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Next-gen health devices opens new market opportunity

Posted: 30 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:health? wellness? device manufacturers?

Health and wellness devices are becoming popular among consumers. This growing appetite for health and wellness devices, according to IBM Corp., gives an opportunity for device manufacturers to tap into a market that has barely been touched.

IBM's study, "The Future of Connected Health Devices," shows that the growing demand for devices is driven by "information seekers." The study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value said information seekers increasingly turn to technology to help manage health-related challenges to reach their wellness goals.

"People want to take a more active role in managing their healthcareboth to reduce costs and improve their quality of life," said Katherine Holland, general manager of life sciences at IBM. "Device makers have a great opportunity to fulfill this needbut to be successful, they must partner to ensure they have the blend of skills, consumer understanding and healthcare expertise," she added.

Whether connected online, to a PC, gaming device, tablet or smartphone, wellness devices will become ubiquitous in the future, especially in caring for the sick, the elderly and those in need of medical assistance, but also for healthier people who want to achieve wellness goals, the study finds. In the study, IBM lists possible wellness device innovations, which could change how people live, exercise and interact with their healthcare provider. IBM scientists and healthcare experts envision a number of new devices to help individuals with the following challenges:

A new generation of devices for dieting will also measure movement, speed and intensity. These devices will engage users if they aren't moving enough or provide a movement task to accomplish. Relying on the help of friends, family and social networks, the devices could alert others to elicit motivation, encouragement or even to "tell on them" to hold them accountable to a friend. These devices will be integrated into tools for monitoring medication adherence, blood pressure and weight for a more complete picture of the user's health.

Elder Care
In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million people have Alzheimer's disease. In the United Kingdom, two-thirds of people with dementia live outside of a care facility. For patients suffering from memory loss or impairment, devices for establishing location and compliance with medication regimes, connected to a digital pill box will be commonly used. These devices will pinpoint the location of both the user as well as the caregiver, to give the patient peace of mind, providing medication reminders and direct access to caregiver support.

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