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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Dec 4 2011   5:35PM GMT

The next generation of consumer friendly medical devices



Posted by: RedaChouffani
Apps, health & fitness devices, mhealth, mHealth apps, mHealth devices, mobile health, Remote patient monitoring, telehealth, Zeo

With the rise of smartphones and other mobile devices, many physicians are wondering how these technologies are going to impact their patient / physician relationships. For most, these smarthones are allowing caregivers to communicate with their patients, while providing the ability to access their patient’s charts from anywhere, at any anytime.

And as we continue to discover the value that these devices bring to the health care industry, there are some key areas that starting to show the most promising impact on both improving patient care as well as helping patients manage their chronic conditions.

Telehealth and remote patient monitoring is one area that has been proving to be a significant value-add. With over 37% of all mobile subscribers using mobile devices in the US, coupled with the hight cost of care, many hospitlas and health care systems are looking at how to start using these devices in their organizations. But to be able to truly appreciate how consumers (who happen to be patients in some form or fashion) are reacting to these devices as part of their care, you can simply look at the success of several of the health and fitness tracking devices in the market.

The Zeo Sleep Manager is just one example of a health and fitness product / app combination currently in the market that has experienced a high adoption rate from consumers. Zeo Sleep Manager helps to monitor sleep through tracking brain waves and transmitting information collected to a compatible smarthone or device. This patented device helps track the different cycles of the user’s sleep and provides feedback on how one can improve their sleep while reviewing their progress. Below are seven benefits and criteria that made this product a successful one in the mHealth arena:

Easy of use: From a user prospective, the Zeo Sleep Manager is extremely easy to use. With a few simple and easy to follow steps, you can unpack the device, install the app on your smartphone, sign up for the online account and you are ready to start using it. The point being that it is easy to use, and this should be the case for any remote health-monitoring device. This will ensure that regardless of patient demographics the devices will be easy to use.

Cross platform: There are several new mHealth health devices available in the market that require special software that can only run on certain platforms. Some even require their own special docking station that transmits the information. With the Zeo device, the application connects via Bluetooth to several widely used platforms. From the iPhone to Android powered devices, this enables the users to use their existing smartphone without any additional hardware or device purchase.

Coaching abilities: Another useful function that this tool provides, and one that is a critical as part of any future telehealth and monitoring device, is the coaching and mentoring capability. Zeo provides tips on improving your sleep and allows users to see if they are making progress after adopting some of the recommendations from the Zeo site.

Cost effective: The device costs $99.00, which makes is a very cost effective to own. And for health care providers, having inexpensive and effective devices will allow them to easily send them home with their patients.

Collection of health information: For health care providers, when the patient leaves the health care facility, it becomes challenging to retrieve health related data directly from them. Zeo has shown that it can collect sleep related data and report on it real-time to a web portal or SD card. Health care professionals are looking for similar devices that can collect information such as patient’s weight, pulse, glucose levels, and vitals. It can also transmit that information over to them.

Portable: Zeo provides its users with a device that is small and lightweight. It can be used during a trip or while visiting family without the need to reconfigure anything, unlike some of the previous generation health devices that required analog lines, pre-configuration and the home network and such.

As we are reminded of the increasing cost of chronic disease management in our own population, the need for creative and effective ways for care professionals to work closer with the patients without constant trips to the facility becomes all the more vital. Telehealth monitoring devices will need to take a greater role in facilitating the transfer of information and supporting health care providers in connected care delivery. Zeo is just one example of how a consumer-based device has been adopted by many, and has proven that if a device meets some of the requirements outlined above, it has a great chance to become a significant asset to both caregivers and patients.

 

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