Review of digital health trends in 2015

There were a number of digital health trends that were predicted to be big in 2015 such as health tracking tattoos and virtual visits. Indeed in 2012, a PwC survey found 59% of doctors believed a widespread adoption of digital health in the near future would be unavoidable, in 2014, 86% thought this.

Daily healthcare app usage has increased over this period too, moving towards doctors on demand apps that offer medical consultations. So looking back here’s what happened in health-related tech in 2015.

digital health trends

10 digital health trends in 2015

1. Wearables – people are still into wearable fitness trackers but there were concerns about the personal information stored in these devices in 2015, for example there were concerns about health insurance providers getting an insight into data but these have been resolved.

2. Solar-powered contact lenses – Google has a patent for these hi-tech contact lenses that track data including the blood temperature and blood alcohol levels of the wearer.

3. Health-tracking tattoos – these became a reality in 2015 where biometric tattoos could sense and track your temperature, heart rate, and hydration levels.

4. IBM Health Cloud – big data got bigger in 2015 in digital health and the IBM Watson’s new Health Cloud can now interpret huge amounts of data, helping researchers to match patients to clinical trials and develop drugs.

5. Virtual visits – in the US digital women’s health clinics called Maven were set up where nurse practitioners and doctors in clinic could answer questions about birth control and pregnancy and, in some cases write prescriptions virtually.

6. Online mental health visits – are becoming more common, these save patients  money visiting clinics and is particularly beneficial for those in rural areas.

7. Google symptoms – this is a knowledge graph that captures common medical conditions that are verified by doctors, this helps make health searches less scary and encourages patients to ensure they get things treated before they get worse.

8. Cybersecurity – has been a big thing in 2015 and it’s been addressed with dedicated resources to fix issues of medical data theft particularly with the rise in popularity of wearables.

9. Augmented reality (AR) – is just beginning to become popular with AR devices being used for teaching surgery and helping nurses find veins when drawing blood.

10. Built in sensors – in 2015 there were moisture, proximity and fingerprint sensors by 2018 there will be built in iPhone sensors for ECG, blood pressure, mood and fatigue.

Looking ahead IBM say they will have 30 billion sensors connecting everything with everyone by 2017. And pioneering 3D printing reshaping body parts such a patient’s face and pelvis is a growth area to watch. There will be an increasing push towards regulating wearables, particularly as it is predicted a third of wearables ate said to become invisible by 2017.

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