Remote patient monitoring expands

Doctors may not make more house calls in the future, but they will monitor far more people who are at home.

For instance, cardiologists at the University of Kansas Hospital announced Monday that they now use a tiny new device to monitor a patient’s heart. It takes about a half minute for a doctor to put the device – smaller than a AAA battery – under a patient’s skin.

Then it wirelessly monitors the heart for up to three years and sends daily reports to the doctor.

Doctors can see what happens when a patient faints or has other problems, making for better diagnosis.

Older heart monitors were much larger, far more difficult to insert and required land lines.

Far more changes are underway.

The Kansas City Star reported this week that dozens of companies have entered the field of monitoring technology. The U.S. market for them went from  $3.9 billion in 2007 to $8.9 billion in 2011, it said.

Among products already on the market is a sleep apnea monitor that patients can put on their head to collect data at home instead of at a sleep clinic, the Star article said.

The Wall Street Journal did a Tuesday article on  soft and pliable sensors under development – “A Future where Bionics Track Your Health.”

Reporter Robert Lee Hotz wrote: “Imagine a digital tattoo that transmits skin temperature; a transparent sensor on a contact lens that tests for glaucoma; a pliable pacemaker wrapped around a beating heart; an implant that controls pain after surgery, then dissolves harmlessly when no longer needed.”

All are under development.

As such things and more go on the market, doctors and patients will monitor key health signs continuously, Hotz reported, not just during office visits.

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