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Healthcare IT Takes Center Stage at 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

ces_2016_smaller.jpgEach year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) never ceases to amaze and enthrall us with its array of exciting new “must-haves” in technology. This year’s CES showcased a strong focus on consumer health that put people at the center, according to Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of the healthcare blog Health Populi.

For health, the devices that came out of last week’s CES ran the gamut – from digital health tools, wearable technology, remote health monitors, fitness trackers, sleep management and food tracking to increasingly, more medical-oriented technology to help people manage chronic pain, diabetes, respiratory conditions and other disease-targeting devices.

With all these devices come mega amounts of intelligence and data, what Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association calls “the new currency.”  As Sarasohn-Kahn notes, the challenge now is to make connections between the islands of devices and generate meaningful information.  This puzzle has given rise to a new field called Consumer Health Informatics.

In its latest consumer research report, “Consumers Journey to Purchase Health & Fitness,” the CTA found that, while the broad category of health and fitness technology has been more popular for improving fitness than improving health, that dynamic is changing. Consumers that fall into two segments – the health-driven and the disease managing – want roughly the same things from their purchase of digital health technology, including tracking stats for blood pressure, heart rate and sleep patterns.

For the healthcare side of the market, consumers are open to sharing data with health professionals however, they doubt how secure the connectivity is to share their health stats with physicians, and fear data security/data breach risks. Still, most consumers want to use their personal data in shared decision-making with their health care professionals.

So – let’s take a quick look at some of the more compelling healthcare-related news and devices  introduced at last week’s CES that will be contributing to the mounds of data generated in 2016:

  • Medtronic and IBM announced a partnership to use cognitive analytics in data from insulin pumps to find ways to better manage diabetes, according to an article in Information Week. The publication also reported that fitness company Under Armor will work with IBM Watson to create a personal health assistant and trainer for athletes.
  • Fitbit announced a new device that is similar to the Apple Watch and features a color touch screen display.
  • Even pregnancy tests are becoming high-tech. First Response announced that they will soon sell Bluetooth-connected tests that can link to a smart phone to inform users of their results, offer health-related information, due date and more.
  • NeuroMetrix introduced an electrical nerve stimulation device called Quell to help alleviate pain. The company’s CEO, Dr. Shai N. Gozani stated, “Wearables and more broadly, the digital health umbrella needs to attack chronic disease and not just focus on the healthiest segments of the population.”
  • And Mimo, a company that positions itself as “building the smart nursery,” has introduced the Mimo onesie, “the best sensor technology available,” to tell anxious parents how their baby is breathing as well as their body position, sleeping temperature, activity level and whether they’re asleep.

We can’t wait to see what healthcare technology trends are on the horizon for CES 2017!