December 13-15, 2018

MedTech Impact 2018

Venetian/Palazzo Resort

Las Vegas, NV

(561) 893-8633

info@medtechimpact.com

Tag Archives: mobile devices

Healthcare in the Home: Technology & Patient Care

The increase in human lifespan—currently at an average of 80 years in developed countries—is often attributed to improved medical treatments and technologies, including innovations like the discovery of antibiotics and enhanced care for once-fatal occurrences like heart attacks. Yet advancements in medical technology also impact quality of life, particularly as people age. Many recent breakthroughs have improved seniors’ ability to remain healthy throughout the aging process, while simultaneously improving home care and challenges like overcrowded hospitals and remote populations.

The ways in which technology facilitates aging in place and patient care at home include wearable health devices, the concept of telehealth, and mobile apps. Wireless and wearable devices like Fitbits, smartwatches, and other technologies can provide useful data surrounding heart rate, calories, steps walked, sleep hygiene, and stress experienced. While these devices provide information to patients, they also can be configured to automatically deliver data to physicians—who can more accurately monitor patient health and continually screen for potential risk factors or new health issues. Moreover, in addition to devices that specifically monitor health, there are now wearable devices that can remind patients to take pills or perform other necessary medical tasks. Some predict that by 2018 over 81 million Americans will use some form of wearable technology.

The technological breakthroughs in communication and connectedness have also made it possible to provide healthcare services to remote places and populations. In 2016, approximately 74% of employers offered a ‘telehealth’ option as part of their medical service benefits. Through these services, a simple video chat with a clinician serves as a bridge for patient recommendations for treatment or further care. Because those who live in remote areas cannot easily access doctors’ offices—reports indicate that the physician-to-patient ratio in rural areas is 39 per 100,000, whereas in urban areas it is 53 per 100,000—telehealth technologies allow patients to easily access quality healthcare.

Finally, the ability to easily and rapidly connect customers with workers through mobile apps helps the healthcare industry by providing on-demand services to patients in need. These services include visiting patients’ homes, helping to set up smart devices, delivering medical products and equipment, and assisting with routine tasks. Not only does the need for on-demand professional services foster and create an entirely new industry, but it also dramatically improves home patient care.

Because the constant breakthroughs in technology are consistently increasing the human lifespan, the quality of our lives gains even more importance. Wearable medical devices, telehealth, and app-enabled, on-demand services can collectively help enhance the quality of healthcare in the home.

The Financial Potential of Digital Health

New research indicates that digital health has the potential to save up to $46 billion in annual healthcare spending, according to a new report from IQVIA (Quintiles/IMS Health). Murray Aitken, Executive Director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, describes a new landscape of healthcare, in which a model that looks across five different patient population groups has seen a proven reduction in acute care utilization–typically hospitalization–when consumer mobile apps are used.

“Diabetes prevention, diabetes care, asthma, cardiac rehabilitation, and pulmonary rehabilitation: in each of those five areas we took the results from published research and modeled that to estimate that if these available apps today were used by all patients who could benefit from them, the US healthcare system could save $7 billion per year. So that’s just for five areas. If that level of savings was achievable across all disease areas, we’re looking at annual savings of something like $46 billion.”

While there is an incontrovertible increase in terms of innovation, and increased evidence surrounding the impact that digital health can have on outcomes in addition to cost, there is also an uptick in adoption of mobile health apps. Aitken and his team report that there are now more than 318,500 health-related consumer apps available for download: nearly twice the amount from two years ago. Around 200 new apps are added to the marketplace each day.

The majority of health apps are comprised of general wellness apps, yet recent advancements in chronic condition management apps have made them increasingly popular and relevant. In addition to the apps themselves, there is a growing amount of efficacy data available surrounding the apps, based on searches on ClinicalTrials.gov. As of February, there were 869 active trials utilizing digital health technology worldwide; 540 were in the United States.

Moreover, several of the barriers to adoption that were previously restrictive are changing; as there are more publications regarding privacy and security guidelines, app formularies are being officially established, and there is a continued shift to value-based care. “We still have a long way to go,” says Aitken. “We don’t want to overstate the extent to which mobile health apps have become mainstream, but relative to four years ago, there is a lot of progress that has been made.”

FDA Encourages Development of Medical Technology

The Food and Drug Administration has recently announced a program that actively encourages the development of medical digital technology, including wireless wearables and applications that can monitor blood pressure and heart rate, track intake of calories, and measure physical activity.

The program is designed to give pre-clearance to developers working on digital health products, as the approval process for apps sometimes includes burdensome regulations, which can increase costs and limit innovation: the FDA hopes to reduce development costs and give entrepreneurs increased opportunities to develop products.

Read More