According to analysts Grand View Research, spending on smart connected healthcare will grow by 19% a year, to reach 440 billion euros in 2025. This demand is driven by multiple factors including ageing demographics, overburdened healthcare services and the need to provide accessible, affordable health treatment to all. Above all, the escalation of infectious and chronic diseases, particularly COVID-19, has accelerated the development of new technologies for at-distance healthcare.
Demographic trends driving the demand for connected healthcare
The three global demographic trends driving the demand for connected healthcare are the overall increase in world populations, the rise in aging populations and the growth in the middle class.
Figures from the World Health Organisation show that the over 65s currently represent 9.3% of the global population and that this share will rise to 15.9% by 2050. These individuals have complex care needs. Connected medical care and Point-Of-Care (POC) diagnostics can help provide them with continual healthcare and greater autonomy.
The steep rise in the global middle class, which has more than tripled to 1.7 billion over the last 20 years, according to the 2021 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, has further increased the demands for accessible healthcare. The low density of nursing personnel in some of the regions experiencing the highest middle-class growth has meant that healthcare services have been unable to keep pace.
Technological developments in remote self-diagnostic and monitoring tools reduce the need for face-to-face consultations and hospital stays. The benefits are multiple, with lower healthcare costs, greater accessibility for all, increased autonomy and reduced risks of infection. Connected solutions are therefore vital to addressing the global challenges of democratising healthcare.
Biosensors for remote diagnostics
At Linxens we have been developing easy-to-use, connected medical products for self-monitoring, self-diagnostics and self-healing. These solutions, for a wide range of healthcare applications, include biosensors that perform electrochemical analyses of liquids such as blood, mucus, milk and urine.
Linxens’ innovations in transducers for biosensors include microfluidic layers which allow small amounts of liquid to be analysed by a series of miniaturised electrodes. This enables the biosensor to gather a range of essential information on patient health which can be used to diagnose, or even anticipate, medical conditions such as kidney malfunctions, cardiac insufficiency and high cholesterol. By placing just a single drop of blood on one of these biosensors, doctors – or patients themselves - can instantly obtain vital data, such as glucose levels, coagulation rates, blood cell count and blood gas constituents. Transmittable diseases, such as COVID-19 and tuberculosis can also be detected. The diagnostic information can instantly be transmitted to a healthcare professional who can then prescribe treatment and decide the next steps.
One of the latest concepts we are working on at Linxens is the ability to use smartphones as ‘readers’ of the biosensors and we see a lot of potential in this area. This gives patients added mobility and allows constant interaction between healthcare works and patients, even in remote areas with poor internet access.
“Leveraging on its experience in the healthcare market, Linxens continues to bring its sensing and connectivity solutions to enable and accelerate connected medical care around the world.”
François Germain, Medical & Sensor Business Development Manager.
Higher costs of healthcare, strains on healthcare resources, a growing preference to avoid healthcare centres in person and medical conditions which require monitoring over a period of time, are all contributing to the burgeoning investments in smart monitoring solutions.
We have developed technologies that enable healthcare professionals to monitor their patients’ physicochemical signals remotely. Incorporated into wearable patches and devices, these solutions help to provide continual care, but at lower cost. Doctors and nurses can treat more patients and the need for hospital presence is reduced. Patients gain greater autonomy and risks of infection are lowered.
As an example, smart wound dressings can monitor the healing process by measuring the quantity of liquid absorbed by the dressing. Information is transmitted to the healthcare provider in real time, so they are instantly alerted when the dressing has to be changed and only visit the patient when needed. This brings significant cost savings and operational efficiencies to the healthcare system.
Track and Trace solutions
Linxens’ radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions are micro-systems which combine a transponder, receiver and transmitter to track objects, store information and transmit data.
Hospitals are an ideal application for RFID technologies, due to their complex and constantly changing environments. Linxens has developed RFID systems specifically for hospitals, to help staff quickly locate patients and equipment.
RFID tags on equipment can store data on servicing and maintenance requirements or ensure that medical instruments have been sterilised. RFID tags can also be used to check the authenticity and expiration date of medicines and other consumables.
For patients, wearable RFID wristbands give them more freedom to move around the hospital, while staff can easily monitor their whereabouts. RFID wristbands are a highly practical solution for storing patient information on treatments and prescriptions. This information can be instantly matched with the barcodes on drug packaging, to ensure the correct medication is given – and to optimise stock control.
Secure access and confidential data
Linxens’ expertise in smartcards and the secure transmission of information ensure the protection of patient information and other confidential data. Smartcard solutions can be used as access control systems, to buildings, departments, or restricted access areas of the hospital.
A more proactive approach to smart, connected healthcare
Despite stringent regulatory frameworks, new medical technologies are being developed, approved and deployed at a faster pace than ever. Innovations that enable high-quality, remote healthcare are at the peak of this trend. Over the last 18 months, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and regulatory bodies have taken a more proactive approach to adopting smart, connected solutions which can accelerate access to medical services, for larger numbers of patients. This provides greater protection for medical staff and allows healthcare resources to be used more efficiently.
An engineer by nature, François joined the Linxens product marketing team in 2018, focusing on non-smartcard products, with a strong focus on medical.