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What Do Patients Want From At-Home Medical Devices?

Armed with smartphones, tablets and an Internet connection, patients have a world of health information available at their fingertips. In addition, patients use magazines, television and other information sources to learn about health. Instead of passively accepting the advice of a physician, patients are actively participating in their own healthcare. In many cases, patients will work alongside their doctors to find new treatments.

While novel technologies have improved patients' access to information, technology has not yet provided patients with a way to treat themselves at home. However, this may change. With the advent of in-home medical products, patients will be able to access healthcare in a convenient, affordable way.

Part of Obama's Affordable Care Act places strict regulations on hospital readmission rates. If a hospital readmits too many patients who have already received treatment, the hospital can be penalized. Because of this, many hospitals and healthcare facilities are looking for ways to keep patients out of the hospital. Armed with assistive medical technology, patients can manage their own treatment and mitigate pain. In addition, patients will have access to relief at their convenience, regardless of location.

Some classes of patients face significant challenges when travelling. For example, it can be difficult for terminally-ill, bedridden, disabled and elderly patients to visit a physician on a regular basis. In addition, those recovering from surgical operations or other difficult treatments often appreciate being back in their own home.

In many cases, patient recovery times can be reduced by placing a patient in a familiar, welcoming environment. With the assistance of a physician, treatments can be personalized for at-home use, allowing patients more autonomy in their lives.

There are several key traits that at-home medical devices must have to be successful.

First, medical devices for at-home use must be safe. If used incorrectly, the risk of patient harm must be as low as possible. While nurses and physicians may pay careful attention to patients when providing treatments, patients themselves may not have the same attention to detail. In particular, elderly or disabled patients may have trouble following complex instructions. For an at-home medical device to be successful, a product should be designed to significantly reduce the risk of injury.

For at-home medical devices, convenience is a huge issue. If there is a significant learning curve or complex procedure for operation, patients may not follow recommended treatment advice. For example, compliance with post-surgical physical therapy has been found to be very low. For these devices to be a success, patients should face as little difficulty as possible when using them.

An intuitive design is also important. While the ideal patient may be willing to read an instruction manual, a patient in severe pain may not be able to comprehend complex instructions. Because of this, medical devices should be designed so that anyone of any intellectual background can use them. User-friendliness is critical.

Data transmission is also an important trait for at-home medical devices. Ideally, devices should be able to automatically transmit patient biometrics to a physician in a secure, simple way.

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