The Market LandscapeBefore talking about security in healthcare is better to analyze the digital health market. Wearable connected devices are becoming omnipresent, and fitness trackers were extremely popular in the past few years contributing to its major growth. Research conducted by Parks Associates suggests that more than 78 million wearables were sold worldwide in 2015; by 2019, the fitness tracker market is set to top $5bn. Fitbit, Jawbone, Xiaomi, Misfit, Withings and Garmin have all become household names thanks to an ever-increasing thirst for insights about our own physical performance. The range of measurable variables is already phenomenal, from basic metrics like the route and speed of your travel, to heart rate, respiratory rate, skin temperature, ECG (heart activity) and even posture during activities. And that’s just the start point; many new devices are looking at more detailed information and health data such as pulse and breathing variability, mood and EEG (brain activity) which in turn will support healthcare and help medicals professional with numerous health conditions. It’s worth observing that these fitness trackers are still consumer orientated products. They may inspire design trends and provide fun ways to follow activity progress, but their rightful place is in the gym or on the field of play, not the GP’s office. However, a new trend is telling us otherwise, the industry has come a long way since Fitbit launched the first fitness band tracker in 2009. Emerging trends are now more evident such as predictive & preventative wearables and medically capable ones. As example of this you can read more about the future of wearable sensors that can detect heart failures
Major Challenges & OpportunitiesA major challenge for wearable tech is battery power. With devices shrinking so drastically, how can they be reliably powered without requiring constant recharging or regular battery replacements? Energy-harvesting technologies take things one step further, bypassing the need for recharging or replacement. Reliability is also an issue if consumer devices are ever going to cross over into medical applications. In fact, the one clear negative impact wearables may pose for GPs is a misunderstanding by patients regarding the reliability and potential for self-diagnosis with these types of device. This is a delicate issue as data errors can put at risk patients’ lives, we are now talking about medical interventions not merely fitness recreational usage. One of the other main challenges is long term engagement, the devices sometimes are adopted as novelty and new exciting proposition, in other words they can be perceived as fashionable to many modern technology lovers, therefore they’ll use them. However, in the long run they many encounter a lack of enthusiasm further down the line and the sustainable desired engagement is not there anymore. That leads me to think that the intrinsic motivation wasn’t there or it wasn’t the right one to start with when the user adopted the wearable. Another challenge that manufacturers are now trying to combat is adapting to human failure, what I mean is that human beings are imperfect creatures, we forget things, break patterns of behaviour, change habits, ditch the right thing for the wrong thing, adding another layer of complexity to the wearables adoption and sustainability. Therefore, blending wearable technologies into clothing, indispensable day to day gadgets and other existing ones, this is now certainly a new trend to watch for. Samsung Electronics clearly expressed its intentions to develop ‘wearable healthcare devices’ as its new business item for the future instead of robots that LG Electronics and other rivals are paying attention to. It is said that wearable devices which can utilize the strengths of AI software more effectively are more suited for the future health care market than the hardware roles of robots due to aging society. Read more insights about Samsung plans to focus more on wearable devices for healthcare
Security ThreatsFrom data point of view wearables are collecting more and more data with higher accuracy due to their increased computing power, memory and software evolution. The threats in my view can be of two kinds: 1) attacks to these devices (hacking), which is typical to the IoT world in which devices are connected but have less capability to implement highly efficient protections. The example of IP cameras which have been hacked and which created a DDoS attack in US can be applied to any connected device. 2) the increased data collection and exchange among devices and cloud services, raises concerns about what data can reveal and how it’s used. The location, heart rate, blood oxymeter, even physical activity can reveal the health status of a person. However this data is not threated as sensitive data. Usually producers choose the strategy of hiding in the grey area of wellbeing. Jovan Stevovic – CEO at Chino.io (a Platform that helps developers to build and deliver globally their digital health apps with security) states “ the EU regulation is quite clear on this – Article 29 Working Party Opinion, an EU body with advisory status, provides a more detailed definition, which defines health data as:
- Medical data providing information about the physical or mental health status of someone (the data subject), generated in a professional medical context.
- Raw data collected by apps or devices that can be used to induce, individually or aggregated with others, someone’s health status or health risk.
- Data that can permit someone to deduce a person’s health status or risk, regardless of the accuracy, legitimacy or adequacy of this deduction”.
Keynote of Roberto Viola – Director General of DG CONNECTHe states that : ¨To be successful you need to start with a global vision and mindset.¨Finishes his keynote with a big statement: ¨What is driving digital transformation is data, as the oil of digital economy.¨
Panel Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Chahab Nastar ( Chief Innovation Officer at EIT Digital ) , Henry Tirri ( EVP and CTO at Harman International ) and Karen Boers ( Managing Director Startups.be & CEO European Startup Network )He talks about The European Landscape and its challenges and one the most remarcable input is: ¨Personalized Medicine is the future of Digital Health.¨
Here, Karen Boers observes: ¨Everything seems to move a little slow at European level and that needs to change.¨
And Henry Tirri says: ¨The Digitalization is going on forever… and bits are eating atoms.¨
EIT Digital ConferenceThe digital transformation agenda in Europe is extremely important for future economic growth. EIT Digital have put together an incredible event where the focus on the Digital Transformation was at the heart of the conference.
This company is a leading European digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organisation driving Europe’s digital transformation.EIT Digital supports the innovation community by bringing together students, researchers, engineers, business developers and entrepreneurs. Their work is very diversified, the support they offer ranges from go to market strategies to investment matchmaking and pretty much everything in between. keep reading
The video game industry is no doubt the market leader in augmented and virtual reality technologies with investors eager to participate with over $1.1 billion in just the first quarter of 2016.
However, the video gaming and entertainment sector aren’t the only industries who are benefiting from advancements in virtual reality. Based on a study, the healthcare and video game industries are the largest markets for VR.
Virtual Reality in Digital Health
VR has become a tool to help facilitate patient care. And the technology is already being used in diagnostics, training, and the treatment of certain severe conditions.
Patients suffering from pain and mental disorders which include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can benefit from the technology. A study by the University College London proposes that VR therapy could reduce symptoms of depression.
PsyTech has designed Phobos. It is a VR technology that will reduce phobias, paranoia and PTSD by gradually introducing patients to the object of their fear through VR simulations. Exposure of their fears is slowly ramped up until they are capable of coping without experiencing episodes of stress or fear.
The RAPAEL Smart Glove, for instance, is a biofeedback device worn by patients in stroke rehabilitation. Through sensors transmitted from the patient’s hand, difficulty levels are adjusted on the 3D training game created by the software.
VR has proved to be an excellent tool for the training and education in healthcare because it provides the most realistic experiences. Through a 3D perspective, physicians have a more accurate view of the conditions for surgery thus aiding them in the planning of the precise treatments and procedure.
Through programs such as VirtaMed, future surgeons and first responders are provided the opportunity to practice on simulators, allowing them a realistic view of the precise angles and pressure that it required of them to operate on a particular organ.
Thanks to VR and the guidance of a physical therapist, exercises can be done in the comfort of the patient’s’ home. This reduces the number of visits that the patient needs to make to have sessions with their therapist in the facility. Instead, the therapy sessions are conducted interactively and via handheld controls with trackable motion sensors.
The Future of VR in Healthcare
Innovations in technology, particularly in augmented and virtual reality are proving to have a place beyond gaming and entertainment. Evidently, healthcare will benefit from the technology significantly.
We expect that based on the positive response to the tech and the promising possibilities. We will see an increase in research, development of better software and hardware. And more success stories of how VR is undeniably an important supplemental technology in the future of healthcare.