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Wearables Blog Part 11: Interesting developments

Friday, April 15, 2016
Chaloner Chute - Digital Health & Care Institute

In previous months we have updated on some of concepts DHI are considering. Chief among those is the connectivity 'layer' that brokers the flow of information and the service delivery model between consumer / citizen centred approaches and the way existing statutory services are provided. In the coming months, DHI will be codifying its research and providing some horizon scanning materials in this space, along with some plans for how we can accelerate the formation of this connectivity layer.

In the meantime, this blog will continue to highlight interesting developments for both the strategic discussions and some interesting new technological capabilities.

McKinsey released an article earlier this year about how we can move digital health & care forward. Their chief recommendation was that substantive progress "would involve the interconnection of all digital-health stakeholders through an open innovation platform." This is the latest in a number of organizations and experts identifying the need for some sort of brokerage capability for digital health and care technologies. DHI's key proposition in this space is that, while many people refer to the 'platform' or even 'portal' that we need to fill this gap, this might run the whole sector down a rabbit hole if we apply previously effective hierarchical 'top down' thinking to the problem. It is highly unlikely that the public sector will be able to specify and tender for a single system that can fulfil this connectivity function, and that can evolve quickly enough to continue to provide brokerage as the pace of technological change accelerates. We instead advocate for a dispersed approach - a layer of platforms and digital services that work to common standards, future proofing our ability to innovate and transform as new capabilities emerge.

And to close, here are a few more bits and pieces that run with the more 'invasive' monitoring capabilities we have seen developing:

  • As contributed by Gary Cornelius last week - which I will unashamedly steal as written: "There are many new possibilities as micro-controllers/small computers get smaller, lower, powered and cheaper. The Michigan micro mote a good example of some of this recent progress". This sort of development opens up possibilities for smart devices at a truly tiny scale. In five years will technology be implanted under our skin to detect and transmit vital signs?
  • A new bionic lens looks to be nearing approval in the next 2-5 years. This could eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses, with the company reporting "three times better than 20/20 vision" and surgery coming in at only $3,200 per eye.
  • An MIT spin out, Microchips Biotech has been backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a contraceptive microchip. This is based on a tiny device that stores up hormones and then releases a precise device at scheduled intervals. This is also remote controlled, so the device can be switched on and off without surgery. The same technology has already been show to be effective for treatment of Osteoporosis. The possibilities boggle the mind!

Thanks for reading