With bad health placing a burden on a country’s economic wellbeing, the market is open for startups providing home health monitoring technology.
Technology has had an impact on a wide variety of sectors, improving the way we live our lives and giving us better access to resources than ever before. One area that has reaped the benefits of the technological is medicine, with many patients receiving better care and outcomes as a result. As healthcare is one of the biggest pressures that is placed on a country’s economic wellbeing, it is essential that innovation continues to support it.
Consequently, systems for home health monitoring have recently become a significant focus for the IT industry, opening a space for new technology startups and potentially creating many new job opportunities in IT.
The burden of chronic conditions and the aging population
The aging population is becoming an issue in countries all over the world, including Australia. Likewise, despite advances in patient care and treatment, chronic conditions remain a problem for a marked portion of the population. These factors place a burden on the economy, costing the government significant funds every year.
According to the Australian government’s 2015 Intergenerational Report, men are expected to live to an average age of 95.1, and women to 96.6, by around the year 2054. It was also predicted that there will be just 2.7 people of working age for every one person over the age of 65. This means that the need for healthcare will likely increase, without a rise in the proportional number of taxpayers to compensate.
Michael O’Neill, chief executive of National Seniors Australia, argues that the increased burden is caused by the population as a whole.
“More than 80 per cent of the cost increases associated with the health budget are non-demographic. They’re about the costs of new technology, the greater take-up of different kinds of medical procedures and so forth, health costs, which are unrelated to the demographic,” he told ABC News.
With such high stakes riding on reducing the expense of healthcare in Australia, and indeed in many nations across the globe, technological advancement may be vital to find a solution.
How can home health monitoring technology help?
One of the most promising IT innovations emerging in this space is home health monitoring. This technology can help to provide more up-to-date information to medical professionals, without the patients having to be admitted into a medical practice or hospital. As a result, doctors will be better equipped to monitor and manage the ongoing treatment of patients, particularly those with chronic conditions.
One of the biggest health expenses is hospital admissions, and some chronically ill people can be readmitted time and time again. However, home health monitoring technology can enable patients’ conditions to be managed before they reach this stage, reducing the cost overall.
For example, the Director of the Integrated Heart Failure Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Ravi Ramani, told the Wall Street Journal that the use of a remote monitoring system lowered readmissions among patients with congestive heart failure. It actually decreased the rate from 20 per cent to 12.9 per cent in just a year.
With the potential for technology to make a drastic and measurable impact on healthcare spending and outcomes, it will be up to professionals in software developer roles and other relevant areas of IT to create the systems necessary to facilitate such monitoring.
Apple shows potential of health applications
One example of a relevant technology that is already making an impact is Apple’s health app. The application enables users of any Apple device to actively track their general health and fitness by inputting statistics such as their height, weight, movement, and even sleep patterns. The data makes it easier for users to assess their own wellbeing, and detect the areas that need improvement.
An interesting new development in the application is a feature designed to promote organ donation. With the demand drastically overtaking the supply of healthy organs, the app educates users about the benefits of organ donation, and even allows them to sign up. In addition to the monitoring capabilities, this feature could be very beneficial for healthcare resources overall.
Apple’s system paves the way for more IT workers in app developer roles to create similar applications, enabling anyone with a mobile device to monitor their personal health everywhere they go.
The market for home health tech startups
With the market showing a rising demand for technology of this kind, it presents a ripe opportunity for new IT startups.
According to George Demiris, professor at the University of Washington, there are a number of areas in home health monitoring that could be improved by new technologies. These include social interactions, emergency detection, sensory and cognitive activity, and general physiological monitoring such as vital signs, sleep and weight.
As population health continues to be a significant concern, it may be up to entrepreneurs and professionals in IT careers to find fresh solutions to the issue, supplying better information to medical professionals and allowing us greater control over our well-being than ever before.