February 16, 2010
Digital technology has made a huge impact on the performance of medical technologies but, as yet, this impact has been confined to the traditional structures of healthcare delivery. Imaging has become better – allowing faster, earlier and more effective diagnosis – but most of this still takes place in the radiology department or operating room. Movement away from this model has been flagged this week as leading imaging companies look to release mobile phone sized ultrasound products designed to be used in primary care.
I believe that this is just an early indicator of what is possible and how sophisticated tools will increasingly move care from the hospital into the community and from the specialist to the generalist in the community. This will also extend to the patient who will increasingly want to take more control of managing his or her health and sickness when it arrives. There will be increasing opportunities for companies who are traditionally targeted at the hospital to break out into community care and even over-the-counter devices used to help keep people healthy or to more effectively manage chronic conditions which impact all of us as we increasingly expect to live into our nineties.
The latest implantable technologies for cardiac patients already have very sophisticated embedded sensory and telemetry capabilities which are, as yet, not matched by the IT infrastructure to maximise the value of the information that these devices collect. The future will see all sorts of e-enabled technologies that can support the treatment of every kind of condition in the community. Tracking chronic ulcers, the condition of diabetes patients, monitoring cancer patients; all is possible and will become common place in the years ahead. All of this will fundamentally shift the distribution and utilisation of resources within the healthcare system and offer the best chances for developing sustainable and affordable healthcare for all in the future.
John WilkinsonAuthor : MedTech Europe