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Digital health in spotlight as pandemic shifts tech show focus
Published: Jan 11, 2021 05:38 PM
Digital healthcare is in the spotlight at the tech industry's big event this week amid a pandemic that has highlighted the importance of remote services, with a potentially lasting impact on medical delivery.

Pregnant women can now perform at-home ultrasound scans with a smartphone device on September 28, 2020. Photo: VCG

The Consumer Electronics Show, which is being held online from Monday, will showcase technology for remote patient visits, biosensors and a range of other gadgetry that can help people avoid doctors' offices and waiting rooms. 

Demand for telehealth services was projected to have risen 64 percent in the US alone, according to Frost & Sullivan researchers, underscoring the need for better communications platforms, home monitoring devices and more.

"We have learned that going into waiting rooms with other sick patients can be problematic and people are looking for other ways of getting care," said Samir Qamar, a family physician and founder of MedWand, which is expected to launch its device with 10 diagnostic tools for remote care in 2021.

Qamar, who is speaking at a CES panel, said the pandemic also exposed gaps in telemedicine including a lack of accessible internet for some population segments.

"One of the big problems is the lack of ability to examine patients remotely," Qamar told AFP.

Companies have been developing remote tools that can be used at home, including stethoscopes, otoscopes, heart and blood pressure monitors, but need to show they are highly accurate in order to gain regulatory approval, Qamar noted.

CES exhibitors will be showing devices that monitor the elderly living alone for signs of medical issues, wearables that help with early detection of disease as well as various diagnostic tools. Also on display will be an array of workplace health gadgets, from smart thermometers to air purifiers and sanitizing robots. Another important element for remote medical care is keeping track of health data and using analytics tools.
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