Less common, but increasing in numbers are even higher functioning smart medical devices that can support actual treatment outside of the hospital / clinical environment. These are typically being used by patients with chronic diseases and are being developed by medical device manufacturers to manage the dosing and administering of drugs. These devices can digitally and physically support patients with specific drug treatments remote from clinical environments utilizing wearable devices that monitor activity and vital signs and dispense the drugs accordingly. All of this data can be tracked, stored and monitored by relevant healthcare professionals who can make any required adjustments to dosage remotely with digital or online consultation.
In terms of technological innovation, the miniaturization of such smart medical devices has been a key driver in keeping them discrete for the user. Similarly, improved user interfaces have also been vital ensuring they are intuitive and easy to use, particularly for older generations of patients.
These developments are having a significant effect on the nature of healthcare and points to a future of increased self-care with less disruptive clinical intervention while maintaining the required expert intervention when necessary. This can bring many advantages including driving down costs – which inevitably will be considerably lower at home than in a hospital. Beyond that, though, many people will prefer the autonomy of self-care, with expert oversight. The flexibility that this affords their lifestyle can be a liberating factor even considering the condition they are dealing with.
One other factor to consider is compliance. This, as always, is a path that needs to be navigated with care both by medical device manufacturers and insurance companies, the latter of which focuses on paying for positive outcomes rather than treatments. Therefore, the ability to take the right medicine, at the correct dosage and at the right time with smart devices outside of an expensive clinical environment is a positive development.
I am convinced that smart medical devices will continue to enable self-care of patients including monitoring and treatment of a wide range of conditions, including cancer, heart disease and degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Just as importantly I believe they will also make a significant contribution to awareness and the prevention of conditions reaching chronic levels by encouraging personal wellness as adoption increases. Personal lifestyle choices, as well as costs, will be significant factors in adoption rates.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. What other advancements have been made in remote health monitoring? Are there any unforeseen perils with this type of approach?