Patient evaluation and monitoring are big challenges caregivers are facing. The evaluation process today comes with endless forms to fill, outdated tools, and reliance on the human eye. When we visited a children healthcare center we couldn’t help but identify the clear need. One therapist was occupying the children, and another was calling each child separately for a two hour session (you read correctly, two hours for each kid! So time consuming). We learned that these evaluation sessions happened every 3 months. In these sessions, the therapist asks the child to do artificial tasks, like, bring your hand forward, bend, move, turn around and so on. I don’t need to tell you how (un)motivated children are in these situations.
Inefficient processes? Work for us! It was clear that we were going to be part of the IoT healthcare wave. So how does the technology blend in? Healthcare monitoring technologies are usually wearable devices. This is important when trying to get rid of artificial tasks, and track daily activities that we would do anyways with the sensors on us.
An important component in activity tracking is the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). The IMU uses a combination of accelerometers (detecting traction), gyroscopes (detecting angles) and magnetometers. From these sensors, we can receive important data, and know when and where an event has happened. The large scale data integration is provided by cloud computing. The data collected by sensors is sent to the cloud, where analytics can be viewed and evaluated. Ideally, this data can be accessed by the patient, his family and his health system (doctors, therapists, etc.).
The notion of tracking daily natural activities is revolutionary in healthcare. Think of a spoon that tracks movement for patients with motor disabilities as they eat, or a shoe that tracks injury improvements in the foot area, a pen, a toothbrush, a keyboard, and I can just keep on going.
It seems that the ability to connect to the cloud is bringing this field to the next level and transforming the way caregivers communicate with patients. The technology is already here and working, but not all questions have found an answer. Our challenge is to assure that the technology doesn’t get in the way of human relationships. The monitoring technology is not meant to replace the caregiver, it is meant to empower him. The caregiver can now evaluate more precisely, opening new discussion opportunities with the patient based on data.