Digital technology is revolutionizing health care, and advances in medical surveillance are playing a major role. The market for mobile health (mHealth) solutions is exploding at an incredible compound annual growth rate of almost 40 percent per year and is on track to reach more than $62 billion by 2021, according to Mordor Intelligence.
This growing market includes connected medical wearables for measuring everything from blood pressure to ECG readings as well as apps for applications managing everything from weight loss to diabetes. These advances are enabling health care professionals to use remote medical surveillance to deliver better service to patients.
The widespread adoption of medical mobile apps and wearables is enabling health care providers to use surveillance to improve medical research and development. Mobile devices provide medical researchers with a wider pool of subjects than was previously available, and the devices enable users to be monitored as much as 24 hours a day. This dramatically expands the amount of data available to researchers. Cloud-based analytics tools enable this data to be processed and analyzed, giving researchers insights into correlations between data that would not have been previously possible.
One example of how this enormous potential is being put to use is Apple's ResearchKit. ResearchKit enables iPhone users to enroll as research subjects so their data can be pooled with that from other participants. Researchers can then tap into this data pool to gain medical insights and develop health care apps. Using this approach, ResearchKit has produced the largest study of Parkinsonâ€™s disease in history.
Mobile medical devices also are making it easy for health care providers to monitor patients remotely. This provides patients with better round-the-clock supervision and care, increases convenience, improves efficiency, lowers travel needs and cuts costs. For example, Tactio has developed a device for remote diabetes management. The TactioRPM uses a smartphone-style interface to combine support for remote blood glucose and A1C monitoring, weight loss tracking, physical activity tracking, nutrition and medication management, and patient education. Both providers and patients can see collected data, fostering better patient-physician cooperation.
Some of these mobile devices also can be paired with HD security camera systems to provide a more complete view of patient activity. These types of cameras provide enough clarity to see important details and even come with night vision capabilities, so monitors have around-the-clock access. This can be particularly useful for monitoring patients who are prone to falls or other emergencies where close visual supervision is needed.
Remote monitoring makes remote care delivery, also known as telehealth, possible. With this technology, health care providers can give instructions to patients over video chats, instruct remote teams on how to perform procedures or even control procedures through robots.
One of the most advanced applications in this area is remote surgery. Previously, surgical specialists have been in short supply due in part to travel time constraints. But now they can guide on-site surgical teams or robots from any location. For example, the Da Vinci surgical robot lets surgeons guide scalpels from a remote location by performing actions that the robot mimics. Researchers hope that such tools will soon enable surgeons to operate remotely on astronauts in space and soldiers in the field.