At the biggest consumer technology tradeshow of the year, there were several trends medical device makers should pay attention to.
The International CES tradeshow is the consumer electronics industry’s chance to strut its stuff. The annual event, held in Las Vegas, draws tens of thousands of attendees hoping to get hands-on with the newest video games, home entertainment systems, health and wellness devices, and other technologies.
While very few of the devices showcased at the event are regulated medical devices, the medtech industry nonetheless can benefit from studying some of the trends that emerge at the show. Here are four themes that came to the fore this year.
Wearables are Great, but IoT is Better
While the debate over whether wearable health devices can live up to their promise rages on, several companies are abandoning this format all together. Instead of building technology into a wristband, patch, or other body-worn design, many companies are shifting to objects in the user’s environment.
At CES 2016, examples of the Internet of Things in the health and wellness space included a connected insulin pen, a smart water bottle, and a bed that can track breathing and heart rates.
The Digital Baby Boom
Tech-savvy Millennials are all grown up and even starting to have children of their own. As the first generation of digital natives embarks on parenthood, they are turning to technology to help them navigate.
Device makers are taking notice and offering up solutions that can help parents track their offspring from conception to cradle and beyond. A Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test from First Response sends results to users’ smartphone and comes with a mobile app to provide pregnancy support. Baby monitors now send information about little ones’ movement and breathing right to moms’ and dads’ smartphones. Hatch Baby’s WiFi-connected Smart Changing Pad tracks a child’s weight and sends it to the cloud.
It all lead Philips senior vice president and digital technology leader Liat Ben-Zur to wonder in one conference session whether babies will soon produce more data than dirty diapers.
Telehealth is Taking Off
With states and CMS making concessions for telehealth providers in recent years, remote care is starting to become a reality. By 2018, 7 million patients are expected to take advantage of telehealth services, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis.
At CES I saw remote monitoring tools that help patients capture their own health data and send it to physicians remotely. MedWand Solutions Inc. is developing a handheld device equipped with an infrared in-ear thermometer, pulse oximeter, and hi-res video camera to connect patients with providers from a distance.
Other companies are focusing on the telehealth software. Mahmee, a platform that provides postpartum support to women, offers round the clock messaging capability with nurses, video consults with experts, and virtual support groups users can access at home.
Apps are Essential
The idea that there’s an app for everything is clichÃ© at this point. But for the medtech industry, which is notoriously slow to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to tech trends, it bears mentioning that there was scarcely a product at CES that didn’t have an associated mobile application.
From ReSound’s iPhone controlled hearing aids to Philips’s smart toothbrush paired with an educational companion app for kids, devices of all kinds are find one way or another to tie back to users’ ever-present smartphones.
|Learn about more medical device trends at the MD&M West conference and expo, February 9-11, 2016, in Anaheim, CA.|
Jamie Hartford is MD+DI's editor-in-chief. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @MedTechJamie.
[image courtesy of CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION]