Digital health technologies and the companies that create them have slowly worked their way into our everyday lives. If you’ve ever used a fitness tracker, pedometer, booked a doctor’s appointment, or even just found a doctor on an app, then you’ve used digital health technology first-hand. If you’re wondering which of these companies may turn out to be the most impactful of the past decade, read on for some more insight.
AppliedVR: The New Frontier of Pain Management
One exciting digital health company you may have seen in the news is AppliedVR. AppliedVR delivers virtual reality (VR) therapies for pain management and patients with serious health conditions. Many of us have interacted with VR already, most probably in a video game. The immersive, interactive experience VR provides in games and other entertainment can also be used in a healthcare setting to deliver revolutionary treatments.
By tapping into what the human brains thinks it sees and prompting it to fill in the gaps, VR modulates attention and changes the way the brain perceives physical pain. VR clinical trials in 2016 showed a reduction of around one and a half points on a ten-point pain scale, as reported by Dr. Brenan Spiegel, director of Cedars-Sinai Health Services research. Though these results might not sound like much, a reduction like this is quite significant, especially considering this result is achieved without any pain medication of any kind; the only medical tool used is a VR headset. Given the severity of the opioid abuse crisis, any pain management treatment that doesn’t rely on medication, let alone opiates, holds significant promise. Similarly, any negative side effects associated with medications are no longer a concern with VR pain management therapies.
AppliedVR has applications for use in managing chronic pain, acute pain, and severe anxiety, and a several clinical trials have already been completed or are in progress. The results are compelling, and it seems clear that VR can offer a viable alternative to traditional pain management strategies.
MedCrypt: Cybersecurity and Your Health
With the rise of digital health technology, cybersecurity in healthcare systems is a major issue for healthcare organizations of all sizes. Information stored on any networked computer is inherently at risk of succumbing to data breaches, and MedCrypt is a company that sees this problem and is rising to the forefront with a solution. With the exponential increase of connected medical devices along with the 2018 FDA mandate to include cybersecurity protections in the design of these devices, MedCrypt saw an opportunity. It provides digital security for medical devices using just a few simple lines of code, applicable across a huge variety of devices, including pacemakers and surgical robots.
Concerns over cybersecurity have long centered around the security of a healthcare organization’s network, rather than the devices themselves. However, the sheer size of these networks makes securing them complicated and costly, especially when a simpler solution is available. MedCrypt aims to provide this simple solution, securing data at the level of the device itself. The FDA regulations on medical device security include requirements of proactive monitoring of intrusions, encryption technology, the inclusion of digital signatures, and a Cybersecurity Bill of Materials (CBOM), which tracks all incorporated software and hardware in the device. MedCrypt integrates all these requirements into its product.
ROAM: Synthesizing and Organizing Data
In addition to cybersecurity, data collection and analysis are huge concerns among healthcare organizations. Medical records are increasingly digital, though many healthcare systems did not take data collection into account in the design phase. What this means is that hospitals and other healthcare organizations are now left with a massive influx of data without the means to synthesize, organize, or fully understand what they have. Electronic medical records often don’t produce usable data sets with enough consistency, depth, or structure. This is where ROAM comes in.
ROAM aims to provide healthcare organizations with a way to bring order to unstructured data, derive meaning from data, and improve patient care outcomes by organizing collected information in a useable way. It uses natural language processing technology to quantify language data, which is often unstructured and hard to use, to help healthcare organizations obtain a more comprehensive understanding of patients and providers. With language data, companies can quantify patient mental states, obstacles to care, detailed symptoms and conditions, and other useful information.
Digital Health on the Horizon
These three digital health companies are just a few examples of the applications of digital health technology in the changing healthcare landscape. For instance, companies are also developing innovative solutions that use augmented reality (AR) to assist surgeons during procedures, blockchain to create interoperable electronic health records (EHR), and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide data-driven clinical decision support to physicians. Healthcare companies are on the hook to keep up with patient demands, current treatments, and new cybersecurity risks. These types of digital health companies are on the front lines of providing invaluable resources for hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare providers.