Patient monitoring is evolving with artificial intelligence, sensors, smart technology, more

By Mike Miliard
03:11 PM
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From brain-computer interfaces to nanorobotics, a new report from Frost & Sullivan explores leading edge developments and disruptive tech.

A new study from Frost & Sullivan takes stock of some of the rapid-fire developments in the world of patient monitoring, which is expanding its capabilities by leaps and bounds with the maturation of sensors, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

WHY IT MATTERS
"Patient monitoring has evolved from ad hoc to continuous monitoring of multiple parameters, causing a surge in the amount of unprocessed and unorganized data available to clinicians for decision-making," according to F&S researchers. "To extract actionable information from this data, healthcare providers are turning to big data analytics and other analysis solutions.

The ability of such analytics to both assess patients in the moment and point toward their potential future condition had health systems investing more than $566 million in the technology during 2018, the report notes.

But data-crunching is only the beginning of what hospitals and healthcare providers will need to be prepared to manage in the years ahead if they hope to take full advantage of fast-evolving patient monitoring technology.

Wearables and embedded biosensors – such as continuous glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters and ECG monitors – are an obvious place to start, as health systems look to manage chronic conditions and population health, both in and out of the hospital.

But there's many more advances already starting to gain traction, such as smart prosthetics and smart implants. "These are crucial for patient management post-surgery or rehabilitation," researchers said, as "they help in measuring the key parameters to support monitoring and early intervention to avoid readmission or complexities."

Another innovation that's set for big growth is digital pills and nanorobots, which can help monitor medication adherence. In addition, advanced materials and smart fabrics are opening new frontiers in wound management and cardiac monitoring, the report notes. And brain-computer interfaces can enable direct monitoring and measurement of key health metrics to assess patients' psychological, emotional and cognitive state.

THE LARGER TREND
In a recent interview with Healthcare IT News, digital health pioneer Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of Scripps Research Translational Institute, was asked which developments in AI and mobile technology he thought would be be most transformative in the year ahead.

"Longer term, the biggest thing of all is remote monitoring and getting rid of hospital rooms," said Topol. "And there, the opportunity is extraordinary. Because obviously the main cost in healthcare is personnel. And if you don't have hospital rooms, you have a whole lot less personnel. So setting up surveillance centers with remote monitoring – which can be exquisite and very inexpensive with the right algorithms, when it's validated – would be the biggest single way to improve things for patients, because they're in the comfort of their own home"

The value of patient monitoring is recognized at the federal level too. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has called for expansion of reimbursement for remote care, with CMS seeking to "make sure home health agencies can leverage innovation to provide state-of-the-art care," she said.

ON THE RECORD
"In the future, patient monitoring data will be combined with concurrent streams from numerous other sensors, as almost every life function will be monitored and its data captured and stored," said said Sowmya Rajagopalan, global director of Frost & Sullivan's Advanced Medical Technologies division. "The data explosion can be harnessed and employed through technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, etc., to deliver targeted, outcome-based therapies."

Rajagopalan added that, "as mHealth rapidly gains traction, wearables, telehealth, social media and patient engagement are expected to find adoption among more than half of the population in developed economies by 2025. The patient monitoring market is expected to be worth more than $350 billion by 2025, as the focus is likely to move beyond device sales to solutions."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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