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20 examples of wearables and IoT disrupting healthcare
Take a look at 20 examples of how IoT wearables redefine healthcare.
The Internet of Things (IoT) redefines many aspects of our day: how we control and automate the environment we live in, how we shop, how we get healthcare, and so much more. Wearables bring about a new digitized and connected economy, where people and organizations collaborate in different and more profound ways, devices communicate with other devices, and customers choose what they want and need without physical constraints.
Intelligent orchestration, configuration, analytics, management tools, and continuous delivery and deployment keep companies sane and more productive. With IoT remote functioning, there’s almost nothing that we can’t access virtually over the internet (as long as we have access to it).
IoT and wearables have emerged as an element of intense business and social change, as well as a result of global forces driving this change. It has reshaped modern society in many good ways. Wearables are changing business and management processes, operations, and models while creating new value, improving efficiency, and leading to new ways of making money and delivering more excellent value to customers. When it comes to the world of pharma and healthcare, wearables open up a whole world of possibilities. When ordinary medical wearable devices are connected to the internet, they can collect essential data which could be life-saving. They also provide extra insight into symptoms and trends of any particular physiological or psychological disorder. IoT enables the execution, into reality, of remote care, which was once just the stuff of science fiction. Generally speaking, IoT gives patients more control over their treatment. They can witness a blow-by-blow development of their disorder(s) healing through wearable medical devices connected to the internet.
The next decade is IoT’s decade
Over the next ten years, we may see a disease treatment and diagnosis revolution. IoT wearable devices are reshaping how we receive healthcare, equipping companies-sponsors, doctors, and patients with innovative insights and analytics. The data obtained from the IoT devices help healthcare, pharma, and life science companies to make better decisions and gain a competitive advantage. The advancements in IoT and its continuous coordination with Pharma and the Healthcare Industries will launch the evolution of real-time monitoring and treatment of diseases. The following are ongoing IoT developments:
1. Continuous glucose monitoring systems
1 in 11 adults worldwide has diabetes. What’s more, 46% of people with diabetes are not diagnosed. Currently, various solutions on the market help deliver insulin to the body and monitor glucose levels. Wearable devices for diabetes include continuous glucose monitoring systems and automated insulin delivery systems.
The most famous constant glucose monitors are Dexcom and Eversense. Eversense is the first FDA-approved serial glucose monitor with a fully implantable sensor that tracks glucose levels and can be worn for up to 90 days.
Beta Bionics has developed a fully integrated medical wearable device that can autonomously manage blood sugar levels 24/7 for people having type 1 diabetes. Right now is in the state of clinical testing and not available for sale.
2. Wearable device for heart attacks
People that suffer from dangerously fast heartbeat (tachycardia) and abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmia) may utilize either wearable defibrillators or implantable defibrillators. Wearable defibrillators, such as Zoll LifeVest 4000, help treat life-threatening heart rhythms for people with a risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The device continuously monitors the heart’s rhythm. When it detects a life-threatening rhythm, it can produce a shock treatment to restore the patient’s heart rate to normal. However, the device is quite costly, costing $3,370 per month.
Patients suffering from irregular heartbeats can also opt to use implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. They are small battery-powered devices placed in the chest and monitor abnormal heartbeats. They also can simulate the heartbeat if the heart rate is too slow. Implantable defibrillators proved to be an effective tool to prevent sudden death in patients suffering from fibrillation or tachycardia.
3. Protection against concussion
A wearable device worn on the neck helps to protect the brain from sports traumas and concussions. The concussions are caused by the movement of the brain inside the skull. Such sharp movements can cause structural brain changes and long-term damage that affects brain function. The Q-Collar uses the body’s physiology to stabilize the brain inside the skull by slightly constricting the jugular vein in the neck. This pressure increases the blood volume inside the skull and helps to decrease brain movement and avoid a concussion.
It’s not only about solid hits to the head that leads to a concussion. Tiny, repeated hits, called subconcussive hits, can affect brain function and result in structural changes in the brain. The wearable Q-Collar can protect from forceful movement in the brain.
4. Sensors for stroke patients
Electromyography (EMG) sensors measure muscle movements that help rehabilitate prosthetic patients and patients after a stroke. In particular, EMG sensors help to self-monitor and strengthen muscle conditions by measuring the activity associated with muscle contractions. These wireless and non-invasive sensors can also assess nerve condition and muscle response in the injured tissues.
