Biotech innovations to spur next phase of personalized care –

Another component of more regular monitoring is using sensors for continuous, remote evaluation of blood pressure, breathing, body temperature and other signs, whichideallycould allow providers to intervene when health starts to deteriorate, as opposed to after a patient starts reporting symptoms.

Its not a new idea. But Dr. Steve Xu, medical director at Northwestern Universitys Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, said he envisions a world where patients could one day have implanted sensors that not only monitor vital signs but also provide automated health insightstransforming healthcare into a system where patients are constantly provided feedback on their health status.

He said he could see that proliferating in the next 20 years, and doesnt think an implantable sensor would be an insurmountable privacy concern for patients. Implantable devices are already being used in healthcare, including birth-control implants and nerve stimulators. However, it would be on companies to provide evidence that these sensors are actually helpful for patient health and transparency into how the data is being used.

Xus research at Northwestern involves working on wearable sensors for pediatric care, such as to better monitor newborns who are born prematurely. Already, one-third of consumers report owning a wearable device to help track their health, according to a 2019 report from the Stanford Medicine Center for Digital Health and early-stage digital health venture fund Rock Health. While most of those devices track more general exercise, sleep and heart rate, and arent used for medical care, they could point to patient interest and comfort with monitoring health data.

And health systems have been looking at the space more closely too. To lay the groundwork for better remote monitoring of patients, such as after discharge, UCHealth in Colorado partnered with startup BioIntelliSense to help develop its health-monitoring patch, as well as to support the company as it sought regulatory clearance. About the size of a Band-Aid, the patch continuously tracks metrics like heart rate, skin temperature and respiratory rate and sends the data back to a provider.

BioIntelliSense earned U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for the device earlier this year.

Xu said he expects to see a tipping point within the next decade when almost everyone will collect data with wearable devices, sensors or patches, which can be linked with medical records.

He points to how in the 1980s, it was difficult to imagine everyone would have a cellphone. Flip phones in the mid-2000s provided a shift in perspectiveMotorola came out with the Razr flip phone, and that was a turning point, where things were really coolbut it wasnt until the BlackBerry and Apples iPhone that adoption really took off.

While wearables available today have shown promise for fitness tracking and some limited medical functions like conducting electrocardiograms, theres still opportunities for what the future is, Xu said, which developers will continue to build on. I think these wearables are probably at the flip-phone stage, he added.

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Biotech innovations to spur next phase of personalized care -

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