Who should be responsible for the implementation of health wearables?
Following on from the release of the first Bluetooth headset back in 2000, the growing interest of technology companies to deliver health wearables is now clear to see.
The number of connected wearables worldwide has reached 325mn. Technology is rapidly transforming the healthcare industry, in alignment with growing consumer demands for increased awareness and control over their everyday management of their health.
From healthy eating to ramping up fitness levels, the use of Fitbits, smartwatches, activity trackers, and even smart shoes are revolutionising the way in which we live and work.
However, the rise of sedentary lifestyles in many countries has led to a substantial rise in health problems. From obesity, hypertension and diabetes, the Middle East is no exception. This has led to the growth of new products and services to cater to this essential market.
“Wearables will form part of our care mechanism. We have quite a deep educational programme for diabetes and for rehabilitation. I think some of these devices, for example, will play an important part in these areas,” explains Sanjay Shah, Executive Vice President at pioneering healthcare organisation, Fakeeh Care.
“The other opportunity is how these can be linked into the Electronic Medical Record (EMR), and how this can be synchronised. Another aspect is how insurance companies are going to see the facilitation of these devices.”
However, convincing insurance companies to fund such technologies does not always come easily.
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“If we find that the community comes together and says, ‘look, this is a lifetime way of saving costs’, and the insurance companies will fund some of this, they will be readily implemented. If insurance companies are reluctant to fund this, it takes longer,” observes Shah.
“When introducing robotic surgery for the first time in the UK, we had countless battles with insurance companies to get it recognised. Insurance companies were asking for evidence, and we had to go to the US to find it.
“In the end, the insurance companies relented. Robotic surgeries are now available in a number of NHS sites and is also widely available in a number of hospitals in the private sector.”
It is clear to see that if a new tool has a payer, it becomes somewhat more straightforward to implement. However, if providers are to fund the technology, it is increasingly complex.
“Insurance companies have a role to play in terms of seeing that this is beneficial and improvement and efficiency will come over time, as opposed to just right at the starting point. I'm looking forward to the new interest of major tech players who have something to contribute,” reflects Shah.
“I think the other thing is blockchain. Blockchain has potential in the pharma industry and how healthcare is managed. I suspect there will be a lot of potential tentacles out of blockchain technology which will come our way over the next 10 years or so. I'm quite excited by that.”
NHS care homes are better than private, report finds
A new survey has found that 60% of people with parents in NHS care homes believe the quality of care has improved, compared to just 49% of respondents with parents in private care facilities.
The survey was conducted by Kepler Vision Technologies, an AI-driven company formed at the University of Amsterdam. It was carried out among UK adults with parents over the age of 75.
Respondents cited more capable care staff and better monitoring systems as being the main reasons for improvement.
However those who do not have parents in assisted living facilities had a different viewpoint - in this case only 35% of respondents believe that NHS facilities are improving, compared to 32% who believe it is only improving in the private sector.
Only 18% of people whose parents live with them or independently believe care home staff are able to look after residents to a good standard.
Kepler Vision say this difference in opinion is due to perceived budget cuts and financial pressures, with 67% of people commenting that a lack of funding has had a negative effect on care in both NHS and private care facilities.
Other key findings of the survey include:
* Out of those who say quality has declined in care homes, 69% say the NHS is dealing with budget cuts and increased financial pressure, while 65% also said that the private system is dealing with these pressures too
* 55% said that they or their parent have money saved specifically to pay for their future care
* 35% said the idea of their parent in a care home makes them feel frightened, although 32% say it makes them feel secure
* 52% are worried about their parent catching COVID
* 47% are worried about their parent being lonely
* 46% are concerned they could fall over alone
The announcement of this research follows the UK government's decision to delay presenting its social care budget till the autumn.
Commenting on the research, Dr Harro Stokman, CEO of Kepler Vision Technologies said: “While it is good to see that people recognise the importance of staff and face-to-face interaction in elderly care, the huge gap in opinion between those with parents in care and those without shows that there are unfair negative perceptions around the residential care space.
"More can and should be done by care homes to give people the confidence that their relatives will receive the very best care - by highlighting the excellent work of staff and how well they are able to monitor resident’s needs with easy-to-use technology.”