Each year we all turn our eyes to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. We look to see how big the newest TV will be, we look to see how small the next set of headphones will be, or how our refrigerator will order our groceries . It has historically been a show about gadgets.
The past few years this trend is bending a little bit and we are seeing more and more electronics for consumers that have a medical impact. Companies are looking at the impact their products can have on an individual’s health, about how communication between the patient and doctor can be enhanced and believe it or not how these products can identify illness sooner and thus save medical finances as well.
The CES just ended a week ago and healthcare continues to grow in this space. Each year we take a couple of minutes to discuss what companies are looking at, how they may impact our health today and what the future may hold.
Healthcare at the CES is focused on 4 main areas.
Accessibility – with more than 1 billion individuals around the world with a disability that impacts their daily life, technology is looking to make the world more accessible to those with disabilities. Screen readers, hearing aids, self-driving cars much technology is being focused on individuals with disabilities that will impact their lives and health. We are seeing a shift where the technology for individuals is actually part of the design process
Digital health – Remote monitoring appears to be the big topic now. The ability to monitor some health related data point with ease and without being in a physician’s office or hospital is changing the world we live in. Digital health is growing faster than we could imagine. Home monitoring for existing conditions as well as monitoring identifying conditions as they occur in real time is the future
Fitness and Wearables- the Nike fuel band was all the rage a few years ago, a band to wear on our arms that captured our steps and calories burned, my how far have we come and how much further we can go in this field was highlighted. We have moved beyond arm bands and into clothes, implantable and flexible membranes, it is a new world
Artificial Intelligence – The world will not be taken over by robots but we certainly will see that machine based learning will impact and change the way medicine is practiced in the future. Computers that can read every journal published in seconds will make medical research advance faster and more broadly than ever.
So what was new and exciting at CES this year from the medical view. The products presented continue to show how technology will impact the way healthcare is delivered in our homes, in the doctor’s office and in the hospital.
The Wave from Embr labs is an interesting piece of technology. The Wave is a bracelet that you wear. It gives your skin the sensation you feel you need without changing your temperature. If you feel hot it cools an area on the inside of your wrist on your skin which tells your brain you are cooler and thus you feel cooler. If you have a sensation of being cold it warms an area of skin which convinces your brain that you are warmer and in a comfortable zone again. This is important for many seniors as temperature regulation sensation is difficult. It allows for the individual to be comfortable without changing the ambient room temperature or the patient’s body temperature. The bracelet has the capability to change the overall feeling of the individual by 5 degrees. It has been shown to help with sleep related sensations of temperature swings, stress related temperature swings as well as normal day to day concerns. The cost is under $300
It is a tool that can help you feel warmer or colder without changing the temperature of the room. We know that we all have different tolerances to temperatures, what I find cold others may find warm and vice versa. This technology allows you to have a feeling of a temperature change of 5 degrees.
TytoCare and MedWand
What if I told you that you could have a complete visit and exam by a physician without ever leaving your home, office or on vacation. You all are thinking we know we can do that, there are doctors who make home visits now. What if I said you could do this at 3 am, or in the middle of a national park miles away from a doctor? You may laugh but that technology is here now and may change the way we even have a simple primary care visit.
Think of the typical doctor visit now, you take a day off of work, you drive to the doctor’s office, you hopefully find a parking spot as you rush to make sure you are on time, you get to the office and although you are on time the doctor is not, you sit in a waiting room surrounded by other sick patients, you are called into an exam room where your vital signs are taken and you answer some questions, you wait for the physician. The physician comes in, spends all of 10 minutes with you and you leave on your way to the pharmacy to wait again.
If you think about the entire experience where is the value? It is noted with the exam of the physician and their decision on the condition they diagnose based on the exam and discussion. Two companies have taken this experience to a new level. What if we had a handheld machine that could capture the exam in a non-office setting, transmit the exam to a doctor along with a history to make the diagnosis.
Put in another way, what if your 3 yo woke up in the middle of the night with a fever? It is 10 below zero and the nearest hospital is 30 minutes away and has a 2 hour waiting time. Would you like to be able to capture an exam in real time, send the exam to a physician who makes the diagnosis and then sends the 24 hour pharmacy the needed prescriptions who then deliver the medication to the home within an hour?
Sound like Star Trek? Well it is a lot closer than that, it is actually here now. Two companies Tyto Care and Med Wand actually have devices that capture an exam for the doctor and send them to a physician for review and determination on the condition. These devices can capture 10 different medical diagnostic functions. This includes, heart sounds, lung sounds, throat view, ear view, skin exam, oxygenation, temperature, ekg and other exams.
