May 17, 2020

Top 5 high-tech health trends to watch in 2014

5 min
Top 5 high-tech health trends to watch in 2014.jpg
Written by Alyssa Clark As the world of mHealth continues to grow, so does the sundry of medical apps, programs, gadgets and gear being created as a r...

Written by Alyssa Clark


As the world of mHealth continues to grow, so does the sundry of medical apps, programs, gadgets and gear being created as a result of the technological-health push. It is no doubt that the release of Nike’s FuelBand and the Fitbit, the market it projected to grow 100 million units by the end of 2014 alone.

Mashable recently reported the numbers of mobile health technology from 2013, demonstrating the pull that mobile technology maintains over the development of healthcare needs. “According to mobile tech consultancyResearch2Guidance, there are now close to 100,000 mobile health apps in 62 app stores, with the top 10 apps generating over 4 million free downloads every day.” 2013 will forever be marked as the year of the wearables and health apps, so what is there to watch out for now in 2014?

1.Personal Health Monitoring

After the sweeping adjustment to mobile health apps that can track calories, steps and pill-times, it is scary to think of what is to come next in terms of mHealth developments. According to Pew Research, “21 percent of Americans already use some form of technology to track their health data, and as the market for wearable devices and health apps grows, so too will the mountain of data about our behaviors and vitals.”

The very thin line has been established between the need for private health records, and the accessibility now of accessing one’s health information from any smart device. Network security business are set to benefit greatly this year, as CEO Paul Martini of iboss Network Security recently cautioned the public, from paranoid patients bent on protecting their personal information— yet another aspect of this trend to keep an eye out for this year.

“The rise of wearable health technology in 2014 will incite patient concerns, government regulation and workflow adjustments within healthcare institutes to ensure that patient data remains secure,” Martini predicts. Watch for an increased focus on data security as data moves from apps to the exam room.

2.Smart Clothes (more wearables)

The ease and comfort of wearable health monitoring technology took center stage in 2013, with wristbands and clip-on trackers paving the way for bigger, and better healthy-clothing technologies to take-over in 2014. Sensors embedded in apparel presents the best of both worlds: comfort and peace of mind that health data is being recorded. Companies are quickly jumping on this bandwagon, after Nike’s built-in step counter and OMsignal’s biosensing technology, in order to not be left in the fashionable dust.

According to OMSignal co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau, “When you think about it, clothing is the original wearable. We're going to see technology integrated directly into our clothing — first through sensors, but eventually it will be weaved into the fibers.”

We put our money on OMsignal taking over in this sphere of the market in 2014, so if investors are curious as to where to place their homeless dollars, this could be a great place to start.

“Technology innovations used by professional sports teams, like the miCoach Elite smart sensor shirt used by every team across Major League Soccer, will be the same technology in 2014 to help fitness and wellness participants get healthy,” Stacey Burr of Wearable Sports Electronics says.

3. Augmented Nutrition

The 2013 craze of calorie counting and food journaling has transformed in 2014 already, in the form of augmented nutrition. In order to fit into those new clothes you bought to start the new year, you need to be able to keep a closer eye on what exactly it is that you are putting into your body. Popular apps like MyFoodJournal, CalorieCounter, Fooducate and more have tirelessly counted the thousands of calories that we ingest on a daily basis; from scanning packages, to holding a smart library of our most regularly eaten foods, these apps think for us and take out the questions in terms of how much we can/should eat to hit a certain weight goal.

Mashable suggests monitoring one company in particular in 2014: “For example, the AIRO wristband — launching in the fall of 2014 — will be able to track automatically both the calories you consume and the quality of your meals. With a built-in spectrometer, AIRO uses different wavelengths of light to detect nutrients released into the bloodstream as they are broken down during and after your meals.”

4. Virtual Health Calls (general telemedicine)

The doctor is in— in fact, he is in your own home. The push in 2014 will now bring more doctors in the homes of patients, not in physical form, but through the help of telemedicine and telehealth. Virtual house calls are set to be the main event for 2014, and will now bring the doctor to you, instead of dealing with long hospital wait times, costly co-pays and contracting something from the other sick people waiting in the waiting room with you.

“It’s ironic that patients are called patients," says Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap, an online service that gets you free answers to any health question from a doctor. "When someone is feeling emotional or is in physical pain, they are anything but patient." HealthTap’s new app, Talk To Docs, lets you get medical questions answered on your mobile device.

5. Health Rewards

Getting paid for getting healthy? Sounds like a good enough deal to us.

It has recently been reported by companies like Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health that two-thirds of companies today are guaranteeing financial payoffs for embracing wellness policies. This is over a two-fold jump from the reported findings in 2010, which tells analysts that even more kick-backs will be available to people in 2014 as well.

Mashable reported the following as proof for the upcoming trend: For example, one service that’s currently in beta is LifeVest, an online health incentive program that companies can use to reward employees for improving their health. Users can also ask their family and friends to sponsor them within the system to earn even more rewards.

As getting paid to hit the gym becomes more commonplace, we may also see greater adoption of consumer apps such as GymPact. GymPact lets you check in via GPS at the gym, count your running, biking or walking with RunKeeper, or track your exercises by wearing or holding your phone while working out. The system fines you a small amount for missing workouts, and rewards you for hitting your goals.

