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What is Telehealth? The at-home tech revolutionising medical care

Medical professionals have had to embrace a lot of new technology over the last 12 months (Credits: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Telehealth is in the spotlight in a big way thanks to the pandemic.

With many swapping face-to-face appointments for virtual consultations and digital triage platforms such as Babylon and Livi, being able to monitor vitals from home hasn’t just been convenient for doctors, it’s been essential.

That explains why 80 per cent of UK clinicians say their organisations have increased the adoption of digital technologies to provide more effective ways of engaging with patients.

‘The pandemic has unwittingly removed a major obstacle in the adoption of digital technologies — a reluctance of clinicians and patients to change the way they interact,’ says Karen Taylor, director for Deloitte’s Centre for Health Solutions.

‘Now both sides can see the benefits of digital healthcare, we would expect technology-enabled diagnosis and treatment to be a central part of the new normal, freeing up resources and reducing waiting times.’

It’s a radically different model of care — and news this week that a simple skin-swab test to detect Parkinson’s is ‘in sight’ shows how user-friendly game-changing medical tech can be.

If the next doctor-patient devices are anything to go by, waiting rooms could be a thing of the past.


The iSyncWave headset

Not to be mistaken for a prop from the Tron movie, the iSyncWave is a brain-mapping helmet that’s designed for detecting early signs of Alzheimer’s dementia.

It’s an alternative to an EEG machine, which is typically used in doctor’s offices and hospitals to detect electrical activity in the brain and diagnose neurological disorders.

The main difference is that, unlike traditional EEGs (which require adhesive electrode patches attached to your scalp or electrode helmets filled with gel), iSyncWave has been designed to perch on top of the head to enable it to provide a reading on the electrical activity in the brain.

It also provides LED therapy treatments for a range of neurological conditions, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, ADHD, depression and other neurological issues.

It’s still in the development stage but its potential for simplifying brain monitoring is huge.


The HealthyU cardiac monitoring system

This square device from HD Medical crams in a lot of tech to monitor your cardiac goings on.

Specifically, we’re talking about a seven-lead ECG without wires, a temperature sensor, a pulse oximeter, a stethoscope, a heart-rate monitor and a blood-pressure sensor — and all in a device that’s no bigger than a GoPro.

It’s also easy to use: users hold the device to their chest, resting their fingers on the sensors to get an ECG reading, alongside other vital signs.

Info collected is then sent to a patient’s doctor via a dedicated platform. It’s currently seeking FDA approval in the US.

Omron VitalSight

The Omron VitalSight at-home testing kit

Omron wants to make taking your blood pressure at home easier. Its VitalSight connected blood pressure monitoring system is a preconfigured kit complete with a connected blood pressure cuff, a scale and a secure modem-equipped data hub that automatically uploads readings to your doctor’s electronic medical records system.

A doctor could set notifications for individual patient blood pressure thresholds or communicate with a patient to recommend behaviour changes.

It’s already had a seal of approval too — Omron is joining forces with the NHS to accelerate the rollout of remote patient-monitoring systems.


The Flō hand-held device

Spare a thought for hayfever sufferers dreading the smell of freshly cut grass. Sniffly salvation is on the way, though.

Fluo Labs’ Flō is a small hand-held device designed to stop your body from releasing histamines when pollen, dust and other allergens enter it. Best of all, it does it without you needing to pop an allergy pill.

Witchcraft, you say? Not quite. Once you insert Flō into each nostril for ten seconds, it uses red and NIR (Near Infrared) light at a precise balance of wavelength, dosage, power and pulse structure to prevent the release of histamines and reduce inflammation.

It’s currently going through the FDA approval process to be sold over the counter — release is slated for late 2021.

Valencell sensors

The Valencell blood-pressure sensor

Optical heart-rate company Valencell says it’s cracked blood pressure monitoring from the wrist that boasts the same accuracy as traditional arm cuffs.

Valencell says it can use its HR sensors to take blood pressure readings from the wrist or finger using a technique called photoplethysmography.

By measuring the nature of light reflected back from your skin as blood courses beneath it, the sensors go to work, measuring blood pressure indirectly.

The interesting bit is these sensors have the potential to be embedded in gadgets you might wear daily. It’s still subject to regulatory approval from the FDA but we’re one step closer to smartwatches and fitness trackers monitoring blood pressure.

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.

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