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Among the most exciting trends in the healthcare sector is the rise of wearable technology. As numerous industry observers have noted, these solutions, combined with specialized IT services, enable both patients and doctors to gain a far better, more comprehensive understanding of individuals' health conditions and lifestyles. This insight can lead to better treatment, prescriptions and behavior.
As time goes on and the technology evolves, the influence of patient-tracking tools is likely expand. In fact, some industry experts believe that more advanced sensor tools are poised to revolutionize the healthcare sector, as USA Today recently highlighted.
The news source reported that Dr. Leslie Saxon spoke at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin and emphasized the role that sensor technology is likely to play in the healthcare sector. Whereas current tools of this sort are limited to wearable technology, Saxon noted that many firms are now working to develop implants or ingestible sensors. These tools may be no larger than grains of sand, and will be able to provide much more data than modern offerings.
For example, Saxon suggested that some of these sensors will track the individual's body temperature, hydration levels, respiratory function and quality of sleep, the news source reported.
"Consumers will be able to curate their own sensors and track the data they want," said Saxon, according to the news source.
One of the most significant consequences of the proliferation of these sensors and accompanying IT services will be a huge influx of data collection. Saxon suggested that in the near future, a two-year-old child "will have more medical data in the cloud than any adult alive today," USA Today reported. As a result, healthcare professionals will have more patient information to work with than ever before, allowing more precise and useful care decisions.
A growing market
Further lending credence to these predictions, a recent report by iData Research projected that the U.S. market for patient monitoring technology will reach $5.1 billion in 2020. In addition to products integrating with smartphones, these tools will include multi-parameter vital sign monitors, pulse oximetry-monitors, electroencephalograms (EEG) and more.
"There has been a surge of interest in implantable electronic devices," Dr. Kamran Zamanian, president and CEO of iData Research, wrote. "Remote monitoring of these devices by doctors and caregivers could significantly reduce in-office follow-up visits. Devices such as the cardioverter defibrillator that is controlled remotely could be lifesaving."
However, it is important to note that in addition to significant opportunities for improved healthcare, these trends will also pose major challenges.
Specifically, Saxon pointed to issues concerning patient privacy that will inevitably emerge.
"Making sure that individual rights are safeguarded" will be a key priority, Saxon said, according to the news source.
Secure IT services will be essential in this capacity. As hospitals and other healthcare providers exponentially increase the amount and variety of data they collect, they will need to invest in robust, reliable security solutions to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to this sensitive protected health information (PHI). Cyberattackers have repeatedly demonstrated the fact that healthcare data is a valuable commodity on the black market, used for identity theft, fraud and other crimes. The collection of even more massive stockpiles of individuals' PHI will necessitate a similar increase in focus on IT security, as well as IT services to take full advantage of these data-gathering sensor tools.