5. Asthma monitoring wearable technology
In a conventional situation, most people with asthma will not know they are having an attack until it is at an advanced level. This is annoying, not to mention very dangerous. With medicine that is on hand, the person can intervene against the attack, but the feeling of exhaustion will have crept up on them and depleted their energy.
Intelligent Asthma Monitoring wearable technology can forecast, in advance, oncoming asthma attacks before the patient wearing the device even notice the asthma symptoms.
When the patient sneezes, coughs, wheezes, or experiences shortness of breath, the medicine is whipped out and used to alleviate the effects of the asthma attack. That’s reactive medicine, whereas the wearable device with IoT is Predictive Medicine.
6. Movement disorders
People suffering from movement disorders and Parkinson’s disease can use Apple Watch to measure and record dyskinetic symptoms and tremors. The Apple Watch app monitors the symptoms’ severity and helps patients plan their activities around the symptom patterns. The Apple Watch Health app helps evaluate patient medication response and track the disease progression.
7. Coagulation monitoring
For some patients, blood coagulation is observed closely so they stay within a normal range. If they have an extended period of blood coagulation (longer than usual), this increases the risk of stroke or bleeding for them.
A recently developed Bluetooth-enabled coagulation system enables patients to check how quickly their blood clots are in real-time. They do self-testing, and the results are transmitted to their healthcare providers. They don’t need to visit the clinic regularly as they did before, and the patients can also add comments when the results are transmitted. The device also acts as a reminder to the patient to do the self-test and also issues a warning when the results are not within the target range.
8. Depression monitored through an app
Depression is an illusive condition compared to other physiological disorders. Its symptoms are hard to be captured. However, recent Internet-age developments make it more measurable and preventable.
An Apple Watch app has been developed to monitor and assess patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). An exploratory study was recently conducted wherein participants used the app daily to monitor their mood and cognition. While it has not been launched for widespread use, it showed the potential for wearable technology to evaluate the effects of depression in real-time. The app also gives data that provides insight into the still abstract world of mental illness and encourages more meaningful professional conversations about it.
9. Smart contact lenses
Medical smart contact lenses are an ambitious venture in the Internet of Things (IoT) context. Not much development has been achieved in this medical field.
One of the few success stories for wearable devices is about noninvasive smart contact lenses that automatically record eye dimension changes. There is also a warning that this ocular deterioration can lead to glaucoma if left untreated. This technology is now CE-marked and FDA-approved for marketing and sale in Europe and the USA. It is also approved for sale in Japan.
10. Monitoring medical adherence
Some patients suffering from hypertension, diabetes, psychosis, and other conditions are non-adherent to the prescribed medications, mostly due to forgetfulness. Non-adherence to prescription drugs leads to more hospital readmissions and clinical complications. Wearable smart necklaces are capable of determining whether the drug has been ingested based on the skin movement of the neck when the person swallows.
Bayesian networks help to classify the swallowing of medication capsules, drinking water precisely, and saliva swallows with a total precision rate of 90%. Such wearable necklaces can assess medication adherence with high accuracy and assist patients with forgetfulness.
11. Cancer treatment
The developments we are currently seeing have stopped people with medical conditions from being prisoners in their homes and are minimizing their need to visit the hospital regularly.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, has moderated the randomized clinical trial of 357 patients who received treatment for head and neck cancer treatment. They used a Bluetooth-enabled weight scale and blood pressure cuff linked to a symptom-tracking app. This system sends weekly updates to the patient’s physicians regarding their symptoms and treatment responses.
This system is called CYCORE, and through this, the participating patients have shown diminished severe symptoms connected with their cancer compared to patients who carried on with conventional weekly doctor visits. CYCORE enables the patients and their care providers to identify immediately emerging side effects and symptoms so they can be addressed quickly and efficiently.
12. Posture correction
Upright Go, a small wearable device, helps patients to train themselves to employ a healthier posture using biofeedback. It produces a slight vibration when the person wearing the device is slouching. In the app, users can see an onscreen avatar that mirrors their position as they wear the device. This avatar becomes red when the posture is stooping, thus motivating the person to get into a straighter, healthier position. Plus, the biofeedback vibration helps users form better overall posture behaviors and reduce future spinal problems.
