As the world struggles to fight against a global pandemic, governments and the general population across the world are now realizing the need for better healthcare infrastructure. These times have proved that no country in the world is medically equipped to combat large-scale pandemic like COVID-19. As lockdown in various countries is being extended and intensified, we have to use the resources at our disposal very effectively to contain the virus and find innovative ways to provide medical assistance.
The Need for Remote Medical Care
There is no doubt that technology has played a major role in improving health infrastructure. Apart from improvements in hospital equipment, the advent of IoT a few years back, has made healthcare devices part of our lifestyle. It has made embedded medical devices more personal by placing devices into the hands of the users, which has made remote medical care available right at our fingertips.
Many hospitals have been embracing technology in order to care for their patients. However, we have not seen this technology adoption at scale. Remote diagnostics and remote patient monitoring have become the need of the hour. In the current situation, though healthcare professionals are trying their best to provide the required treatment, we have still seen a considerable amount of complaints on negligent treatment or care.
In such a time, there is a need for solutions that will allow doctors and nurses to efficiently manage their operations. Right now, some of the biggest challenges are identifying the infected, providing required treatment, and monitoring them. When there are thousands of cases being reported on a daily basis, it is not easy to provide equal care even when medical staff across the world are working overtime. This is where embedded medical devices with connected technology can play a crucial role in addressing these challenges.
So far, we have seen inventive embedded solutions like video conferencing, telemedicine/ tele diagnostics kiosks, personal health trackers and measuring devices, remote monitoring, data analytics, AI-enabled chatbots. Adopting them as part of the healthcare infrastructure may help in streamlining operations.
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How can Embedded Medical Devices be of greater help during COVID-19?
Embedded connected devices can be a substitute for in-hospital care up to an extent. The best part about connected medical devices is that you can conduct a health examination right from your home, which is actually the need of the hour. So let’s take a look at some points where the use of embedded medical devices can be crucial.
Identifying Symptoms: The most important part is identifying the symptoms and though there are various self-assessment applications, you still need to see a doctor to confirm whether you are infected or not. This is where connected devices can play a major role.
Let’s take an example of a self-assessment device developed by a company based in New York. It is a handheld self-examination device, which can help users to perform guided tests in the comfort of their homes. It has various attachments which includes stethoscope (to check lung function, stomach, heart rate), otoscope (for eardrum examination, infrared thermometer (for body temperature), high definition camera to capture rashes and bugs, tongue depressor (for checking tonsils), and a mobile interface where you can aggregate all of your test data and share it with your doctor. Such smart devices can assist the doctors in identifying infected patients.
Such solutions can lower down the rush of patients into a hospital but at the same time allow healthcare professionals to address their concerns. This will increase the probability of social distancing and help in reducing the chances of healthcare professionals being infected.
Remote Medical Care: This has been one of the biggest concerns that are yet to be addressed. However, there are some solutions that allow doctors to provide prescription over different modes of communication, or through web portals/applications based on the tests conducted by the patient. Embedded devices like pill dispensers can be provided to the patients and the intake of medication can be monitored. These simple BLE based devices can store medication up to a month with a calendar view to track the intake. If the patient skips their medication, it can be easily notified to the doctor.
Many start-ups are working on innovative solutions for health monitoring. CU-BX, a start-up from Israel had recently developed a health monitoring solution, which detects different physiological parameters, and acoustics using contact-free, clinically validated, patented sensing solutions. What makes it safer and unique is that it is completely contactless. It senses parameters such as blood pressure, respiratory rate and variations, heart rate/rhythm, cardiac acoustics. Such devices can add huge value along with the contactless thermometers. Such devices can help in daily monitoring from home and treatment can be optimized based on the results.
Each patient can be entrusted to a team of healthcare professionals that can monitor the condition of each patient. Again, this unloads the pressure from the doctor and they can focus on patients whose conditions are critical. This will streamline our facilities to an extent and the continuous overflow during this medical wartime.
Monitoring the Patients: Just providing remote care is not enough, there is always a need for post-treatment monitoring. This may not always be efficient due to the rising cases of infection. There is a need to streamline this activity in order to constantly ensure that no patients are relapsing.
There are biosensor devices like the patch developed by LifeSignals, a California based medical devices company, which sticks to your body and constantly monitors your vitals and informs medical staff in case of any changes via a platform. Such solutions are best for people with mild symptoms and people who have recovered and are still being monitored for relapse.
During COVID-19, it will be important to monitor the patients who have recovered. Connected medical devices can help in devising regular checks at home and the reports can be shared with the respective doctor, to receive appropriate advice post treatment.
This can be a game-changer when it comes to our healthcare system. Adding connected medical devices as part of the hospital infrastructure will allow patients to consult doctors, receive advice, and care from the comfort of their homes.
There is a need for us to look for a definite gameplan to counter such worldwide pandemic and that is why connected technology can make healthcare more efficient.
There is a need for more medical companies to come to the forefront, collaborate with product engineering companies, and conceive ideas that can become tangible solutions for the future. eInfochips is a product engineering company with 25 years of experience and has been the backbone for various innovative FDA class 2 and class 3 non-invasive devices. To know more about expertise, talk to our experts.