the benefits of wearables to consumers.

We also need to understand the impact that digital technologies are having on the industries. For starters, it is shifting control from the hands of the providers – pharmaceutical and medical device companies and physicians – to that of the consumers who are, in this case, the patients.

Conversations are no longer initiated and moderated by the providers - it is the patients themselves. Active online communities and other platforms are used to discuss and share experiences with new-age medical devices and therapies. This creates a wealth of data that can generate valuable insights on drug usefulness and safety that players in both industries can leverage for delivering better solutions.

Connected Care will fast-track process efficiency. When the right analytics tools are paired with the right sensors and technology, the generated data is converted quickly and effectively into information that can be of use to several departments.

In the case of Mark, for instance, the sensors in the wearables shared data in real-time. This was then interpreted as information that required immediate attention. Finally, the information was communicated to the emergency department of the medical facility, who could then mobilize a team with the necessary skills and medical resources.

While it is important to adopt the correct technologies, it is equally essential to build an ecosystem that can successfully connect all these elements. With a strong infrastructure, this Connected Care approach can provide the foundation on which physicians, pharmaceutical and medical companies and payers can connect and leverage the data the devices generate and collect.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.



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