13. Hearing aid
People with hearing disabilities can use digital hearing aids that convert sound waves into digital signals and produce precise sound duplication. The computer chips embedded in the digital hearing aids can analyze speech and other sounds in the environment. Digital hearing aids have substantial flexibility in hearing aid programming, so that sound they produce can be. matched to the specific hearing loss pattern. For example, iPhone users can utilize Airpods’ Live Listen feature to amplify the sounds they hear. With this functionality people with hearing impairments can clearly hear the conversation in the noisy area.
14. Sleep monitoring
Wearable devices can measure and provide recommendations for improving your sleep. One of such wearables is Beddit. It measures sleep time, heart rate, breathing, humidity, and room temperature. Users can set up sleep time goals and based on the sleep patterns the app can recommend how to achieve these goals with bedtime reminders and nudges.
15. Early detection of Alzheimer’s
55 million people all over the world suffer from Alzheimer’s. Strikinlgy, the number is expected to reach 78 million by 2030. Right now no cure can stop the progression of dementia. To develop treatments for dementia neurodegeneration is needed at the very early stage to detect the disease before the symptoms appear. At the moment there are invasive and expensive solutions, such as PET brain imaging and cerebrospinal fluid sampling. The Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases (EDoN) aims to develop a cost-effective and non-invasive wearable that helps to detect Alzheimer’s at the earliest stage.
16. Hospital internal monitoring
IoT devices are very useful in hospitals. Medical equipment is tagged with sensors that track, in real time, its location within the hospital parameters. This could include portable equipment like defibrillators, nebulizers, wheelchairs, oxygen pumps and other essential medical devices.
Additionally, the location of medical staff could be detected in real time through a wearable. In this time of widespread viruses, IoT-enabled hygiene devices can be made operational anytime that health and sanitation conditions are deemed imperiled.
17. Respiratory disease detection
Wearable respiratory monitoring sensors, placed as a patch over the chest, can alert patients on a smartphone about changes in their breathing patterns, heart rate, and temperature. These signals provide early detection of lung function deterioration. The device can transmit exacerbations that need the quick attention of a doctor.
Accurate breathing pattern monitoring helps to assess and predict disease progression, enabling medical personnel to provide treatment early and avoid lung failure.
18. Artificial kidneys
The most popular treatment worldwide for kidney failure is in-hospital hemodialysis. With the advances in wearable technology, artificial kidneys can potentially transform the lives of patients with kidney failures. With the latest research from Arkansas University, we’re one step closer to artificial kidneys. Scientists have created a synthetic nephron, a device that can filter the blood similarly to biological nephrons. This nephron can be combined with nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, and reverse osmosis modules that can further be integrated into artificial kidneys.
19. Blood sensors
Scientists and engineers from Brolis Sensor Technology are developing a non-invasive wearable sensor remotely testing the concentration of crucial blood elements such as glucose, ketones, lactate, urea, or ethanol. The wearable sensor uses infrared laser absorption spectroscopy to listen to the rotational-vibrational movements of molecules. It currently helps people suffering from chronic health conditions such as diabetes and can measure blood glucose levels without puncturing their fingers a couple of times daily.
20. Lung monitoring
According to the World Health Organisation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is considered the top disease causing the most considerable number of deaths worldwide. The WELMO project aims to develop and validate the cost-effective and low-power miniaturized sensors that can be integrated into the intelligent vest and effectively monitor the lungs, simultaneously collecting sound and electric impedance tomography signals. This will help to make an accurate and comprehensive real-time evaluation of the lung status and function and to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease more efficiently.
The bottom line
Avenga professionals have experience in developing software for IoT devices like wearables, smartphones, and in-home health devices that enable precise patient monitoring and enhance the flexibility of clinical trials. We can help with developing digital solutions for patient monitoring, adverse monitoring and reporting, emergency notification systems, and for other use cases scenarios as well.
At Avenga, we work with medium-size enterprises and large businesses to develop functional and elegant wearable apps that work perfectly across different devices. We specialize in health wearable application development, such as self-tracking health wearable apps, and biometric and biofeedback apps.
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