Imagine a future scenario where patients don’t have to travel long distances or spend too much time talking to their doctors face-to-face, and where doctors can easily access their patients’ daily health data remotely, allowing patients, doctors, health plans and managers to remain seamlessly connected.
Now, consumer electronics makers and scientists are seeing new possibilities for utilizing these tools — smartphones, apps, smartwatches — to help people live healthier lives though digital health treatment and detect problems early on.
The growing trend of consumer digital health devices has contributed to the ongoing expansion of the digital health industry. The global digital health market recorded $145.57 billion in 2021, growing at a 16.9% compound annual growth rate from 2022 to 2028, according to US market research firm Vantage Market Research.
The booming industry empowered more consumers to use health tools to monitor their own health. The health devices go beyond just tracking one’s walking steps, monitoring heart rates and calorie burns during a workout, or counting one’s sleeping hours. The tools can bring in a lot more in the future, potentially helping more people access quality healthcare and prevent costly surgeries and treatment by diagnosing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, or other diseases early on. “Digital health is a cultural transformation that creates a new status quo, where the relationship between a doctor and a patient becomes an equal-level partnership,” said Dr. Bertalan Mesko, Director of The Medical Futurist Institute during an interview.
Dr. Timothy Weadon, Director of Hardware Engineering for Health from OPPO explained such trends to TechNode, saying, “One key aspect of change over the next five years will be bringing in clinically validated metrics and bridging the gap between some of the consumer device industry and some of the real medical industry.”
Weadon also believes that in the future, the telemedicine industry can be well promoted by consumer device companies with its high connectivity between the health data and digital health devices, and those devices will come in all forms, not just wearables. “I think that we’re going to start seeing more contactless care where you can have various monitors that follow your health metrics and quantify with you while having minimal interaction,” he added.
From May to August, OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator calls for innovative proposals from around the world, running regional demo events in Israel and India to find the most promising health companies to work with. In its innovative program, OPPO has selected ten startup teams for the regional roadshow in Tel Aviv, Israel. The candidates’ research areas also reflect the trend of digital health. OPPO saw two companies bringing innovative ideas to personal healthcare through smart wearable devices and the ability to integrate data analytics: Facense and Docdok Health.
Launched in 2015, Facense is an Israeli company that develops smart glasses with head-mounted sensors for continuous signal measurement to monitor metrics like head movement, steps, skin temperature, and blood pressure for applications in diverse health and wellness. For instance, according to the firm’s roadshow slide, its smart glasses can detect potential Covid symptoms based on those sensors.
Docdok Health is a company that provides CE-certified software as a medical device app that delivers data-driven personalized healthcare. The firm has a three-step concept: connecting healthcare providers with their patients as a basis for personalized healthcare, compiling meaningful patient data and running smart analytics to grasp patients’ full picture, and applying the gained insights to improve patient outcomes.
Among the winning teams at the Israel roadshow, OPPO saw a more practical-focused firm, Social Mind, which provides AI and evidence-based interventions for parents with autistic children, transforming autism care with high quality and wide-reaching.
“Digital Health is new and emerging. It needs community effort and engagement with other startups as well as health institutions.” In addition to innovative ideas, Weadon said he’s also looking for teams that bring creative ideas with a passion. “I think a good team is not only a team that works hard or has a good direction, but they need to have passion and motivation. I think it’s really important that people work with passion to develop the next thing.”
OPPO is a strong advocate for proactive and preventive healthcare. It launched OPPO Research Institute Innovation Accelerator in May and has included digital health as one of the topics of the project, and the other is accessible technology, aiming to push the digitalization in health care, making health care services more personalized.
The company plans to achieve its preventive health goals by applying holistic design concepts to its digital health devices. “As an engineer, I think about things as a system,” said Weadon, “the point of the design is to have an impact to really enable and empower our users to have a better life and also to be able to go and enjoy the activities that they have and help them with those devices.”
When it comes to smartwatches, OPPO believes it’s about having real, accurate, clinically meaningful information and creating a full loop experience for users, so they can take that information and make decisions that lead to healthier lifestyles. And the firm builds its devices works in an invisible and nonintrusive way, hoping the users would set their devices and forget them.