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10 High-Tech Medical Devices Advancing Healthcare and Wellness

Baby Boomer Market

There were 25% more health-related exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show this year versus last year. One reason is the aging population—74 million Baby Boomers—a lucrative market that needs healthcare to live comfortably and independently.

Healthcare and technology often go hand-in-hand. And the fast evolution of technology is great news for the healthcare industry. At this year’s popular Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2019, innovative heath technology continued to grab peoples’ attention.

Consumers and physicians stand to benefit from the vast array of new products that help people stay healthy and fit or send alerts when there’s a problem. Technology that was once the domain of large physician offices or ambulatory surgery centers is now available to the rest of us and to small clinics that lack budgets for large, expensive machines. Better still, the technology is becoming more affordable (although that doesn’t mean cheap) and easier to use. It also shares data with healthcare providers. Here are 10 high-tech health and wellness technology devices featured at CES 2019:

1. Smarter hearing aids. ReSound LiNX Quattro is the first smart hearing aid to use artificial intelligence (AI) in conjunction with Apple Inc.’s Siri assistant. This lets you use voice commands to stream iTunes through the hearing aids, turn the volume up or down and more. AI learns your preferences and settings over time, and proactively adjusts various sound profiles.

The hearing aids let people with hearing impairments take advantage of the digital world. In addition to hearing better, wearers can stream phone calls, music and TV from Apple mobile devices or other audio sources. Powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the hearing aids deliver up to 30 hours of life per charge. The cost is about $2,350 a piece.

2. Robot healthcare assistants. Robots that monitor your health may become more commonplace across the healthcare industry. Samsung is one company offering these robots. Its Bot Care can check your health simply by having you place your finger on a sensor. It reads your vitals and tells you if your blood pressure and heart rate, for example, are within normal ranges.

The bot has a screen for a face that displays “emotions” in addition to your health information. It acts on voice commands and responds with its own voice. The interactive robot can also offer exercise guidance, track medications you’re taking, monitor your sleep, send health data to a third party like a doctor and call emergency services, if needed.

GPO Contracts for High-Tech

Looking to buy high-tech equipment or devices for your facility? Talk to your group purchasing organization (GPO) first. GPOs have established relationships with leading suppliers, manufacturers and service providers to get you the best technologies at the best price.

3. App your own eye prescription. You can now skip the eye doctor appointment when you want prescription glasses. EyeQue VisionCheck, a Bluetooth-powered portable device, is the first automated at-home eye test. The $60 device combines a cloud-based platform, a smartphone app and a motorized optical scope to gather corrective vision measurements whenever and wherever you want. Data is sent to your phone.

You can use the results to order eyeglasses from online retailers. This lets you check your vision and order glasses without leaving your home, and stores the results for future use.

4. Cure insomnia without medication. Lying in bed awake at night is frustrating. According to the American Sleep Association, sleep disorders effect one in three people at some point in their lives. PulseWear’s DreamOn wearable looks like a watch and uses low-frequency pulses to activate the body’s natural sleep process to help people with insomnia fall asleep.

PulseWear says DreamOn, which costs $130, helps you fall asleep faster and sleep better. A companion app offers sleep-specific meditations, breathing exercises and a five-day sleep program to enhance your sleep quality.

5. Handheld ultrasound. Clinics used to have to spend a lot of money for ultrasound machines. Not anymore. A personal ultrasound is now available for just under $2,000, putting it within reach of more physician offices. The Butterfly iQ handheld ultrasound can scan your entire body. It’s the first time a pocket-sized ultrasound has been available to provide images of internal organs, muscles, tendons and blood vessels inside the heart. It’s been cleared by the FDA for diagnostic imaging across 13 clinical applications, including fetal, cardiac and pediatric.

A HIPAA-complaint platform offers unlimited storage, live commenting and sharing for real-time collaboration. Butterfly’s “Ultrasound-on-a-Chip” technology uses an inexpensive single silicon chip that generates frequencies needed for any depth.

GPOs Looking Out for Members

Group purchasing organizations stay current on technologies that can benefit their members. For example, Provista contracting partner Vizient® hosts an annual Innovative Technology Exchange. It lets suppliers showcase their innovative medical products or technology to about 2,000 clinicians and healthcare industry leaders.

6. Interpret body language to identify distress. Kepler Vision Technologies, a spin-off company from the University of Amsterdam, has developed body language recognition software. It analyzes videos using computer vision and machine learning to understand and interpret the body language of the people in those videos. It can be used to monitor activities in senior care facilities.

The software can tell if someone is angry, happy, distressed or showing other emotions. A sudden change can signal a problem, like someone has fallen down stairs or needs medical attention. The software should be available in the spring of 2019.

7. Smart belt monitors your health. Smart clothing isn’t new, but it’s becoming more popular and available in a wider variety of items, including belts. WELT’s smart belt, which costs $150, communicates with a smartphone to share information about your current waist size, steps, meals and more.

It looks just like a traditional belt. The difference is the technology that helps you stay active by tracking steps and the time you spend sitting, monitoring your eating habits and providing ongoing health analysis.

8. Voice-activated pill dispenser. Pillo provides therapy reminders and health information so you can take your pills as prescribed. Medication is stored in a patented pill-wheel, split into doses and dispensed into a special cup. Pillo records when you take your pills or miss a dose. An app reminds you when it’s time to take your medicine. Facial recognition software guards against someone else taking your prescription drugs.

Data is stored in a secure, HIPAA-complaint platform that can be shared with your doctor. Pillo stores up to 28 days’ worth of medications in a tamper-proof casing. It can also provide information such as the weather forecast and calories in food. It costs $500 to buy, plus $40 a month for the service.

9. Predict heart attacks. People with chronic heart failure can buy a shirt that helps predict a heart attack. Chronolife offers a smart shirt with integrated sensors and an embedded app to monitor those suffering from heart failure. It offers data on electrocardiogram readings, skin temperature, respiratory distress and more. 

The sleeveless shirt, which is machine washable, analyzes data in real time to alert the wearer if there’s risk of an upcoming attack. Doctors can access the data through a cloud service. The vest is expected to go on sale later this year at a price of $230.

10. Robot companion for seniors. The robot ElliQ is designed to be a companion for seniors who live alone. The desktop robot is friendly, interactive and responds to voice commands while monitoring a person’s conditions. It offers advice and answers questions. The company calls it “a dedicated sidekick.”

The $1,500 robot can also make appointments and remind you to take your medications. By using AI, ElliQ learns your preferences and offers help based on that information.

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