Mobile health and telemedicine are important pieces of the puzzle to lower healthcare costs, improve outcomes, and increase the quality of life for millions of people. To gain these benefits, we need devices to get smaller, smarter, and less expensive. And that’s happening.
BeWell Connect is a company that specializes in telehealth products. At CES 2017, the company announced VisioCheck, which is a handheld device that incorporates features on much larger clinical devices. In one 10.5-ounce package, the unit works with connected devices to provide everything required to take a patient’s vital signs:
- an arm-band blood pressure meter;
- a touchless thermometer equipped with ThermoFlash® technology;
- an electrocardiogram (ECG) (5 electrodes, 7 derivations);
- a pulse oximeter; and
- a blood sugar monitor.
Some of these devices can be used for constant monitoring, such as an overnight ECG. It can also take digital pictures that can be recorded, such as wounds or trauma. The company plans to incorporate additional functions in the future, including an electronic stethoscope and a lab-on-a-chip biological analysis laboratory. The system connects to the cloud using WiFi or cellphone data networks. The data can be automatically added to a patient’s electronic medical records (EMRs) and shared with other healthcare professionals. This will allow healthcare workers in the field to consult directly with physicians and specialists, without having to bring the patient to a clinical facility such as a hospital.
The company is pursuing CE and FDA clearance. Initially, the system will be marketed to healthcare systems for purchase price plus a monthly subscription fee, but eventually it will be made available to insurance companies and large employers. Ultimately, one can imagine how economies of scale could bring the costs down in line with a typical smartphone, which could put it within reach for consumers, or for programs that track the health of patients with chronic conditions.