The future of diagnostic wearables?

 

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The University of Tokyo has recently started to develop a new generation of wearable diagnostics. The hypoallergenic electronic sensor wearables are designed to monitor health indicators without being invasive or causing any discomfort.

The electronic sensors are made up of breathable nanoscale meshes that attach directly to the skin to produce accurate and precise readings of heart rate and other health indicators. Japanese scientists believe the new wearables can be worn for up to one week, without causing any irritation. However, if devices are worn over a longer period it is thought they may be deemed unsafe, as they prevent breathability and block airflow causing irritation and inflammation.

“We learned that devices that can be worn for a week or longer for continuous monitoring were needed for practical use in medical and sports applications” says Professor Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering.

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The device can be applied by spraying a small amount of water, which dissolves PVA nanofibres to allow it to stick to the skin. It is designed to fit curvilinear surfaces of skin making it ideal to apply to sweat pores and index fingers.

Scientists are hopeful this is the beginning of a new chapter for wearable diagnostics and hope that it will be possible to measure health indicators without causing stress or discomfort to the user. The device is thought to not only be the future for medical diagnostics, but also have applications for sports technology.

 

 

App helps cancer patients extend life

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Scientists have discovered a new medical intervention that can extend the lives of cancer sufferers by a number of months. The discovery is not a novel drug or therapy, it is an app. Patients who reported their symptoms via a tablet survived for five months longer than those who did not, according to a large study which was presented at the world’s biggest oncology meeting yesterday.

The research highlighted the role that cheap and simple tech can play in providing healthcare at a time when drug makers are suffering controversy for the ever-rising cost of prescribed medicines.

Patients were told to report 12 symptoms such as sleeping and breathing difficulties using the app, which was referred to as an electronic patient report system or ePro. If patients took a turn for the worse, an automatic push notification was sent to alert a doctor or nurse. “The system proactively monitored symptoms, so that the care team was able to intervene earlier and catch things before they became more severe,” said Dr Ethan Basch, an oncologist and professor at the University of North Carolina, who led the trial.

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Dr Basch said patients using the app were able to stay on chemotherapy “for substantially longer” than others because they were less likely to turn up to the hospital in a weak state and as a repercussion, not be strong enough to handle the punishing treatment. The ePro patients were also less likely to be admitted to hospital, meaning they did not become bed-bound or acquire an infection like C. difficile while on the ward.

Oncologists have long believed that ePro apps can improve a person’s quality of life, but this is the first time that is has been proven to boost survival in a large number of patients with a broad and varied range of cancers. Patients who used the purpose-built app typically survived for 31 months versus 26 months for those who did not, according to the research, which was unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (Asco).

#NHOTC17: Day 1

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Our 28th European OTC INSIGHT conference, centred on the theme of Making the Most of New Technology, took place in Munich last week. Following Nicholas’ annual overview of the global OTC market, and what’s ahead, there was a packed schedule of presentations on topics including the future of digital OTC and what we see technology providers delivering now and in the future.

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Nicholas Hall kicked off proceedings on Day 1

Richard Learwood of PGT Healthcare got our brains into gear on the morning of Day 1 with a thought-provoking discussion on accelerating growth in consumer healthcare, and this was shortly followed by Dr Dennis Ballwieser, of Wort & Bild, who shed some light on the future of partnerships in digital publishing and how digital is affecting the print industry in healthcare.

Leading into the lunch session, Infirst Healthcare’s Manfred Scheske led a thought-provoking session, which showed us how our industry is extremely focused on Strategic Growth and Share Grab, but needs to step up its ambition to shape market conditions and to grow markets. He addressed the increasing number of line extensions, which have successfully grown many big OTC brands, but less and less new products offer meaningful news, and patients and pharmacists and the general public are increasingly irritated and confused by the tidal wave of ‘plus’, ‘forte’, ‘extra’, ‘ultra’, ‘max’, ‘advance’, ‘extra advance’, ‘rapid’, ‘express’, etc.” Certainly food for the mind before we ate our lunch!

After lunch, Alison Hartley from Sanofi got the conference back into swing with a presentation on Digital Excellence, explaining that content is key but distribution is queen! Alison also delved into the many ways that digital has enabled us to do things we wouldn’t have been able to do without digital media.

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Alison Hartley focuses on Digital Excellence in OTC

Our very own Monica Feldman also enlightened us on e-connecting the revenue dots, explaining that VIRAL = REVENUE and to have this you must have humour, heart, brains and guts. Trevor Gore of Maestro Consulting took to the stage as our final speaker on Day 1, alongside David Taylor, leading us to contemplate whether technology is helping us or making us addicts? Trevor certainly lifted spirits with his stand up presenting style!

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Our Global Director of Client Services, Monica Feldman

Look out for more Dashboard blog content coming soon, including Day 2 of the conference and the Nicholas Hall Awards. As an official announcement now the conference has ended, we hope to see you next year in… Barcelona, for our 29th European OTC conference #NHOTC18.

Are wearables wearing thin?

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The wearables market has had a rollercoaster ride in recent months. This time a year ago analysts were penning multi-billion dollar forecasts for the developers of health trackers and smartwatches. Apple was setting the stakes high, brazenly selling a gold edition of the Apple Watch for US$10,000.

More recently though, once popular fitness tracker brand, Jawbone, confirmed to TechCrunch that it would be leaving the consumer market in order to focus on healthcare providers. Microsoft have also removed its Fitness Band from its online store (although it is still available on Amazon); most significantly they will no longer provide the Band developer kits.

Fitbit remains a leading brand name, and is still very much the heart of the fitness tracker revolution. Fitbit recently acquired one of its rivals, Pebble Watch. However, on the downside, it was reported that the company were making staff cuts and founder James Park said the firm had experienced “softer than expected” sales during the 2016 Christmas period.

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Numerous devices claim to measure heart rate, sleep activity and count calories. Counting steps is seemingly the most common use for wearable devices, which has been edifying for many in terms of daily exercise expectations. Recently, though, experts have questioned whether the golden goal of walking 10,000 steps a day is actually worthwhile, and a US study concluded that health trackers did not aid weight loss.

Mr Bryant from Futuresource says many wearables aren’t yet independent enough and rely on being tethered to a smartphone, or replicate functionality, such as step counting, that the handset already has. However, Mr Bryant believes that while wearables may be down, they are not yet out.

“We feel the slowdown is temporary and the market will accelerate this year,” he said. He thinks that improved power, appearance, and mobile pay options could give them a boost alongside a maturing user group.

Wearable Devices will be one of many themes explored at our 28th Annual OTC INSIGHT European Conference & Action Workshop, being held in Munich in just over a month! The wider conference will focus on the theme of Making the Most of New Technology. To reserve one of our final few places, please contact lianne.hill@NicholasHall.com