How Printed Electronics Enable the Efficiency of Remote Healthcare

Printed electronics such as the technology used in the smart health patch are enabling remote patient monitoring (RPM). One of the biggest benefits to RPM is cost savings and it is projected to save $200 billion dollars over the next 25 years. (1) Reduced unnecessary visits, optimized time with patients, and improved communication all are benefits stemming from remote patient monitoring. Through innovation, printed electronics have brought us to this point. 

Let’s expand on the benefits of remote patient monitoring. Limited visits mean doctors can eliminate appointments that are done primarily to collect health data. Doctors can optimize their time with patients because the data will be available prior to the visits. As well, remote patient monitoring provides the doctor with a long term view on health data as compared to limited views during selective patient visits. Communication is improved by utilizing video calls and mobile apps that help doctors provide efficient and effective treatment. All these benefits result in cost savings that continue to increase. (1)

Medical and consumer wearables also provide a unique opportunity when paired with cloud-based communication, that connects patients to doctors and necessary healthcare workers.  This allows for doctors to be notified right away if a user has an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure. A remote diagnosis like this can allow for immediate action and help to be dispatched to a person in distress. These medical devices require superior reliability in order for medical professionals and patients to trust these devices to accurately monitor and diagnose. (2)With a broad portfolio of silver, carbon, dielectric and clear conductive inks, Henkel is making today’s medical solutions reliable and effective.

 

Printed LOCTITE® conductive silver ink

Printed Electronics and how they work

Printed electronics are flexible and thin electronic components which are made during the process of printing specialized, functional ink formulations onto a substrate. A variety of different ink-formulations and substrates are available for printed electronics applications. The advantages of printed electronics include function, form and flexibility. As well, they are lightweight which contributes to patient comfort. Printed electronics also allow for high volume, high-throughput, cost-effective manufacturing. 

Printed electronic solutions can be created with diverse printing methods, such as screen printing as well as flexo- and gravure printing. The selection of a printing method depends upon multiple aspects such as the type and number of applications that are produced, the desired properties of the functional material and final application, the production capabilities of a plant, as well as the time-scope of production. Henkel’s Printed Electronics team offers expertise for correct and successful material selection, processing and curing; as well as access to a partner ecosystem to enable high volume manufacturing and prototyping.

Innovative Smart Health Patch

Together with six other medical and technology companies Henkel has collaborated and used our materials to release an innovative smart health patch which leveraged Henkel printed electronics. This device, the result of a collaboration between Byteflies, Melexis, Quad Industries, Televic, Z-Plus, Nitto and Henkel, was initially set up to monitor patients suffering from heart failure and epilepsy. At the start of the pandemic, it quickly was seen how valuable this device would be for monitoring COVID-19 patients.  Prior to the use of a device like this healthcare workers had to manually check a patient’s vitals and input the data into their system. This smart health patch will save healthcare workers’ time by automatically taking vitals and sending them to the cloud, and it also limits their exposure to the virus.

 

 

Henkel conductive and dielectric inks are used in this innovative smart health patch.

The patch is 18.3 cm long and has been developed to be skin-friendly for medical use and contains high tech electrodes and various conductive inks to register vital signs. In the center of the patch there is a “sensor dot”, that also collects vital signs and automatically sends the data to the cloud.  A miniature temperature sensor will also be integrated. The “cloud” can then be accessed through a user friendly interface, which greatly improves the patient follow up times.

Countless devices today rely on printed electronic technologies for function, form, flexibility and increasing patient comfort. The growth of digital healthcare, and smart mobility enables us to enter an era of increased connectivity and real-time transmission, resulting in a growing demand for printed electronic solutions.

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