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Thursday, 18 May 2017 06:51

The Latest Health Tech Will Blow Your Mind

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Artificial Intelligence, gamification, interactive wearables, home medical testing – the latest innovations push the boundaries of health tech. From virtual reality pain relief to a finger prick blood test monitor that helps chemotherapy patients manage their treatment, these groundbreaking technologies make a genuine difference to people’s lives – and can even save lives.

As well as creating digital tools and devices to support specific needs and help people get better, there are also radical concepts to keep them healthy in the first place. It begs the question, will we stop needing doctors one day? We’re not quite there yet, but here’s a roundup of some of the most impressive I-can’t-believe-it advancements in the health tech world.

The first contraceptive app

Nordic nuclear physicist Elina Berglund has developed the first app in the world to be approved as a contraceptive. Called Natural Cycles, it calculates daily fertility with an algorithm. Women measure the temperature underneath their tongue every morning and enter the measurement into the app, which then determines whether you’re fertile or not that day, so that you know if you risk pregnancy by having unprotected sex. Natural Cycles has over 150,000 users in 161 countries and a clinical study has proved that using the app is as effective a method of birth control as being on the pill.

Gamifying physio

MIRA Rehab is a platform which turns physical and cognitive exercises, such as the kind you’d receive from a physiotherapist, into video games, making therapy easier to follow at home. It asks patients to complete the recommended movements to progress through each game level – think Candy Crush but you’re actually recovering as you play. The patient’s performance data is tracked, storing all the repetitions, improvements or issues for therapists to adapt and progress treatment accordingly.

Come to your sensewear

The primary purpose of this collection of clothes and accessories is to stimulate and improve awareness of our senses, while training us to use them better. Some sensewear items are designed to mute physical sensations, some to sharpen them. The collection is inspired by the therapies used to assist people affected with autism, who experience symptoms including anxiety, stress and panic attacks. But as many other people also suffer from these conditions, the collection is aimed not only at people with disabilities but also at people with busy, stressful lives. And before you start picturing unflattering scrubs, the project’s designs are attractive and not obviously medical, so they can be worn by anyone and don’t stigmatise a person with a disorder.

The Video Doctor will see you now

Very often the most practical problem for a doctor and patient is one of location: can people actually get to their doctors, or vice versa? And when they do, how much is the cost of that effort? Germany’s health economy has taken a major step towards solving this problem with "Videosprechstunden" (video consultations). As a part of the new e-health law which came into effect in January this year, the video consultation innovation is just one of many measures set to help more people get the help they need when they need it, thus saving lives.

VR pain relief

A Swedish pharmacy chain has created the first virtual reality app that can help patients with pain relief. Happy Place, created by agency Wenderfalck as a joint venture between Sweden's largest private pharmacy, Apotek Hjärtat and VR therapy startup Mimerse, aims to distract patients from their pain with a peaceful, interactive environment. Using a VR headset, a patient is 'transported' to a serene lakeside campground, with optional guided relaxation and soothing music. It’s currently being tested by the public (for example, when getting vaccinations), with the potential to be rolled out further. Who said playing video games is bad for you?

MyAsthma

This app is designed to help people living with asthma understand more about themselves and their condition, and to help to manage it. The asthma control test (ACT) helps people understand how well controlled their asthma is, tracking medicine usage and asthma attacks to help communication between themselves and their healthcare professional. It also connects to the user’s everyday life, learning what triggers their asthma – from location to weather and air quality – and offering useful advice in these situations to help prevent attacks.

Affinity

Low blood counts are a common side-effect of chemotherapy. White blood cells defend the body from infection and low white blood cell counts can result in serious infection and problematic delays to chemotherapy treatment. Affinity is a connected device for people with cancer to monitor their blood cell counts from home in between chemotherapy cycles using a simple finger prick test, automatically sharing results with their clinician. This can help avoid infection and keep treatment on track, and saves patients some of the time and effort of going into hospital for check-ups.

HealthUnlocked

The largest social network for health in the world, HealthUnlocked supports millions of people to improve their health every month through peer support and self-management in over 600 health and wellbeing online communities. HealthUnlocked partners with hundreds of patient advocacy organisations and charities within these communities, providing them with support, expertise and moderation, and offers a range of unique solutions to organisations and businesses, specialising in access to an active health-focused audience. Making Facebook look like a glorious time-waster.

Source: This article was published refinery29.uk By Emma Ledger

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