Could the connected home be the heart health clinic of the future?

The connected home is moving ever closer to realization and in the medical sector it is offering a wealth of opportunity.

Especially in the area of heart health; a complex health space where small behavioral changes can have a significant impact in the long term. The connected home offers healthcare professionals and patients alike a 24/7 monitoring opportunity with far more complex data than we have previously been exposed to. The data could allow us to interrogate subtle data changes that may lead to prevention and early intervention.

So what value lies in this 24/7 view of the patient and how does this work in the home day to day?

24 hours in the heart health connected home

Imagine that when you wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom and look in the mirror, it can tell you when you haven’t had enough sleep, and with that one glance, already know a factor relating to your heart health. For example, Xanthomas are fatty deposits that build up under the skin and can be seen on the eyelids. These are a result of high-fat levels in the blood and have been linked to heart disease. Installing a connected camera system to the bathroom mirror could monitor such changes.

In the foreseeable future, the mirror could take a breath analysis and identify changes that may relate to heart health. This, coupled with the built-in camera, could observe your chest movement and analyze changes in your lung function over time. It can see that the 30-minutes of exercise you have started to do each day are beginning to show improvements in your lung capacity. Within minutes of waking up, multiple data points have already been collected.

You shower and brush your teeth and the toothbrush detects the presence of blood, indicating gum disease but can also be linked to heart health due to increased inflammation in the body. Is this a one off bleed due to hard brushing or a growing daily trend? Or perhaps the bleeding is decreasing and showing improvements in inflammation.

Next, you decide to weigh yourself and the scales are creeping downwards as you continue to make healthy life choices. The scales have an integrated sensor to measure potential swelling in your ankles and legs. By monitoring these changes, this technology can help manage type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, and heart rate – something your heart will definitely appreciate!

It’s time for breakfast. When you open the fridge for the milk, it begins to count the number of times it has been opened that day. In the near future we anticipate that the fridge will know what has been removed – innovations that companies including Amazon have been working on. You switch on the kettle and with that press of the button vital signs, such as heart rate and SPO2 (oxygen in the blood) are recorded.

Throughout the day you carry out your routine and the connected home continues to track your activity, food and drinks intake, all of which is adding valuable daily data. For example, your afternoon nap might last a little longer than before and your bathroom visits are getting more regular. All of this is analyzed alongside other data points collected.

 

These personal health data points can be amalgamated and analyzed alongside the intelligence from your online grocery shop to suggest healthy recipes for your meals. The recipes can be pushed to an app that encourages healthy decisions.

With the change in weather outside, you decide to opt for a night in front of the TV. During the advert break, a message comes on screen saying that you have been viewing for an hour and advises you to make a cup of tea or to walk up and down the stairs to ensure you are moving. This is really important for blood flow and general wellbeing.

The lights dim in the evening to bring your body to a progressive sleep state a bit earlier than usual. This is due to data from the bathroom mirror this morning indicating a lack of sleep. Sensors embedded in the mattress will measure how restful your night’s sleep is, the percentage of the night you snore (or not!), and the number of times you went to the bathroom, all helping to monitor and improve your heart health.

The connected home can turn your normal daily routine into a cardiac prevention and early diagnosis data center.

Could the bathroom be the central hub in this vision of a connected heart health clinic?

With this vision of the connected home, one thing stands out – the bathroom has a lot of potential when it comes to assessing heart health.

There are barriers to overcome, one of them is convincing people to adopt this level of connected monitoring technology in their homes. However, according to the 2017 Future Health Index research, 81% of healthcare professionals and 74% of the general population surveyed say connected care technology is important to improving home care services. These figures may continue to rise as people become more comfortable with personal monitoring devices such as fitness bands as well as the host of increasingly popular smart home devices coming to market.

The connected home offers healthcare professionals and patients an enormous opportunity that is yet to be fully accomplished. However, consumer technology is driving innovation forward and we are seeing more devices coming to a realization that enables this vision to become a reality. Let’s hope that in 10–years’ time we are living in such connected homes and that as the technology continues to progress, it empowers us to take better care of our hearts.


Collette Johnson

About the author

Collette Johnson

Collette has worked in healthcare innovation for over 10 years, with her focus on helping world leading organizations and highly innovative start-ups with their strategic positioning relating to new product development. She has also worked with the NHS bringing together commercial and clinical organizations for successful product adoption, most notably in the digital health space. Collette speaks and chairs at global conferences and is a frequent thought leader in the press on healthcare innovation. She sits on advisory boards for healthcare at IET and Knowledge Transfer Networks and is passionate about driving healthcare technology forward for patient benefit.


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