Category Archives: Wearables

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Digital Patient Engagement

Digital Patient Engagement or Participation?

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By 2018 patients should have access to their medical records online. By 2020 this should have evolved into a digital patient engagement solution as health and social care achieves “paperless at the point of care” working practices. But is it just about engagement, or should we be preparing more for active participation and ownership of health concerns and issues.

Digital Transformation of Service Delivery

Most concern I have had shared with me is that the NHS 2020 Digital proposals are still not making adequate plans to exploit the opportunity provided by Internet of Things (IoT), Wearables and Assisted Living technologies at the earliest.

The current focus is being given to resolving internal data integration / flow issues which do need resolving. Acknowledging that there are clinical and information governance concerns as well as care benefits needing to be addressed. But whilst these in the main deliver service quality and improved workflow for people already in the system. Their support for delivery of a transformed and more sustainable service delivery model is limited.

Transformation of the service delivery model and improvement in future sustainability of any significance for health and social care, is largely dependent on the digital patient engagement (or better – participation) and capabilities delivered by technology innovation incorporated to support pro-active participation. The opportunity and benefits potential is significant, when the service delivery model evolves from one that is largely re-active and after the fact, to an alternative and more sustainable pro-active and well-being orientated model.

These benefits are only going to be enhanced by any ability to integrate and exploit technology innovations and automation delivered by IoT, wearables, assisted living and health and care / well-being monitoring innovations and solutions. Adoption of these technologies will increase as they become more capable and with this increase the range of proactive information and data supporting opportunities for further cost saving interventions and / or preventions will also increase.

Data Governance and Management

Consequently the long-term objective of any digital health and care engagement solution, should be about providing the means to help us to live well, and if we are unfortunate enough to have one or more long term chronic conditions or disability, to be empowered to manage our situation as much and as well as we can. It is never though just about us and individuals, we pretty much all care for or are cared by somebody else. So we should be able to gain access to others information too.

All of the above inevitably leads to an explosion of information becoming available, and of the most personal and sensitive kind! Consent, data ownership / management quickly become the most important considerations in any engagement solutions design that needs to be open to accommodate future technology innovations delivering on the pro-active health and well-being opportunity.

It is, however, widely acknowledged that local developments and deployments are not being guided by core common engagement and consent model or universal data flow / integration standards, of concern consequently, the progress to a better model of health and care continues to evolve with massive variations in capability delivered differently across regions.


Until the need for core common standards on data consent, governance and interoperability are fully addressed, then the participation of patients and citizens with the digital solutions will likely remain inhibited, subsequently the opportunity to achieve the £20b of universal benefits from a transformed service delivery model by 2020 will very likely remain an elusive and much less assured target that it could otherwise be.

References and Links

Article produced in response to news item Health wearables firm Fitbit holds talks with NHS published by Digital Health

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Cybathlon 2016

Cybathlon 2016

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Cybathlon, the first Olympic Games for bionic athletes was hosted on 8 October 2016, in Kloten, Switzerland. This world premiere saw 74 international disabled athletes – kitted out with bionic prostheses and brain-computer interfaces – compete with each other at the specially created events. These modern-day cyborgs from 25 different countries competed in 59 different teams from all over the world.

The initiative was launched by Robert Riener,  a professor of sensory-motor systems at ETHZ. “One of the goals of the cybathlon is to encourage researchers and developers to work on robotic technologies that can substantially improve daily life for people with disabilities.

ETH Zurich will host the next Cybathlon in May 2020 in Zurich, Switzerland!

The unique competition for people with disabilities will continue!

The six disciplines from 2016; Brain-Computer Interface Race, FES Bike Race, Powered Arm Prosthesis Race, Powered Leg Prosthesis Race, Powered Exoskeleton Race, Powered Wheelchair Race, will remain in the Cybathlon 2020 programme. The tasks will continue to be relevant to everyday life, but will reflect advances in research. The main goal of the Cybathlon 2020 is to push the development of assistive devices for people with disabilities.

Due to the very successful Cybathlon event in 2016 and the feedback received, the Organising Committee plans an even bigger event, breaking it up into two days. There will also be an attractive secondary programme, wherein the visitors can try out the disciplines for themselves (hands-on demos) and understand the issues surrounding disability in a practical way.



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The Medical Futurist

Healthcare Technologies Shaping the Future of Medicine

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Healthcare technologies that have potential to really shape the way medicine and healthcare is practiced and delivered is explored  by Dr. Bertalan Mesko, PhD, The Medical Futurist, author, keynote speaker, geek doctor with PhD in genomics, science fiction fanatic who shares  his thoughts on his favorite technologies in this video.

More from Dr Mesko can be found at

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3D Printing

3D Printing Electronic Devices For Good Health

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“Today’s 3D printers are great for building plastic stuff, things like toys and musical instruments and even shoes. Some can also print metal objects, like car parts and jewellery and, well, guns. But Jennifer Lewis helped create a new kind of printer, one that can print electronics, such as, ultimately, hearing aids and other wearables.”

New Consumer Opportunities in Healthcare

Advances in 3D printing capabilities combined with affordability, could impact traditional consumer models in a potentially significant and positive way, especially for the public service providers such as those delivering health and social care.

One particular area of activity that could most benefit from this technology is with regard to the utilisation of health monitoring, condition management and assisted living devices, designed to improve the ability to monitor and support patients and their carers in better managing conditions ‘closer to home’.

Presently, most health monitoring and condition management is achieved through tele-health / tele-care (contracted) services, with which a wide variation across the country in the range of services, and technologies available exists. Patients moving from one area to another frequently find services that were available in one, are not available in another.

