IoT In mHealth: Current Trends

mHealth

Modern consumers are well aware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. They are willing to monitor their health and invest in it. The market of wearables and various mobile applications perfectly resonates with this global trend, and already offers a lot of good, although mostly single-point solutions for improving the quality of medical care and overall wellness.

The strategy of health continuum must be a foundation for the healthcare system in the digital age. People need an integrated care at all stages: adequate information for the healthy lifestyle choices and prevention of most common diseases, early detection of an illness and its well-timed treatment.

A state of health mostly depends on a person’s lifestyle, diet, physical activity and regular screenings. Due to the innovations in medicine and the efforts of physicians, the most diseases could be diagnosed at the early stages, when they are more amenable to treatment.

The advance in mHealth allows the society to approach the optimal realization of health continuum strategy in every person’s life.

Current mHealth includes two primary areas which are developing hand in hand, although at slightly different speeds. The first area includes technologies, devices, apps and services for patients treatment and care. The second area includes systems and devices designed for wellness and fitness observance.

Devices for fitness and wellness tracking:

  • Trackers of physical activity of all kinds (bracelets, smart clothes, headphones, glasses, etc.);
  • Smart watches;
  • Wearable sensors and pulse meters;
  • Apps for these devices and stand-alone apps for monitoring and managing of a physical state.

Devices that help to monitor the state of health and improve patient care

  • Monitoring systems for heart, blood pressure, glucose level, brain work, sleep quality, etc.;
  • Multiparameter monitoring systems;
  • Systems for remote interaction with the doctor;
  • Wearable, implantable and swallowable sensors for various vital signs monitoring;
  • Tools for express diagnostic and analysis (blood, saliva, urine, respiration, etc.);
  • Systems solutions for distant monitoring of elderly, chronically ill people and children;
  • Applications for health monitoring, drug use control, treatment planning, educational systems, etc.

mHealth can provide the progressive fusion of these two fields. Thanks to the IoT technologies, soon we will be able to talk not about health care or treatments, but about ensuring human health in all senses using mobile and other innovative technologies.

mHealth is not just about new technologies. It’s an entirely new way for doctors to interact with their patients. mHealth solutions allow patients to obtain medical assistance is a more comfortable way, and the doctors might reduce the workload from routine operations and free more time for more personal interactions with the patients.

Hospitals and clinics are constantly seeking to rethink models and patient care processes to improve patient care and safety. Distant access to information facilitates data acquisition and accelerates decision making. Patients will not have to visit doctors’ office each time they need a consultation. Doctors and nurses can communicate more efficiently and quickly.

What are the consumers interested in?

Every fourth US citizen has at least one connected device that collects, stores and analyses his or her health indicators. The most popular gadgets are those measuring speed of walking or running and heart rate.

If we look into the report published by IMS Institute in the previous year, into the part dedicated to mHealth mobile apps, we’ll see that USA-located users downloaded 220 million apps in 2016, and 1,25 billion were downloaded all over the world. Fitness is the most popular topic (36%), disease monitoring and treatment is the second most popular (24%), lifestyle and stress management took the 3rd place (17%), apps dedicated to dieting and healthy nutrition took the 4th (12%).

What are mHealth devices available on the market in the year 2017?

Sleep Improvement
Studies show that up to 79% of people suffer from sleep deprivation due to inappropriate lifestyle choices, snoring, constant noises, a surplus of blue light and other reasons.
Consumer IoT market responds to this need with different products. For example, Smart Bed created by Sleep Number automatically regulates temperature and body position. 2 Breathe, a combination of gadget and smartphone app helps to calm down with a chill, gradually slowing music.  

“FemTech”
IoT market tries to offer something that makes pregnancy experience more comfortable. There are currently solutions related to fertility, pregnancy, and children care. The following latest products could be mentioned as examples: Willow, a wearable breast pump; Boomlife contraction tracker; Ava Fertility Bracelet.

Home Robotics
Some human helpers, like Pepper and LYNX Robot, are not marketed as a healthcare devices, but clearly have some technical potential to take place in this niche. Anyway, if you’re a sci-fi admirer, your time has come.

Self-management
The latest IoT solutions in this fields include rehabilitation tools like RAPAEL Smart Glove, functional objects for elderly care (like Dring SmartCane), tools for indicating the condition of the cardiovascular system (like Quardio Wearable ECG monitor or Omron smart blood pressure monitor) and improving self-control for people with chronic diseases (like DIABNEXT).

Wearables
This market is moving from bracelet fitness trackers to more compact or vice versa, more complex solutions. Mio Slice, Motiv Ring Tracker, Bodytrak, VirZOOM are excellent examples.

Beauty
While some devices like HairMax LaserBand (designed to restore hair on a budget) seems to make sense, this category of IoT products is full of stuff like “smart toothbrushes” that does a disservice to consumer IoT market and attracts negative public attention along with wasting R&D budgets. Although, it’s a good reminder that connectivity itself does not provide value to consumers.

As we see now, the companies that offer innovative ways to interact with patients, drive adherence to clinical protocols and improve health outcomes still have a space for innovative demanded products.