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Jun 11, 2021

How UiPath robots are helping with the NHS backlog

6 min
UiPath software robots are helping clinicians at Dublin's Mater Hospital save valuable time

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many hospitals to have logistical nightmares, as backlogs of surgeries built up as a result of cancellations. The BMJ has estimated it will take the UK's National Health Service (NHS) a year and a half to recover

However software robots can help, by automating computer-based processes such as replenishing inventory, managing patient bookings, and digitising patient files. Mark O’Connor, Public Sector Director for Ireland at UiPath, tells us how they deployed robots at Mater Hospital in Dublin, saving clinicians valuable time. 

When Did Mater Hospital implement the software robots - was it specifically to address the challenges of the pandemic? 
The need for automation at Mater Hospital pre-existed the pandemic but it was the onset of COVID-19 that got the team to turn to the technology and start introducing software robots into the workflow of doctors and nurses. 

The pandemic placed an increased administrative strain on the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) department at Mater Hospital in Dublin. To combat the problem and ensure that nurses could spend more time with their patients and less time on admin, the IPC deployed its first software robots in March 2020. 

The IPC at Mater plans to continue using robots to manage data around drug resistant microbes such as MRSA once the COVID-19 crisis subsides. 

What tasks do they perform? 
In the IPC at Mater Hospital, software robots have taken the task of reporting COVID-19 test results. Pre-automation, the process created during the 2003 SARS outbreak required a clinician to log into the laboratory system, extract a disease code and then manually enter the results into a data platform. This was hugely time consuming, taking up to three hours of a nurse’s day. 

UiPath software robots are now responsible for this task. They process the data in a fraction of the time, distributing patient results in minutes and consequently freeing up to 18 hours of each IPC nurse’s time each week, and up to 936 hours over the course of a year. As a result, the healthcare professionals can spend more time caring for their patients and less time on repetitive tasks and admin work. 

Is there any possibility of error with software robots, compared to humans? 
By nature, humans are prone to make mistakes, especially when working under pressure, under strict deadlines and while handling a large volume of data while performing repetitive tasks.  

Once taught the process, software robots, on the other hand, will follow the same steps every time without the risk of the inevitable human error. Simply speaking, robots can perform data-intensive tasks more quickly and accurately than humans can. 

Which members of staff benefit the most, and what can they do with the time saved? 
In the case of Mater Hospital, the IPC unit has adopted a robot for every nurse approach. This means that every nurse in the department has access to a robot to help reduce the burden of their admin work. Rather than spending time entering test results, they can focus on the work that requires their human ingenuity, empathy and skill – taking care of their patients. 

In other sectors, the story is no different. Every job will have some repetitive nature to it. Whether that be a finance department processing thousands of invoices a day or simply having to send one daily email. If a task is repetitive and data-intensive, the chances are that a software robot can help. Just like with the nurses in the IPC, these employees can then focus on handling exceptions and on work that requires decision making or creativity - the work that people enjoy doing. 

How can software robots most benefit healthcare providers both during a pandemic and beyond? 
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, software robots were deployed to lessen the administrative strain healthcare professionals were facing and give them more time to care for an increased number of patients. With hospitals around the world at capacity, every moment with a patient counted. 

Now, the NHS and other healthcare providers face a huge backlog of routine surgeries and procedures following cancellations during the pandemic. In the UK alone, 5 million people are waiting for treatment and it’s estimated that this could cause 6,400 excess deaths by the end of next year if the problem isn’t rectified.

Many healthcare organisations have now acquired the skills needed to deploy automation, therefore it will be easier for them to build more robots to respond to the backlog going forwards. Software robots that had been processing registrations at COVID test sites, for example, could now be taught how to schedule procedures, process patient details or even manage procurement and recruitment to help streamline the processes associated with the backlog. The possibilities are vast. 

The technology, however, should not be considered a short-term, tactical and reactive solution that can be deployed in times of crisis. Automation has the power to solve systematic problems that healthcare providers face year-round. Hospital managers should consider the wider challenge of dealing with endless repetitive work that saps the energy of professionals and turns attention away from patient care and discuss how investing in a long-term automation project could help alleviate these issues. 

How widely adopted is this technology in healthcare at the moment?
Automation was being used in healthcare around the world before the pandemic, but the COVID-19 outbreak has certainly accelerated the trend.  

Automation’s reach is wide. From the NHS Shared Business Service in the UK to the Cleveland Clinic in the US and healthcare organisations in the likes of Norway, India and Canada, we see a huge range of healthcare providers deploying automation technology. 

Many healthcare providers, however, are still in the early stages of their journeys or are just discovering automation’s potential because of the pandemic. I expect to see the deployment of software robots in healthcare grow over the coming years as its benefits continue to be realised globally. 

How do you see this technology evolving in the future? 
If one thing is certain, it’s that the technology will continue to evolve and grow over time – and I believe there will come a point in time when all processes that can be automated, will be automated. This is known as the fully automated enterprise. 

By joining all automation projects into one enterprise-wide effort, the healthcare industry can tap into the full benefits of the technology. This will involve software robots becoming increasingly intelligent in order to reach and improve more processes. Integrating the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into automation, for example, will allow providers to reach non-rule-based processes too. 

We are already seeing steps towards this being taken by NHS Shared Business Service, for example. The organisation, which provides non-clinical services to around two-thirds of all NHS provider trusts and every clinical commissioning organisation in the UK, is working to create an entire eco-system of robots. It believes that no automation should be looked at in isolation, but rather the technology should stretch across departments and functions. As such, inefficiencies in the care pathway can be significantly reduced, saving healthcare providers a substantial amount of time and money. 

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