In the medical field, disposable products offer many advantages, including affordability and the elimination of the need to re-sterilize or clean an item for re-use. Now, as the cost of adding connectivity to products falls, companies are increasingly looking at developing single-use, wireless healthcare sensors.
Such sensors can be used in applications including medication tracking, temperature, heart rate, and pulse oximetry, as well as activity/movement/post-surgery orthopedics monitoring that addresses a much larger user base. Disposable connected sensors not only offer the benefit of automatic data collection, says the report, they offer significant potential to provide a cost benefit over existing manpower-intensive methods of collecting patient data.
“Disposables are already a feature of healthcare provision around the globe and medical sensors will have to fit into that world. Efforts already underway promise considerable progress over the next few years,” says Jonathan Collins, Research Director at ABI Research. “Their potential to extend and simplify the benefits of remote patient monitoring will help drive the adoption of both.”
The report considers a range of disposable sensor form factors and designs:
- Wearable sensors, including fitness sensors, that are worn on the skin’s surface
- Embedded disposable sensors that are worn underneath the surface of the skin
- Ingestible disposable sensors that are small enough to be consumed, enabling data to be collected from inside the body
Wireless protocols under consideration for adoption in disposable smart health sensors include Bluetooth, NFC, and proprietary technologies. The report lists a number of both large and small companies that are investing in the development of disposable sensors, including Philips Healthcare (Best, Netherlands), Medtronic (Minneapolis, MN), Qualcomm Life (San Diego, CA), GenTag (Washington, D.C.), Proteus Digital Health (Redwood City, CA).
“What these and many other companies share is an understanding that healthcare workflows and reimbursement payments are already steeped in the broad use of disposable devices,” says Collins. “Between now and 2022 will be a key time for these vendors and others to address technical and ecosystem complexity around disposable sensor connectivity. It will also be the primary time for vendors to gain a foothold in the emerging market.”
Disposable sensor detects wound infections in seconds
Stomach acid-powered ingestible sensor promises medical advances
‘No sweat’ biosensor measures biomarkers even when resting
New ‘biobatteries’ use saline, saliva to operate
Wearable medical devices: Blurring the lines