Remote health must expand to meet patient demand, study says

By Leila Hawkins
There must be wider adoption of telehealth and drug delivery to ensure healthcare remains sustainable...

A new report by medical device manufacturers Owen Mumford Pharmaceutical Services, has found that remote healthcare solutions must expand to meet the increased need for acute services and treatment for chronic conditions. 

The study says that services risk being overwhelmed unless more patients are able to manage their own treatment and self-administer medicines at home. 

Demand for healthcare is rising as the population grows and ages. While the World Economic Forum says the world's health workforce will need to double by 2030 to meet demand, the WHO says that globally there is a staff shortfall of 18 million health workers

Connected devices are critical tool to allow clinicians to oversee treatment taking place outside of healthcare practices, remotely accessing data produced by the digital devices. The need for clinicians to manage their patients' conditions remotely will become more pressing as staff shortages grow and healthcare demand increases. 

The report considers the number of different key stakeholders (payers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies and patients) who have influence over the adoption of telehealth and connected drug delivery devices. Each has a different perspective and approach and these need to be understood to gain a full picture of all the different benefits of connected devices, but also the factors that must be taken into consideration to effectively integrate them into healthcare management. For instance, from a patient point of view, comfort during the administration of treatment and ease-of-use are the most important aspects of agreeing to use a device. 

Other issues to consider when introducing connected devices are sustainability and data protection. Drug delivery device designers are under pressure to create products that enable connectivity but also produce minimal waste, especially of electronics that use rare-earth materials. Working in partnership with healthcare authorities and providers, designers must also ensure that devices are interoperable with standard clinical systems, and protected from data breaches.   

George I’ons, Head of Product Strategy & Insight at Owen Mumford Pharmaceutical Services comments: “The current health crisis really drives home the value of enabling self-administration and remote consultations. In the long-term, it is imperative to develop and expand these capabilities and reduce pressure on healthcare systems, especially as 

populations are ageing and non-communicable diseases have become more widespread. 

"Connected devices will be instrumental for encouraging therapy adherence in the home but we thought it important to also highlight the cost and environmental implications of shifting to connected devices, as well as viewpoints from each player in the healthcare chain.”

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