Taking the pulse of connected health

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Taking the pulse of connected health 23 June 2015

Managing Director, Gareth Morrison chats about opportunities in the Health sector.

A new generation of healthcare is just around the corner for patients, carers and medical staff with companies in Northern Ireland already embarking on potentially market leading innovations.

Soon the health care we receive will be almost unrecognisable when compared with what is on offer now. An aging population, increase in chronic illnesses and budgetary pressures have forced our medical professionals to think outside the box and they are turning to technology for the solutions to some of the toughest problems currently facing society.

In its simplest form, connected health refers to solutions that use technology to deliver healthcare remotely, allowing more efficient monitoring, patient identification and behavioural analysis. 

We have already seen wearable fitness devices come to the market which allow people to measure how far they have walked or how well they are sleeping. It is likely that the wearable device concept will begin to appear in our hospitals to measure vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure in a subtle and discrete way.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are almost a billion people globally who suffer from a chronic disease. They predict that by the end of this year the global telehealth industry will be worth $18bn, with a rapid rise anticipated in the years to come. One forecaster from market watcher Machina Research has estimated that by 2020 this figure will have increased to $69bn.

We have recently joined Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC), a local organisation which is playing a key role in facilitating collaboration and innovation between home-grown companies. It is leading transformational research which aligns care needs with technology providers, researchers and clinical experience. It has already attracted membership from well-known companies including Randox and academic institutions such as Ulster University, who are working alongside smaller companies to develop new ideas.

Our experience within the custodial sector has shown our potential to develop behavioural analysis technology for use with patients suffering from dementia and autism. We are aiming to develop a product that will recognise repetitive behaviour in a patient. This is often the first sign that a patient is becoming agitated, which can progress to aggressive behaviour. Not only will our technology alert the carer an make them aware of the situation, it will also highlight trends and trigger events so that in the future steps can be taken to reduce the influence of the triggers.

To read more, check out the article in the Ulster Business Magazine June edition.

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