Connected Health at CES: Become the CEO of Your Body

The Consumer Technology Association’s CEO, Gary Shapiro, referred to the digital health revolution as enabling you to “become the CEO of your body” in his opening address at CES 2019. Shapiro was talking about the democratization of health and the ability to deal with the challenges of healthcare in new and innovative ways.

Digital health has been part of the “Technology Trends to Watch” published by CTA just about every year since 2015. Technology is giving patients greater access to their own health data and the ability to monitor the performance of drugs or therapies, thanks to through wearables and other diagnostic solutions such as home blood glucose testers. At the CES Unveiled press event, the traditional innovation curtain raiser of CES, there were numerous medical and well-being products on display, such as NEOFECT with their game-based rehabilitation solution for people with spinal injuries or musculoskeletal disorders. NEOFECT has received a CES Innovation Award.

Digital Therapeutics, or DTx, is just one part of a growing number of healthcare tools enabled by technology. DTx has been used to treat various conditions such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s and prehypertension. Some companies, such as Jabil customer Recovery Force, have FDA approval for the use of DTx as a form of drug-free pain relief. According to Grand View Research Inc., the digital therapeutics market is forecast to grow from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.4 billion by 2025, driven by improving technology and data management, along with the willingness of patients to use and wear technology, underpinned by research showing the effectiveness of technology in improving health outcomes.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) also have a huge role to play. Dr. Christopher Morley, co-founder of MediVis, was a guest Tuesday during Verizon’s keynote on 5G. He went to great lengths to explain the importance of technology in implementing new procedures as well as the training of surgeons. He explained how many critical surgeries, such as relieving pressure due to a bleed in the brain, were largely done by experience and guesswork until now, often with a pretty alarming failure rate. Overlaying 3D images on a heads-up display as well as training on VR has massively simplified this procedure and resulted in a greater success rate and improved outcomes. Connectivity is a big part of our lives, and remote surgery, enabled by technologies such as 5G along with VR, could save lives.

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Artificial Intelligence is ubiquitous at CES again this year, and the potential to diagnose illness and chronic disease could be a game-changer for medicine. IBM, whose CEO  gave Tuesday’s keynote, is actively using Watson to diagnose and advise on treatment. They say, “With IBM’s data, analytics, and AI solutions, clients are transforming their clinical decision-making, accelerating drug research and discovery, optimizing performance and engaging consumers.” As an example, Mayo Clinic’s clinical trial matching project has seen higher enrollment in breast cancer trials through the use of IBM Watson for Clinical Trial Matching.

There’s a lot to come in connected health and in connected well-being, where we’re seeing many new products intended to improve health early and avoid the cost of expensive treatments. Also at CES Unveiled, the importance of sleep was high on the agenda of innovators, with numerous new technology solutions promoted to aid and improve your nighttime slumber. My favorite is the huggable robot from SOMNOX, developed to help you sleep faster and longer and wake up refreshed by slowing down your breathing, focusing your attention and playing soothing sounds.

Many of these solutions require a combination of innovation, design, and industrialization to bring them to market. Some need innovative options such as additive manufacturing, and most need regulatory compliance and approvals. This is where Jabil’s experience in this sector is so valuable. We can build a team around a customer to innovate and industrialize a product as well as helping to steer customers through compliance and approval, be that FDA or any other regulatory process.