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Monday - May 23, 2022

Sensors Support Smart Health Monitoring at Home

Two trends have begun to emerge in the healthcare industry – personalized, digital care and aging in place – that are supported by advanced health sensors and AI. Personalized medicine seems to have stemmed from the growth in fitness and wellness technology. Digital fitness trackers can monitor steps, heart rate, sleep quality and more so that users can analyze and improve their health where needed. Medical device manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon to offer more sophisticated equipment that can help monitor chronic conditions and report real-time results to both doctors and patients. Prevention is key to lowering medical costs, prolonging lifetimes and improving patient care.

Age in place technology is another expanding market as seniors prefer to remain in their own homes rather than transferring to assisted living facilities. Privacy, convenience and comfort are all contributing factors however, how can caregivers be sure their loved ones are safe? The main medical concerns for seniors living alone are falls, medication adherence and companionship. By developing monitoring systems geared towards elderly users, it is possible to address all these potential issues in advance.

Detecting Falls with Health Sensors

There are a few different technologies that providers can use to detect falls – a wireless, wearable device equipped with sensors or a non-contact device with imaging capabilities. Wearable devices typically include accelerometers and gyroscopes to accurately detect a fall event. Wall or ceiling mounted equipment may use cameras, infrared imaging and 3D radar to identify falls. Both methods require sophisticated algorithms to analyze the sensor data and accurately recognize fall events. Ultimately, technology providers would eventually like to prevent falls from happening in the first place.

How to Improve Medication Adherence with Technology

When patients don’t take medication as prescribed, it can lead to increased costs, health complications or hospitalization. New devices are helping users remain in compliance by precisely dispensing daily medications, reminding patients with alerts and notifying caregivers of missed dosages. Most equipment can hold multiple medications and dispenses each pill precisely using small motors and sensors.

Non-invasive Vital Sign Monitoring

Continuous vital sign monitoring is typically only performed in post-surgical or ICU settings however, extending these practices to LTC or even remote health monitoring can be highly advantageous. These industries are facing critical staffing shortages that can be alleviated by implementing automated continuous monitoring technology that can be integrated into the patient’s bed. Highly sensitive pressure sensors are capable of detecting heart rate, breathing rate, weight, position and movement of the patient. Predictive algorithms are applied to determine if the readings are normal and will alert caregivers when something is wrong. All of this can be accomplished with a device that never comes in contact with the patient.

Design Considerations for Remote Monitoring Devices

As with anything, smart health technology can only provide benefits to patients that actively use the devices so, systems need to be easy to use and inobtrusive. Elderly users are more likely to adopt new technology when it has a minimal effect on their day-to-day activities. For seniors and individuals with chronic conditions, sensors combined with automated health monitoring can help patients remain in their home without compromising the level of care.

Kelvin Nelder
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