Digital health in the spotlight as pandemic changes focus of tech show

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Washington (AFP)

Digital healthcare is in the spotlight at the big tech industry event this week amid a pandemic that has highlighted the importance of remote services, with potentially lasting impact on delivery medical.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place online from Monday, will showcase technology for remote patient visits, biosensors and a range of other gadgets that can help people avoid doctor’s offices and wards. ‘waiting.

According to researchers at Frost & Sullivan, demand for telehealth services has increased by 64% in the United States alone, highlighting the need for better communication platforms, home monitoring devices and more.

“We have learned that going to waiting rooms with other sick patients can be problematic and people are looking for other ways to get care,” said Samir Qamar, family physician and founder of MedWand, which should launch its device with 10 diagnoses. tools for remote care this year.

Qamar, speaking on a CES panel, said the pandemic has also revealed shortcomings in telemedicine, including a lack of internet access for certain segments of the population.

“One of the big problems is the lack of ability to examine patients remotely,” Qamar told AFP.

The companies are developing remote tools that can be used at home, including stethoscopes, otoscopes, heart and blood pressure monitors, but must show they are very accurate to gain regulatory approval, Qamar noted.

CES exhibitors will showcase devices that monitor seniors living alone for signs of medical problems, wearable devices that help in early detection of disease as well as a variety of diagnostic tools.

A range of occupational health gadgets will also be on display, from smart thermometers to air purifiers and disinfectant robots.

“Crazy devices like personal air purifiers that were seen with amusement last year will be seen as much more relevant this year,” said Richard Windsor, an independent technology analyst who writes the Radio Free Mobile blog.

– Digital files, analytical –

Another important element for remote medical care is the monitoring of health data and the use of analysis tools to better understand the risks of Covid-19 as well as other diseases, notes Bettina Experton, CEO of longtime CES exhibitor Humetrix digital health platform.

With more and more people turning to telemedicine, “sometimes the doctor may not have an existing relationship with the patient, so there is a critical need for their medical history,” Experton said.

“We have developed various mobile apps with medical histories that you can share at the push of a button. ”

The platform, available to individuals and insurers, also uses artificial intelligence to help assess risks for those affected by the coronavirus.

Likewise, Tokyo-based Axion Research will unveil an early detection system that predicts disease risks, including for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, using AI to ‘map’ people’s health prospects. .

– Physical form evolves –

While CES has long focused on consumer products for fitness, this is increasingly applied to the health arena as technology advances, said Robin Murdoch of consulting group Accenture, which follows the show. .

“It’s been focused on the consumer side of health and fitness, but there’s a certain intersection,” Murdoch said.

“You now have smartwatches and other devices that monitor your pulse, blood oxygen and more, and provide a lot of data” that can be applied for medical purposes.

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