Impressive Array of Connected Health Devices at CES 2015

Picture a touchless thermometer that automatically records readings in a smartphone/tablet app.

Add to that picture a family caregiver sending a child’s or senior’s healthcare team a series of reliable temperature readings upon which to base a diagnosis more quickly and confidently to get treatment started.

And that’s just one in a broad array of digital devices we encountered so far at the 2015 International CES that will let many seniors live independently longer and help family caregivers in their roles.

One day’s journey through the exhibition floor – just one of several floors, really – at CES brought into clear focus several of the themes important to seniors and family caregivers.

We have never seen so many connected devices for health, fitness and homes.

Sure, the hall we visited focused on those areas, but it was impressive to see so many companies taking up so much space with real products.

Connected Health Portfolio Offerings

The most impressive part of the day for us was the number of companies displaying a full range of connected health devices.

Where in the past most would have one or two items, there seemed to be recognition consumers would want to use a single app for several devices.

Of course, some firms’ offerings were more encompassing – and more impressive – than others.

One big differentiating feature stood out in our minds about the devices offered, with virtually all the offerings falling into one or the other of these categories.

  • Traditional-looking devices that looked like their non-connected counterparts but with an app added. For example, blood pressure devices that looked like what your might have seen in a healthcare office years ago that are now connected.
  • Modern, sleek looking devices that almost gave one more of a sense of being at home connected via Bluetooth to one’s smartphone rather than in a healthcare office intentionally designed to be part of the home landscape.

Both seemed to provide the same function but one category just looked like it would be more welcome in the home.

Devices with a European Accent

We’re not ready to single out any company’s offerings as our “best in show,” at least not yet.  More research is needed before we can do that. Hopefully our feet will hold up!

No sooner had we been impressed by the offerings of one company for being complete and something we could see both seniors and family caregivers having in their homes, but the next took things one step further.

We expected to be impressed – this is CES, after all – but what caught us off guard was finding some of the most complete packages of nicely designed devices and apps were brought to the show by European companies. We have lots of ideas about why that’s the case, but what really matters is the benefit those devices can provide.

We’ll be following all these devices and companies, as many are not yet available in the US – and some simply not quite ready for sale. That is also not unusual for CES, though, as many companies bring products looking to form alliances or find distributors for their innovations.

What of the Data Generated by Connected Devices?

Just as there are a number of connected health devices at CES, there are many discussions of how to use the personal data those devices will produce.

Yet to be resolved are key issues such as ownership of the data – the person whose data it is or the company whose device generates the data – and whether individuals will have to opt-out from having their data transmitted for further study or if they will have to agree with its use up front.

We do see the data discussion making very positive advances. In the past there were enthusiastic presentations from researchers and companies, laying out the ways data could be used to learn more about health.

Today those discussions went further, addressing how the data could be used to provide actionable information to individuals. For example, going beyond reporting one’s weight is X, blood pressure Y/Z and more vital signs’ status to using what the data says about an individual’s health and needs to recommend actions. One discussion proposed sharing our data from these devices to advance research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s for the benefit of everyone.

Meaning for Seniors and Family Caregivers

It’s one thing to find a lot of shiny, functional devices with impressive apps, but those are just product features. What matters to seniors and their family caregivers are the benefits those devices can provide.

That is, after all, why Senior Care Corner is at CES.

These are just some of the benefits we see these devices providing.

  • Giving seniors the option to live independently longer, with connected devices providing peace of mind about their health.
  • Making healthcare providers more efficient and effective, staying closer to their patients’ health and able to respond more quickly without the need for as many in-office monitoring visits.
  • Helping family caregivers, especially those sandwich generation caregivers providing care for older loved ones and their own children, provide more effective care for their loved ones – and themselves.

In other words, this technology will help seniors live more safely and in better health – just what we as family caregivers strive to achieve.

Stay tuned for even more to come from CES 2015!