Next generation health monitoring
12 Jul 2016
We are heading towards a perfect health storm. While we have successfully controlled many acute infections, there has been a massive increase in chronic conditions, such as diabetes, COPD or CVD, which afflict patients for many years and require significant care. These costs put pressure on already strained health budgets. It is estimated that some 20% of patients require 80% of care costs.
Sense in sensors
Health monitoring is not a new technology. It is crucial in a hospital environment, most notably in intensive care situations. Devices typically have high accuracy and a high price - but are not motion tolerant. Attempts have been made to create portable monitors at reduced costs – not easy to use and not easy to move. Fitness tracking devices allow for movement, ergonomics, data portability and ease of use – but at the cost of low functionality and low accuracy. Biovotion sensors seek to capture the design strengths of fitness trackers with a functionality and accuracy moving closer to that of a clinical environment.
The Biovotion VSM1 has no calibration requirements, no buttons, and no cables, with a medical grade docking station for ease of use. It measures six vital bodily signs: heart rate; blood oxygenation; skin temperature; skin/blood perfusion; steps/motion; and the respiratory rate. The next generation VSM2 will capture 13 sensor signals, including cutaneous water; which will be expanded to 19 sensor signals in 2018, including blood sugar.
Capturing vital signs
The VSM1 fits into an environment based around six factors. Vital signs are captured on the device and then securely transmitted to the cloud. These are then collated into unprocessed data, with a potential to be monetized – before being integrated and illustrated in a proprietary analytic system and finally being transmitted, to the customer and his/her healthcare partners. This final stage ensures that patients receive data that it provides a comprehensible overview that is sufficiently intuitive to allow easy interpretation. A sedentary office day, for example, is displayed as largely green – while looking after the kids over a weekend features many more reds and oranges, as the heart rate increases with play and care.
The point of health monitoring is ultimately health improvement. That is no easy matter, not least because the question 'how are you' is so subjective. Nonetheless, the more meaningful and contextualized data that can be captured, the better an overall picture of wellness can be built up. Biovotion seek to capture this information over three different time horizons:
There are four types of behaviour influencing the state of health. An individual needs to mix a combination of exercise, relaxation, nurture (social life, interests and diet) and medical health. Most actions within this consolation are non-clinical and are well-known – in essence, avoiding being excessively sedentary, stress or inappropriate eating.
As well-known as all these conditions are, it does not mean that people do them. Researchers have continuously found that behaviours are very hard to change, no matter how clearly informed the individuals. Even real time data provided by fitness trackers has made little change. The next generation wearables will therefore have to capture and display data in a way that is practical and intuitive for tomorrow's users.
About the speaker
Andreas Caduff is CEO and Founder of Biovotion AG. He spoke at the "Next Generation Insurance Customer: Bringing it to Life" which took place on 22-23 June 2016 at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue.