The COVID-19 pandemic has vividly illustrated the need for a higher level of connected health. As millions of Americans sheltered in place, particularly those with chronic or emerging serious diseases, it wasn’t simply a matter of convenience for patients to connect to and capture and share vital signs and other critical health information with their doctors from home — it was a necessity.
And it appears there is no going back, especially since so many patients have now experienced the benefits of more convenient ways to monitor their health conditions. Sixty percent of health care organizations will invest in virtual care technology in 2021, according to a recent BDO survey of health care chief financial officers.
Responding to this growing demand, tech companies large and small have been working feverishly on devices for the home that can help patients not only better monitor their health, but also detect diseases earlier.
Many took part in last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, introducing new digital health devices. While these solutions are aimed at consumers, and health data from them isn’t automatically shared with providers, they help illustrate a growing trend of consumer demand — the patient home as the center of care.
Consumers and caregivers alike have always valued devices that monitor vital signs but, as the pandemic has shown, there is a need for greater information in areas like respiratory function. One new wearable sensor from Philips can track resting respiratory rate, along with other physiological biometrics and symptomatic events such as cough frequency, skin temperature, resting heart rate, body position and activity levels.
Other digital health technologies are aimed at making it easier for patients to track and report their conditions. The HealthyU from HD Medical remotely monitors multiple vital signs while providing a built-in, seven-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) stethoscope. The device can track lung sounds, heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate and blood pressure without a cuff.
Themis Smart Mirror
A new smart mirror acts as a personal wellness assistant to perform skin and mood analysis and visual acuity tests, and can provide smart alerts, daily temperature checks and fertility-cycle reminders. The Themis device collects data from several sensors, including an RGB camera, infrared temperature sensor and an ultraviolet light for skin analysis. The device can link with ECG trackers, smart scales and digital showerheads for a fully integrated bathroom.
FallCall Detect App
Some products are geared toward the detection of emergency care. The FallCall Detect app for the AppleWatch can distinguish between falls with greater force that are more likely to cause injury and falls that occur from a sitting position. If a high-impact call is detected, FallCall’s medical monitoring service is automatically contacted and will send emergency medical services if needed. If a low-impact fall is detected, only a user’s pre-designated support contact is notified.