15 March 2017
Understanding behaviors, detecting weak signals, offering new services is the promise of analysis of data sets gathered from the Internet of things in many industries. The healthcare industry has not been left behind and has been harnessing the great potential of these technologies for many years (pacemakers, brain implants, etc.). Today, the trend leans more towards preventive medicine and the development of medical follow-up in a broader way.
In a changing world, increasing life expectancy means that people stay at home longer. If the goal of connected objects (IoT, for Internet of Things) is not that of replacing human presence, which is indispensable to a harmonious social life, they represent a new means of effective medical monitoring for millions of seniors around the world, including 15 million people over the age of 60 in France. This year, 8.3 billion objects connected to the Internet were produced against 6.3 billion in 2016 (source : cabinet Gartner).
Follow-up at home and medical assistance: connected seniors
In Las Vegas, at CES 2017, connected objects with health applications were showcased and honored: an anti-nausea wristband or a contraction sensor for pregnant women, a detector of concussions to prevent consequences of repeated shocks to the head or rate measurement of glucose for diabetic people without needles. It is estimated that in 2020, there will be 50 to 80 billion connected objects in circulation around the world. Although the feedback from experimentation is very positive and demonstrates the potential of IoT, we still have to develop applications and to validate their medical relevance in patient follow-ups.
This applies to the "Smartcane" project. Equipped with motion sensors, this intelligent cane records the user's lifestyle (wake-up time, outputs, etc.) and alerts the user’s loved ones via a smartphone application, in case the user has not walked for a while or in case he or she falls. In similar fashion, a connected switch will warn the users loved ones if no electricity has been used. Also, Sensifall is a floor coating wrapped with sensors that can detect a fall and warn relatives. How can you be sure that you do not forget to take your medication? By using a connected pillbox that sends an alert in case of forgetfulness, synonymous with safety for the patient.
Data analysis and predictive medicine
Another challenge for connected objects: to process and analyze produced data. The objective is to change medicine’s curative approach in favor of a more preventive approach, in particular to accompany the aging of populations and to respond to the growth of chronic diseases. This applies to the issue of hypertension, which affects a quarter of the world's population. With a connected sphygmomanometer, a patient identified as being at risk during a consultation can self-measure for a week at home and transmit the data to his doctor so that a more reliable diagnosis can be made. In the labs of the big technology companies, research is also done on contact lenses that measure the glucose level in tears and transmits the results on an application to prevent the risk of discomfort. Another project in development: a watch that analyzes the sound emitted by the blood of the heart to identify the first signs of a myocardial infarction and to communicate the results to a doctor.
E-health throughout the world: a tremendous way to leverage access to healthcare in emerging countries
In emerging countries, eHealth offers better access to the healthcare and, in fact, profoundly transforms humanitarian action
In African countries, telemedicine is used to compensate for the lack of specialists, the shortage of equipment and infrastructure, and the challenge of reaching a still predominantly rural population. For example, in Mali, a teledermatology service has been set up. It allows general practitioners to send their observations to specialists in Bamako, the capital. The latter receive photos and can give a diagnosis to the patient without the patient having to move. In Botswana, Orange HealthCare has developed a mobile application that enables to quickly escalate malaria cases from regional centers to ministry level. Appraisal: Government response time increased from 4 weeks to 3 minutes in the event of an epidemic.According to a study by the Future Health Index, in general emerging countries are moving towards a healthcare system based on connected health systems and systems.
To measure the rate of progress or commitment of these countries, the study is based on three factors indicating the development of a more integrated healthcare system: access to care, a health system and the adoption of health technologies.
According to the WHO, e-health would make it possible to provide treatment universally without being hampered by costs, and the lack of access to healthcare. Connected objects would thus contribute to the emergence of a new universal.