Connected Healthcare Relies on Data

10/12/2012

Healthcare is a personal topic. The technologies and services used in healthcare affect people’s wellbeing, and as such they are placed under heightened scrutiny. So that makes it even more significant when people begin to embrace a technological tool for healthcare. By bringing the tool into one of the most important areas of life, people show they trust the technology and see the value it can provide.

Increasingly, this is the case with connected devices for healthcare. Both patients and doctors are turning to a variety of products to aid in diagnosis, recovery, and preventive care. Also, people are becoming more likely to conduct digital health activities on multiple devices. Manhattan Research, www.mahattanresearch.com, conducted a study on health habits that showed healthcare is becoming increasingly multiscreen. In other words, healthcare activities may be conducted on smartphones and tablets in addition to laptops or PCs. In fact, among users who own a tablet, smartphone, and a desktop or laptop computer, Manhattan’s research indicates 60% of these users are accessing health information on all three devices.

Research shows the number of U.S. adults using mobile phones for health information and tools grew from 61 million in 2011 to 75 million in 2012. When considering tablets alone, the number doubled from 15 million to 29 million during the same time period, says Manhattan.


Interestingly, the research firm says tablets show particular promise for older consumers. Nearly half of online consumers aged 55 and older who own or use a tablet are using these devices for health information or tools.

Connected devices are also being used to communicate from inside a patient’s body. Examples include CareLink Express Service from Medtronic, www.medtronic.com, a remote monitoring system that allows doctors insight into the status of patients’ implanted cardiac devices. The patient’s implanted device can communicate with a monitor at the hospital, and the data collected is transmitted to the CareLink Network.

Other uses of connected technology are popping up in various medical fields. For instance, researchers are developing ways to use gaming technology to benefit physical therapy patients. The West Health Institute, www.westhealth.org, announced it’s working on a tool for therapy that uses Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows motion-tracking platform. Most of us know the Kinect technology from the Xbox, where the sensor allows for controller-free gaming by detecting the gamer’s movements.

West Health Institute, which is an independent, non-profit medical research organization, calls the technology RMT (Reflexion Rehabilitation Measurement Tool), and it’s designed to allow therapists to potentially remotely monitor how patients are doing with their prescribed exercises. The tool would also allow for customized plans and schedules for the patient. West says the RMT would provide interactive feedback that could help patients stick with their prescribed therapy plans, while also helping them to know if they are performing the exercises correctly.

Currently, West Health Institute says the RMT is undergoing clinical research studies at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

With connected technology making inroads in so many areas of healthcare, it’s likely that in the future data will play a larger role in wellness. Data can be shared among doctors, patients, and care providers to keep a closer eye on health and recovery. Ideally, the data collected should lead to a better outcome for the patient.





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