UAE: Now, wear your health on your T-shirt — literally

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Dubai - Wearables, remote monitoring systems gaining steam in healthcare industry, experts say



by

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Tue 22 Jun 2021, 7:28 PM

Smartwatches that check your heartbeats by the minute, or track your steps per day, are so passe, really... So, how about wearing clothes that can track your heart rate, gauge your breathing, or, if you fancy, track your pulmonary impedance?

Well, a T-shirt being showcased at the Arab Health Exhibition 2021, can do exactly that, and more... much more.

Medical experts at the show told Khaleej Times that wearable medical devices and remote health monitoring tools are gaining steam across the global healthcare sector, driven by the latest technological advances, alongside a shift towards a more socially-distanced lifestyle and patients seeking convenience.

Flora Maurincomme, business developer and sales manager, Nordics, at Chronolife, a digital health company committed to developing innovative mobile solutions for remote monitoring services, said that the market for medical wearables has grown as the technology has evolved. She said that Chronolife has developed a patented smart T-shirt capable of capturing six different physiological parameters, paving the way for continuous remote monitoring through easy-to-use everyday garments.

Experts say digital tracking tools are not just being used for general health purposes, but also for specific disease management, where patients are connected with healthcare providers and any issues or emergencies are flagged up immediately.

“The concept was that there was something missing between being at home and the hospital,” Maurincomme said. “The wearables that we have developed are used at different points of the patient journey, either in the hospital or after you have been released. Our smart T-shirt is designed for comfort and long-term wear; our customers tell us that at the end of the day they forget that they are even wearing a shirt that is monitoring them.”

Data collected by the sensors in the T-shirt is transmitted to health data-hosting servers and made available to healthcare professionals for analysis. The multi-parametric solution allows caregivers and healthcare professionals to accompany their patients all along the continuum of care for remote patient monitoring or therapeutic efficiency programmes.

According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the global wearable medical devices market size was valued at $16.6 billion in 2020, and is expected to expand at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.8 per cent from 2021 to 2028. In addition, the global medical wearables market is forecast to be worth $34.89 billion by 2027, according to an analysis by Emergen Research.

Grand View Research noted that the growth of segments such as home healthcare and remote patient monitoring devices, as well as an increasing focus on fitness and a healthy lifestyle will all impact the global medical wearables market. The diagnostic devices segment accounted for the largest revenue share of 62.5 per cent in the medical wearables market in 2020.

In terms of types of wearable medical devices, the strap/clip/bracelet segment dominated, and accounted for the largest revenue share of 51.2 per cent in 2020. These items are likely to remain dominant throughout the forecast period. However, other segments such as medical garments are also growing at a fast pace.

“Instead of the hospital being at the center of care; you need to shift to the patient being at the center of care,” said Dr Samir Said, GM of Connected Care and Healthcare Informatics at Philips. “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that there are several challenges when it comes to providing effective healthcare such as a limited number of hospital beds and medical workers.

We have to look at technology and how it can be used to help both patients and doctors in a way that is more efficient and reduces costs. I have no doubt that remote care and telehealth will gain steam.”

He explained that residents are becoming more comfortable with the idea of remote monitoring tools, with many having used them during the initial months of the pandemic during the restrictions. “Technology is always evolving, but you have to remember that it will not replace doctors; it will only help them do more and add more quality to the care that they are giving their patients.”

rohma@khaleejtimes.com


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