Chris Netherton

Chris Netherton

Managing Director, Microtest

The pace at which modern IT systems are enabling new innovations in healthcare is staggering – and inspiring.

One of the most exciting aspects of the work that we do here at Microtest is knowing that you are playing a part in a revolution in healthcare that is being led by new technology. I love to keep in touch with the latest innovations that are happening in this field around the world. This always gives me added inspiration for the work that we are doing, and fills me with admiration for the creativity of the people currently working at the forefront of eHealth.

The EU Commission recently published a report summarising some of the ‘work in progress’ being done by the best brains in Europe – experts who are looking at new ways to improve health and wellbeing with the help of IT. These projects were EU funded and the scope and variety of the innovative thinking being done was truly impressive. There were dozens of projects listed in their report, but here are some examples that stood out for me:

Nevermind

This is a system designed to help people suffering from depression. It works via a smartphone and a lightweight sensitized shirt. It predicts the onset of symptoms by gathering data on physical symptoms, body movement and speech. The system then responds by encouraging the patient to alter their activities in a way that can reduce the severity of depressive symptoms.

Selfback

Designed to help patients manage lower back pain. These patients need to follow a regime of physical activity and stretching exercises, but this can be difficult to maintain without feedback and encouragement. Using a smartphone app and an activity-detecting wristband, the system acts as a dedicated ‘coach’, setting personalised goals and giving feedback on their progress.

MyAirCoach

MyAirCoach aims to create a user-friendly tool to help asthma patients monitor and control their disease. Patients are equipped with a compact, sensor-based inhaler that is in continuous communication with a mobile device. This close monitoring increases the patient’s awareness of their medical state and the effectiveness of the treatments they are using.

Elector

A project that uses the latest internet-based technologies to allow doctors to communicate remotely with their patients. This is now allowing doctors to diagnose and treat arthritis patients many miles from their consulting rooms. This saves the patient hours of unnecessary travel time which might otherwise worsen their condition. Once this system has finished its trials, it is expected to be rolled out across the Danish healthcare system and possibly across other European countries in the future.

There are common threads that link together all of these projects. They are focused on prevention rather than cure. They use technology to collect and monitor a wide range of useful information, without the need to visit a surgery. They keep the medical professionals in control of a patient’s treatment, while at the same time reducing some of the burden on the conventional healthcare system. And they create a high level of patient involvement in the monitoring and day to day treatment of their condition – doctor and patient acting as a team and working together to deliver the best outcomes.

At Microtest, our mission is to innovate through technology, so that ultimately we can help improve the quality of people’s lives. It is inspiring to look at the work of our peers who are on the same exciting journey.

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