A roundup of the most recent news stories from the health, technology and care sectors.
Internet of things set to change the face of dementia care
‘Smart bottles that dispense the correct dose medication at the correct time, digital assistants, and chairs that know how long you’ve sat in them are among the devices set to change the face of care for those living with dementia.’
Dementia is now the leading cause of death in Britain, and is thought to affect nearly one million people in the United Kingdom. The Internet of Things could help the fight against Dementia, allowing people to live independently for longer.
Among the projects IoTUK is involved with is a £5.2m scheme, funded by NHS England and run by the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust. The trust has created two living labs at the University of Surrey to explore a variety of connected devices aimed at helping those who live with dementia; these systems could eventually be introduced into the NHS to fight the condition.
Data could be used as a ‘currency’ in healthcare
A survey conducted by the consultancy firm Lansons and Opinium Research on health technology last year revealed that 71% of the respondents would be willing to give their consent and have their data shared for research and useful analytics.
Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist Dame Fiona Caldicott states that Medtech should focus on building trust with the public in relation to how data can be secured, used and shared in the health and social system. She also underlines that clinicians and patients altogether must have the right support system in place to become more engaged about health and care data.
USB stick diagnoses HIV in 30 minutes
A group of scientists have developed a home HIV testing kit that speeds up diagnosis and allows patients to monitor their own treatment. The teams from Imperial College London and DNA Electronics worked together to create the USB stick, which uses a drop of blood to detect HIV.
This device is exceptionally accurate, with a 95% success rate from testing 991 blood samples. The device also drastically reduces the amount of time the testing process takes; current tests can take at least three days, whereas this new device can produce a result within thirty minutes. The device also allows blood streams to regularly monitored, allowing professionals to see if the virus developed a resistance to prescribed drugs.
Gene editing will transform cancer treatment
CRISPR, a gene editing technique, works by inserting or reordering bits of genetic code with remarkable results. While usually used for genetically creating animals, in humans, the technology is being tested to battle cancer by removing patient’s immune cells, editing them and reinserting the cells into the body to hunt the cancer.
Trials are ongoing for the potential treatment, and we could see results by the end of 2021; the technique could also be used to address genetic illnesses of the blood, an eye and the liver.
New skin patch tests sweat to monitor your health
Researchers are developing a sweat patch that can test sweat droplets while users exercise, and send vital data to a companion app as a new way to track health and fitness. For simple fitness purposes, the wearable could give early warning for dehydration; and for the health side of things, in the future, the wearable may be able to screen people for diseases such as diabetes or cystic fibrosis.
While the sweat patches are designed for one time use over a few hours, researchers have envisioned that a version could be developed that would last longer and be able to measure vital signs for a long period of time.