Digital health takes center stage at the annual Las Vegas tech fair, as the pandemic has exploded the use of remote medical services.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, which begins on Monday, a whole host of tools to facilitate online or telephone consultations are presented, along with all kinds of new biomedical sensors and devices that allow patients to avoid sometimes crowded waiting rooms.
The demand for telemedicine services is expected to increase by 64% in the United States according to researchers at the firm Frost & Sullivan, correspondingly increasing the need for convenient and effective communication platforms and medical devices in the home.
“We have learned that spending time in waiting rooms with other sick patients can be problematic and people are looking for other ways to seek treatment,” notes Samir Qamar, general practitioner and creator of MedWand, a tool allowing the patient to take his own blood pressure, temperature, blood pressure, etc., and to transmit the results directly via the computer. It should be launched within the year.
The pandemic has shown technology shortcomings, such as the fact that some patients simply do not have access to the internet, underlines Mr Qamar, who is due to speak at CES.
“One of the big problems is the difficulty of examining patients from a distance,” he also told AFP.
Many companies have entered the niche to develop tools that can be used in the home, such as stethoscopes, otoscopes for examining the ears, blood pressure monitors and oximeters. But they have yet to demonstrate that they are highly precise in gaining regulatory approval, Qamar notes.
Other devices on display at CES include tools to monitor the health of elderly people living alone at home or wearable devices, such as a bracelet, to detect the first signs of illness.
– At work –
Work life is not left out with smart thermometers, air purifiers or disinfectant robots.
“Crazy devices like personal air purifiers, which would have been looked down on last year, are going to be observed with much more interest this year,” said Richard Windsor, a technology analyst who holds the Radio Free Mobile blog.
Another essential element for remote medical care: the monitoring of health data and the use of analysis tools to better understand the risks, whether it is Covid-19 or other diseases, notes Bettina Experton, CEO of digital health platform Humetrix, longtime CES exhibitor.
If more patients turn to telemedicine, “the doctor may never have seen the patient before,” she stresses. “It is therefore essential to have access to your medical file.”
His company has developed various mobile applications to share patient data with a single click.
The platform, accessible to individuals and insurers, also uses artificial intelligence to help assess the risks of patients, those affected by the coronavirus for example.
Axion Research, a Tokyo-based company, will in the same vein present at CES a system to detect the early signs of certain diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s thanks to an artificial intelligence system “mapping” the state of health of patients.
Another trend: the use of tools initially more intended for the maintenance of the form for the medical field, notes Robin Murdoch of the firm Accenture, which follows the show.
“We now have smartwatches and other devices that monitor your pulse, blood oxygen levels and other measurements, and provide loads of data” that can be used by doctors, he points out.