Cool Gadgets Extend Healthcare Resources



While it’s anticipated the proportion of healthcare workers to older adults will be problematic, promising new technologies can help

By 2030, the world population of people aged 60 and older will increase to 1.4 billion worldwide, a 56% increase over 2015. Yet the global healthcare workforce may face a shortfall by as much as 13 million by 2035.[1] Can technology help?

Technology in healthcare holds some potential. Telemedicine, electronic health records, specialized video teleconference consultations, and language interpreting services are already in use. Surgeons use imaging to create 3D models prior to surgery for study and collaboration. VR is used for training medical workers as well as to help stroke patients retrain and regain cognitive skills.

Sensors are transforming the healthcare industry with platforms housed in small wearable devices that monitor the heart and retain or transmit event information. HD Medical’s ViScope electronic stethoscope with integrated EKG provides rapid screening, improves telemedicine, and excels in training medical students because they can see what they audibly miss.

Figure 1: The electronic stethoscope with integrated EKG enables more accurate triage. (Image: HD Medical)

Technology has enabled the integration of multiple sensors into a single chip, allowing a small form factor with low power consumption and cost. Lower cost transforms medicine into accessibility. The MedWand™ is a combined heart-rate monitor, pulse oximeter, thermometer, digital stethoscope, EKG, retinal imaging ophthalmoscope, and a high-definition video camera otoscope. Doctors can remotely examine eyes, nose, ears, and throat, as well as listen to the heart, lungs, and abdomen with the MedWand in capable hands on the other side of the internet. Blood pressure and glucometer accessories are also possible with the Bluetooth® wireless interface on MedWand.

Figure 2: The patent-pending MedWand is an all-in-one set of fundamental vital sign examination tools that’s about the size of a computer mouse. (Image: MedWand Solutions)

Many consumers own smartphones. It’s not a great leap for most smartphone users to learn how to assist a doctor in examining loved ones or even themselves via telemedicine. Decisions can then be made to follow up in person or drive to a hospital. Rural areas might get by with a local nurse, a MedWand, and video conferencing tools for common ailments that a clinic might see. In some areas, a fully staffed clinic is not cost-effective enough to justify, yet people still need a level of healthcare to avoid compounding issues without diagnosis or treatment.

Technology is opening doors but will never replace much-needed medical staff. Nevertheless, technology can provide tools for extending the reach of healthcare worldwide.

[1] IHS Markit, April 2018

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