Many think this will definitely be the way of the future. What does the doctor see when they looks in your ear? What is he actually hearing that raises concerns when they listen to your heart or lungs or even your stomach. With these 2 devices, images or recordings are captured for the physician to review. The doctor can request the patient to capture more information based on what they see or hear. They can save the photos or recordings to compare for resolution, improvement or worsening of a condition. Many feel the photo is much better than a doctors written description of what they saw.
Sound too good to be true?, go to Best Buy and Tyto Care device, the cost to the consumer is $299. What do you think the charge is for a normal ER visit? What is your time and convenience worth?
With heart disease being the leading cause of death in this country, with close to 800,000 deaths each year, there are very few of us who have not been touched by the death of a loved one from Heart disease. We see over 350,000 deaths each year in the US from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Many heart attacks occur when the heart, which is an efficient pump, stops working the way it should. In place of actually pumping the blood the pump muscle shakes or fibrillates, these are the cases of Sudden Cardiac Death, and it can occur at any time to individuals. When that occurs we have a small opportunity to shock it back to its normal rhythm so the heart again works as a pump.
In movies and TV shows it is the time when someone puts paddles on a chest and yells “Clear” informing everyone to stand back. At that time a jolt of electricity is sent to the heart to “shock” it back into a regular rhythm.
We have all seen recently the expansion of “AED’s” in the community, we see them in the airport, we see them on golf courses and park districts and in many public buildings. The stories of their use and success have been celebrated across the media, as the AED’s are designed to do all of the work and no medical knowledge is needed for them to be used properly, just follow the simple instructions that the machine talks you thru. The cost of a commercial AED that you see in the community is close to $2,000. At this price the ability to have one in the home is low, couple that with the chance you may need it and you can see why the home AED is not flying off the shelves.
At this year’s CES Heart Hero a small portable AED was highlighted. The beauty of its size as well as the ease of using it coupled with a price of $XXXX may make this turn the tide and get these valuable devices in the home.
Skiin Smart by Myant
We all have heard the term “wearables” and when we hear that we think of iWatch or fit bit, but the concept of wearables is really expanding. CES highlighted a technology Skiin Smart” from a company Myant. They showed clothes that will be able to track- Heart Rate, Respiratory Rate, Temperature, Movement, Sleep patterns and posture. Their goal is to provide a healthier lifestyle through clothing. They are also working on clothing technology that will monitor slips and falls as well as some cardiac rhythm changes.
The amount of data that we will be able to collect with something as simple as putting on a shirt is fascinating, the bigger question is will it make an impact on our health. Will we see individuals more aware of their health and turn to make healthy choices with the information?
Many of you know I am a big fan of daily weights. Now this is very controversial as many feel that this adds no value and can be detrimental for those fighting eating disorders. I am a proponent that obesity has a large impact on the overall health of this country and that we need to be aware of how weight can impact our health. We all also need to understand that unexplained weight loss is also a concern and can be an early sign of cancer in some cases
The reason I bring it up is a new company has an interesting scale. We all can picture the classic bathroom scale sitting in the corner of the bathroom with use of it being occasional for many people. The. New product made by a company Mateo is a bath mat that sits on the floor like any bath mat. This bath mat is able to capture your weight and posture, and for children it captures and monitors shoe size. The mat identifies you when you stand on it with your footprint. The weight is then sent to an app on your phone where you can review it or ignore it. This technology makes it easy to do and if you don’t want the information does not put it in your face. It does however allow you to track any trends and allow you to look at the app weekly or monthly and identify a trend.
We all have seen the TV commercial “I have fallen and can’t get up”. It is a simple communication device that would allow a senior to possibly report a fall. What if seniors had a wearable on their wrist that did much more than a simple communication tool to share a fall. Care Predict is a tool that is focused at the care for Seniors that provides a wide array of information. This tool is worn on the wrist and it is able to track an individual’s daily living activities. It is able to track eating, drinking, bathing, grooming, toileting, walking, sitting, sleeping and more. The Care Predict device monitors exactly where a senior is, down to the room where activities should be completed. It will let you know what activities a senior may or may have not done that day, which can give important health information and in some cases help make important decisions. Don’t be surprised to see more medical data be collected on the next iteration of this device as the technology is present to collect heart rhythm as well as glucose screening.
It also can be integrated into a door unlocking system for tracking arrival and departure from a setting, or concern for an elopement. It is also a 2 way audio communication tool between the caregiver and the patient.
Think of this with the senior who wants to continue to live independently but some caregivers, family or physicians have concerns about that individual. It allows for frequent accurate monitoring of activity and location.