The healthcare industry is changing rapidly. Increased demand from end users for a high quality service and strict scrutiny from government bodies has resulted in strong regulations and mandates. To provide quality healthcare at affordable cost and yet achieve high profitability manufacturers are rapidly changing the structure as well as model of their business. The business model is shifting from remedial to predictive and preventive health and wellness. With smarter drugs, virtual hospitals, and cyber documents, the healthcare industry is poised for a radical change while information technology has been taking the forefront in research and development, diagnostics, and monitoring. Various innovations in the healthcare industry are expected to revolutionize the medicine arena, thereby boosting the investment on healthcare segments including medical imaging, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and life sciences.
Sensors technology is playing a pivotal role in the transformation of healthcare industry and will continue to do so with more advancement expected in future.
The adoption of various types of sensors has led to evolution of advanced diagnostics, treatment, and patient monitoring. The demand for wearable wireless sensors in the personal health monitoring market is increasing, as people are becoming more conscious about their health and showing more interest toward health and fitness. Wearable sensor devices are capable of providing a real-time personalized status of one’s health thus eliminating the need of hospitalization in most cases. This eventually results into lesser healthcare and better quality of life. The advanced sensors help the hospitals and healthcare providers with better disease management and improved quality of healthcare.
Interest in biosensors for clinical applications is growing fast. Doctors and healthcare providers realize the benefits of biosensors. Biosensors are currently being used in point-of-care diagnostics, therapeutics, drug discovery, human genomes, protein detection, and genetic analysis, and are expected to play a strong role in improvement of medical and biological applications. With continuous monitoring capabilities, biosensors are fast becoming ideal prognostic tools. Wearable and implantable biosensors are likely to emerge as the key enablers for device innovation and will be commercialized as prognostic tools. Biosensors can also help in detecting the poisonous and harmful pathogens in food particles that will eventually prevent people from falling sick. Detecting toxic pathogens is quite time consuming and can happen only after the person is infected with the toxic food. Early detection of such toxin pathogens in food can prevent foodborne diseases.
Continuous research and development has resulted in developing highly advanced sensors with potential to change the healthcare experience. Nanosensors comprising nanoparticles or other nanostructures such as carbon nanotubes have keen potential for diagnostics in advanced healthcare. Miniaturized enzymatic biosensors are suitable for medical, environmental, and chemical analysis. The structure of substrates can be modified for real-time health diagnostics. Currently, the structure of substrates for implantable devices is two-dimensional, expensive, and requires specialized processing, thus limiting their usefulness to flat tissue. With further development, including investigation of biocompatibility, the 3D platform has opportunities to monitor organs, wounds, or orthopedic implants, and to be used in implantable devices and wearables. Smart threads are conductive threads dipped in physical and chemical sensing compounds and are connected to wireless electronic circuitry in order to wirelessly transmit to a mobile device and/or PC, creating a flexible platform. These threads could pave the way for enhanced implantable or wearable products for real-time diagnostics of more complex structures and optimized patient specific treatment.
As people worldwide are becoming more conscious of their health and giving importance to healthy living; sensors will continue to play an even bigger role in providing good health and wellness experience. The opportunities for sensors in healthcare are immense in future and shall remain for many years.