How Tech is Driving the Next Generation of Health Care

Medical devices, 24/7 monitoring, remote surgery and smartphone apps are just a glimpse of the bright future of health care, thanks to recent advancements in technology.

The health care industry has always been at the forefront of new scientific discoveries. In recent years, however, the increasing integration of cutting-edge technology has helped spur exponential advancements that are completely transforming patient diagnoses, treatments and outcomes.

Wearable medical devices now incorporate real-time, two-way communication between health care providers and patients, setting a new standard for capturing, storing and analyzing crucial data. The streamlined information flow helps reduce errors and drive down costs, while providing patients 24/7 access to their data on their smartphones. Physicians can now perform surgery from several hundred miles away. Even the clinical trial process is leveraging technology, deploying a user-friendly platform where participants can qualify, provide consent and enroll in relevant studies.

Medical devices on the rise
The global medical device market is expected to reach an estimated $343 billion by 2021, playing a significant role in the next generation of health care. “Medtech’s role in health care is changing in concert with an explosion of technological discovery, downward pressure on health care spending and a sharpened focus on value,” according to a report from PwC.

“Medical device and diagnostic companies are … reaching across the ecosystem to offer services that engage patients in real-time, improve physician performance and demonstrate value beyond any one device, diagnostic or technology,” the report concludes.

Tackling America’s medical issues
Medical devices are also addressing a crucial risk factor in managing chronic disease — non-compliance. As an example, more than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes that can often be managed by regular blood glucose monitoring. However, the time-intensive process, including regular fingerstick testing day and night, can be a deterrent.

A new system of monitoring blood glucose levels relies on a small wearable sensor that monitors glucose levels every five minutes. Real-time data is captured, available to patients on their smartphones and automatically shared with the health care provider. Also in the works? A “smart insulin patch” that replaces painful insulin injections.

Another potential breakthrough in blood glucose monitoring is a smart contact lens, which contains embedded electronics that flicker when levels read too high.

Heart disease, the number one case of death in America, is also being tackled by medical device companies. A wearable cardioverter defibrillator can be worn by patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, allowing their physician an opportunity to assess their long-term arrhythmic risk and make appropriate plans.

Remote surgical participation
Other advances are helping physicians share their expertise remotely. Imagine a patient with a cardiac emergency taken to a local hospital that doesn’t see a lot of cardiology cases. There’s no time for a Medevac to a larger hospital. Now, the remote physician can view a virtual screen of the treatment in real-time and advise the on-site physician.

Variations of the process include a medic at a M.A.S.H. unit workstation that can communicate with a robot-assisted operating room at the battlefront.

Streamlining clinical trials
Helping to reduce delays in recruiting and retaining eligible patients for clinical trials is also benefitting from the use of tech. Now processes that were previously conducted through a laborious manual process are being done online — patients can now digitally qualify, provide consent and enroll in a clinical trial.

Participants are given regular reminders for appointments and treatments, helping to reduce attrition that can cause costly delays in progress. Smart phone retention check-ins create discipline and follow through taking medications in a timely manner. The clinical trial sponsor also gets real-time reporting on participant activity, in order to quickly identify and re-engage patients who have missed appointments.

Dealing with data
All of these advancements contribute to the exponential growth of clinical data, with a concurrent need for safe storage structured to enable analytics. This has led to the rise of Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems that capture and manage data, ensuring maintenance of the data’s integrity and usability, as well as compliance with U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

Clinical providers are increasingly migrating from legacy systems to all-inclusive Clinical Data Management Systems (CDMS) that are flexible, scalable and accessible through hand-held devices.

This is just a small sampling of the sophisticated products and processes combining to drive health care innovation and provide better, safer outcomes for patients. If you’d like to learn more about how EASi Sciences partners with companies to help them succeed, contact us now.