Technology analysts Dr Nadia Tsao and Dr Ivan De Backer explored the technology developments and market trends presented at Healthcare Sensor Innovations (HSI) 2019.
IDTechEx, a market intelligence and events company, organised the conference and table-top exhibition. The event held in Cambridge from 25-26 September 2019 attracted over 185 delegates from over 23 countries, as well as 40 speakers from the healthcare, electronics, and materials industries. These speakers shared their progress in wearables and sensors for continuous monitoring and point-of-care diagnostics.
Dr Nadia Tsao and Dr Ivan De Backer explore the technology and trends featured at the show.
Printed electronics are opening new doors for sensor devices
Printed electronics, were a focal point of Healthcare Sensor Innovations 2019 as a result of the benefits of their integration into healthcare devices. Electronics can be printed on a variety of materials and surfaces meaning strong and hard-wearing medical device components can be created. This means electronic capability can be added to places where it was not previously possible, enabling the development of new forms of medical sensors. These sensors can now be flexible, stretchable, transparent and foldable, making them incredibly useful.
Wearable sensors bring increased sensitivity to patient tracking…
The biggest potential for wearable technology is in the medical industry. IDTechEx predicts that the market for medical wearables will grow faster than the overall wearable technology market over the next five years. There are a range of uses for wearables in healthcare, including consumer health, monitoring, and diagnostics. Wearables also allow for remote patient monitoring (RPM). In addition to providing more sensitive methods for tracking patients and disease progression, RPM allows patients to stay at home for longer and thus increase their comfort levels, whilst also helping reduce burdens on the healthcare system.
…but the value of data must be understood first
Healthcare Sensor Innovations 2019 keynote speakers stressed the importance of not only developing new healthcare sensors, but also creating new ways to analyse the data being collected. The data measured must also be verified before the technology is released on a mass scale. Finally, care must be taken so that the data does not result in incorrect diagnostics and treatments.
Patient comfort and willingness are key to success
The need for sensors in wearables to be stretchable was collectively acknowledged among the speakers and exhibitors at Healthcare Sensor Innovations 2019. Patient comfort needs to be prioritized and therefore the sensor systems must be discreet. Wearable sensors should be flexible and thin, particularly in the case of electronic skin patches and smart clothing. The devices must also be easy to use and familiar to the patient to ensure that the data collected is accurate.
Sensors play key role in helping patients with chronic diseases
Innovations in wearables and sensors would be particularly useful to patients suffering from chronic diseases. Throughout HSI 2019, speakers discussed their work in bringing sensors to better measure symptoms in patients and help both predict and prevent acute episodes. Prevention is particularly important in diseases areas where the disease progression relies on the patient’s perception, rather than an objective measurement’ like rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, conditions like asthma and irritable bowel syndrome where different situations will cause different outcomes for different patients, sensors can help patients to identify these triggers and prevent future episodes.
The next Healthcare Sensor Innovations conference will be held 16-19 March 2020 in San Jose, CA, USA.