Procurement of tele-health and tele-care services has also proved to be problematic. As well as being a lengthy and complicated process, contracts are also implemented typically under arrangements within which it is difficult to innovate, change or extend service offerings.

This has had a negative impact on the rate of adoption and utilisation of these services across health and social care service provision, and critically patients, carers and service providers are all missing out on some potentially very significant benefits.

Establishing a Basis for Major Change?

 At eeCultureCulture we believe that the rapidly evolving advances in wearable / assisted living  devices and technologies, in particular those purchased independently by service users,  are already challenging current health and social care delivery models, by the creation of a  demand for a more proactive, rather than reactive service delivery model.

This demand is somewhat exacerbated by the fact that the largest proportion of investment in the devices and technologies is by those classified as ‘the worried well’, individuals with a proactive attitude to their own well-being.

This means that for those responsible for health and social care service provision there is already a user community with which to engage, in the development and proofing of new digital services. One that is most likely willing to help shape new services, not least because they themselves could possibly have a need for these services later in life!

Here in the UK, NHS England has also very recently announced that it intends to establish some new test beds across to trial new technologies, digital services and other innovations. Tony Young, NHS England’s clinical director for innovation, said the work was consistent with NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, highlighting:

‘We are looking for test beds, four to six areas in the NHS with populations of around 1m because we want to be a good place where you can come and test and trial. There will be funding to help make that happen. We are looking for willing clinicians able to test and trial anything.’

Healthy HeartIt is clearly a good thing if those with oversight responsibility for health and social care service provision are beginning to recognise the potential positive benefits Wearable / Internet of Things / Digital Health / Assisted Living technology innovations.

But they are not ahead of the curve, and there are a couple of problems that have already materialised:

  1. The owners of the various technologies have already identified the commercial value of the data their devices produce and are in the process of realising this value. Public service access to this data is likely to come at a cost consequently, and one that might be much more difficult to qualify return on investment from.
  2. The plethora of device and solutions providers is creating a complex multiplicity of data silos and apps with which to engage. This is creating degrees of complexity in the range of interface solutions and methods required to obtain some unified access to information in a cost effective manner.

The combinations of the above have great potential to significantly impede public service realisation of the benefits of new technologies innovations. Critically, the establishment of a common approach on data interoperability standards and informatics systems, that are better capable of utilising the data generated from emerging health and well-being devices becomes something more significantly difficult to achieve.

3D Printing of Electronic Devices – Offers a New Way Forward?

As 3D printing technology advances and innovations in the ability to print electrical circuits matures, the potential inhibitors and barriers to being able to exploit the benefits of the technologies become easier to overcome. Specifically from a public sector perspective, because ownership of the device simplifies the ability to establish data interoperability, integration and accessibility standards and potential for reduced implementation time frames.

It establishes also the basisGymfor health and social care services to move beyond the “worried well” and onto the potential to transform the experience of those patients living currently, with one or more long-term chronic conditions.

Imagine the difference when devices and wearables that can help a patient, their carers and / or health professionals in the management of conditions can be produced, relatively easily, on a as needed basis, straight from 3D printer, maybe even within the hour and dispensed from the local pharmacy?

Building on this scenario, it could be that a device design library, hosting essentially templates ready to be printed, could be centrally managed by the central healthcare standards or management organisations, and 3D printers within service provider organisations would access this library to obtain the information it needed to produce a new device.

Entrepreneurs and innovators working with and within health and social care, could submit new designs and solutions templates to a service overseeing the library, for validating, testing and formal release, into the library to become widely available to all healthcare organisations for use.

A health SDK would set out standards for data interoperability and more e.g. Wifi / Internet connectivity / security protocols etc., data transmissions and most importantly the frameworks addressing how monitoring data is to be incorporated into existing healthcare provider systems, or at least made available in a manner that permitted pro-active use in the management of a patients condition.


In 2011, I co-authored a business paper that examined potentially positive impact of moving to a pro-active service model, especially when this was implemented in a manner that extended support beyond just the patient, and onto the patients personal care circle. Those family and friends that make up the 7 million carers here in the UK alone.

TransformationWearable, IoT / Digital Health / Assisted Living type technology innovations offers great potential to transitioning health and social care service delivery models from being largely re-active, to something significantly more pro-active, with health and well-being concerns being more easily detected and then managed going forward.

These technologies delivering only a modest increase in the ability to better support interventions being made by carers, looking after a small percentage of 15 million patients suffering from one or more long-term chronic conditions, translating into:

  1. reductions in the number of visits to GP’s;
  2. and more importantly less hospital admissions,

Establishes the potential for annual cost savings and efficiency gains in excess of £2.5bn per year across the UK, and this would be just for starters.

Tele-health in particular has not had an easy start here in the UK, mHealth is increasing, but for the moment remains mostly focused on improving clinician access to information on the move. If this does not change then the ambition to deliver significant cost and efficiency savings will remain just an ambition, and most importantly the opportunity to transform the health and social care delivery model will stay out of reach.

3D printing of electronic healthcare devices could open up new ways of working and engaging with patients and importantly their carers, if the service can take ownership and the right degree of control over it, without impeding the ability for innovation to prosper, then the transformation could potentially begin in earnest, with maybe the service could additionally benefit from the licencing revenues device designs used outside of the NHS!

Its still early days but nonetheless, an opportunity worthy perhaps of some investment, of at least time if not money?

Article Links

The Internet of Anything: The 3-D Printer That Can Spit Out Custom Electronics | WIRED.

NHS England may trial equipping patients with wearable tech

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Wearable Technology Show

The Wearable Technology Show 2015

In case you missed it – a video on why this is the biggest event for wearable technology anywhere in the world. Filmed over two days in March 2015 at London’s Excel.



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