In the U.S., the elderly population is increasing rapidly. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living, in 2014 the 46.2 million people 65 or older in 2014 made up 14.5 percent of the total population. By 2040, that percentage is expected to grow to 21.7 percent, and the number of older people to reach 98 million by 2060. This growth will result in increased demand for for health care, both at home and in health facilities.

Monitoring the vital signs of people living independently and in care facilities remains the most significant means of spotting incipient health problems before they become more serious. The traditional model is based on taking single measurements at intervals, which can be up to a year apart. The field of photoplethysmography — using optical imagery to illuminate the skin to measure changes in light absorption — could be an answer for many at-home and care settings for continuous vital sign monitoring that can automatically alert healthcare workers when attention is required. The use of video to monitor health has the potential to improve the quality of care while controlling costs.

Oxehealth has developed two video monitoring products, one of which combines photoplethysmography with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to monitor vital signs. Oxecam Video Analytics monitors rooms and sends alerts if no activity is sensed in a prescribed amount of time. The same system can also locate and detect patient activity and is already used in some incarceration and patient monitoring settings. Oxecam Medical Analytics, which is not yet on the market, will be used for real-time, medical grade vital signs. Three distinct steps are involved in the vital sign monitoring program: finding the person; locating the regions of interest (typically on the face and throat), and extracting a raw signal. From that data, the system’s analytics and machine learning can determine whether intervention is required, either immediately or over time.

Just as personal or wearable Health Tech devices will continue to develop, improve, and attain deeper market penetration and more applications, monitoring technologies that employ artificial intelligence have the promise of improving health care, helping to control costs, and allowing people to remain in their homes to live independently for longer times.