In many countries, the approach to healthcare has changed greatly for a number of reasons. The increased use of smartphones globally, improved connectivity and a greater awareness of health and fitness are driving the growing demand for medical devices which work with smartphones.
There is also an urgent need to offer home healthcare where possible for ageing populations.
Research shows that the global smart medical devices market is expected to reach USD 24,46 billion by 2025. This includes North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Middle East Asia.
The advent of the Internet of Things means that anyone with a wifi connection and a smartphone can monitor aspects of health and fitness, from sleeping patterns and physical activity to vital signs.
This means people with limited physical abilities, can gather and send their health data electronically to their healthcare providers, who then decide if treatment is required. Patients save time and money and doctors’ appointments are freed up in overstressed healthcare facilities.
For example, continuous glucose monitoring devices greatly enhance the treatment of certain forms of diabetes and allow people to get on with their lives more independently and without the need to go to doctors for regular check ups as was the case before these devices.
Patient safety is paramount, especially when it comes to connected medical devices, such as pacemakers or blood glucose monitors, which could be hacked. Additionally, people need to know that their medical data will remain private.
One way to tackle these issues as the technology evolves, is through standardization to ensure medical products and services are trustworthy from the get go.
“Cyber threats and personal data privacy are the most essential questions that need to be answered. In the US, very strong privacy laws, and laws like the GDPR in the EU, could hinder the collection of such large amounts of data. This will have to be overcome, and the other big question which needs answering is: who owns the data gathered by these devices?,” says Michael Appel, heading up the work done by IEC for electrical equipment in medical practice.
According to research by MarketsandMarkets, artificial intelligence (AI) software and deep learning technologies in the global healthcare market will be worth USD 7 988,8 million by 2022.
AI technologies, such as robotically-assisted surgery, virtual nursing assistants, connected devices, image analysis and clinical trials already play different roles in the delivery of healthcare treatments, surgeries and services, including improving diagnostics and helping doctors make better decisions for patients. Some algorithms are already matching or beating the performance of world-leading medical specialists.
“Consensus-based international standards will play a crucial role in accelerating adoption of AI technology in industry application verticals”, says Wael Diab, who is leading IEC and ISO development of international standards for the whole AI ecosystem.
Read more in IEC e-tech