In the healthcare industry, innovation is more than a buzzword. The right innovations in the right hands at the right time can, in fact, ensure life triumphs over death. From high-tech sensors and drones to bacteria-quashing light bulbs, technological advances are pushing healthcare into new, exciting directions, providing heightened levels of care and improving quality of life.
Consider these promising developments:
1. Ingestible Sensors
While wearable sensors continue to gain mainstream appeal, ingestible sensors could have a sizeable impact on healthcare and digital medicine.
Health systems are starting to implement ingestible sensors in patients to record medication adherence, which is one of the key components of improved health.1 The sensor—powered by gastric fluids and about the size of a grain of sand—communicates with a skin patch, which captures the medication and the time it was ingested along with personalized data such as heart rate, activity, and rest. This information is then relayed to a mobile app, where the data can be shared with healthcare professionals to help drive medication compliance and personalized treatment.
For individuals in remote locations or underserved communities, easy access to healthcare providers can be scarce or nonexistent. However, continued advances in telehealth are making remote point-of-care more accessible, more dynamic, and more personable than ever. Telehealth services, for example, offer video conferencing for live consultations, built-in dashboards for in-field data capture and analysis, and hardware to ensure orderly, coherent interaction between patients and healthcare providers.
While drones are known for delivering frozen yogurt and burritos, their most meaningful impact could come in the healthcare space. Consider these very real possibilities:
- In remote areas, drones can deliver critical medical supplies such as blood or vaccines to enable treatment.
- Following a natural disaster, drones can distribute in-demand medical supplies to first responders or victims.
- On a medical campus, drones can transport medicine, blood, lab samples, or even organs from one unit to another to expedite care.
- A researcher at the University of Illinois, meanwhile, aims to help elderly patients age in place by testing the use of small drones with manipulator arms to complete simple daily tasks such as bringing medication or cleaning a spill.2
4. Bacteria-killing Light
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are the most frequent adverse event in healthcare delivery worldwide.3 Tech innovation is minimizing this problem.
Light fixtures providing continuous environmental disinfection technology are helping hospitals improve their infection-prevention efforts. One solution uses safe, 405nm visible light that reflects off walls as well as hard and soft surfaces to penetrate harmful bacteria in a given area and reduce bacteria up to 70 percent.4
5. Remote Patient Monitoring
With remote monitoring programs, digital technologies collect key patient health data such as vital signs, heart rate, and blood pressure, and communicate the information to healthcare professionals.
With such key data in professionals’ hands, health problems can be detected earlier, which can reduce hospitalizations and prevent manageable problems from becoming more severe ailments. Remote monitoring can improve patient outcomes and access to care, while also reducing costs—a key concern among the U.S. populace and healthcare systems alike.
 Forbes, Barton Health First To Offer New Digital Medicine Developed By Proteus Digital Health
 Inside Unmanned Systems, Drones Deliver Healthcare
 World Health Organization, Health Care-Associated Infections Fact Sheet
 Kenosha News, Bacteria-killing lights show promise