Mobile medical devices help patients manage their health
Driven by a combination of population growth and unhealthy lifestyles, governments in developed countries are increasingly facing rising healthcare costs. Not only is the inefficiency of the healthcare system reflected in its cost structure, but also in the fact that one out of every 20 Google searches is a request for medical information.1
Clearly, patients are seeking more convenient alternatives to the traditional visit to the doctor’s office, which in addition to the actual consultation, typically involves long waiting times. The mobile health and wearable devices segment attempts to address precisely these cost and time inefficiencies, while also empowering patients to take greater control over the monitoring and management of their health conditions. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Roche have recently made great strides in simplifying diabetes patients’ lives with their mobile / continuous glucose monitoring devices. The next generation of diabetes treatment devices currently in development is the ‘bionic pancreas.’ Based on the glucose monitoring data it collects, the bionic pancreas can automatically calculate the correct time and dosage for an insulin injection and administer it, keeping the patient’s glucose level constant. Leading companies in this area include the US medical technology companies Medtronic and Insulet.
Other applications for mobile health devices include the cardiology segment. An irregular heart rhythm can be a symptom of a potential heart attack.2 At-risk patients can use a monitoring device that alerts them, via mobile phone, for example, that their heartbeat is abnormal and that they should consult a doctor before the problem escalates into a more serious medical condition.
However, the greatest challenge for the sector will be ensuring that medical data is handled responsibly to protect patients' privacy, which will require the establishment of a code of ethics and tough laws safeguarding data security. Nevertheless, the most innovative companies that are able to develop effective ways of acquiring medical data, offer patient convenience, and ensure data privacy will be the most likely to succeed in the long run. Whether the companies develop medical sensors that rest on the skin’s surface or more complex implants, the next stage of innovation in the area of mobile health offers more efficient ways to manage chronic health conditions, reducing costs and contributing to the overall efficiency of healthcare system.