Expanding on the popular theme this month, we at SALSA would like to discuss the current trends in smart devices that can easily translate to ‘health care robots’. The popularity of the smart phones as well as devices, supports the underlying goals to realize the theme. What started a couple of decades ago, as a bulky walkie-talkie has now become a palm sized intelligent device: “the cellphone”. This shift has not just provided a mobile telephony, it is accompanied with a host of allied features, some embedded within the hardware and the rest swinging on as the “modern world apps”.
What’s in it for us? We often pose this question as we evaluate the pervasive devices or techniques with the intent to improve patient care. On our side of the aisle, monitoring of chronic conditions such as wounds with smart (wireless & adaptive) biosensors, patient activity, wound conditions and/or compliance with a chosen therapy are important and may offer a direct measurable reduction in costs insurance providers, hospitals and patients. The real time adaptive nature of most of these remote measurements can easily be used to refine subsequent development and induce on the fly changes (device updates) without the need for any physical hardware changes. It is similar to the app updates, we are used to every week or for our cellphone apps.
The key question is: “Is the measurement enough?”. We believe, its not and any measurement must be accompanied with an action, mostly a therapy of some sort. That is why, we often use the term “Theranostics”. For example, wound conditions can be monitored with wireless biosensors to determine healing trajectory, but when combined with some form of therapy modification such as wound dressings, physical activity and/or oral drugs, it may be directly correlated with improved outcomes.
While we are still a large distance away from realizing this through a feasible and sustainable model, works from around the world are helping lay a framework for this smart connectivity and helping improve the care of sick patients. In the next series, we will report some data and case reports to continue the morphing of smart devices!