Health Tech 2013: RoboTherapists, Beaming Doctors & Wacky Health Wearables

This year saw some major developments in health tech, some interesting and others downright wacky. This is a summary of the 2013 highlights.

Robots to Replace Doctors

The medical community was outraged last year because of a comment made by Vinod Khosla, an accomplished Silicon Valley investor, that 80% of doctors would be replaced by technology by 2025. Apparently he still stands by this, and believes that in the future, new technologies will take a lot of the guesswork out of medicine and assist doctors in various functions, including surgery, diagnosis and patient monitoring.

Doctors ‘Beamed Up’ by Robots

Khosla’s comments might have annoyed some medical practitioners but he is definitely onto something. In fact, his prophecy is already starting to come true. In some hospitals across the US, remote robots are allowing physicians to ‘beam’ themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice. One patient said she felt a bit spoiled for wanting to see the doctor in person.

Wacky Health Wearables

Just when you thought this year couldn’t get any wackier, Microsoft announced it has entered the lingerie market. The tech giant has been working on a smart bra that monitors a woman’s mood in an attempt to prevent emotional overeating. Basically, the bra could determine when a wearer is stressed and likely to look to food for relief. Time will tell whether this research project will take off, but rest assured, Microsoft is not planning to leave men out of the equation.

If emotional bras aren’t enough, there is even a ‘SmartWig’ that can collect information such as blood pressure. It might sound crazy, but we are now living in a world where people talk to their watches and wear smart rings.  

Visit a Web Psychiatrist

Getting up the courage to talk to a psychiatrist isn’t easy, but now it might be. TalkSession is a new startup website that connects patients to mental health care providers. The aim is to allow patients to search for therapists that match several criteria, such as location, insurance and specialty. With people often Googling their health symptoms, this seems like the next natural step.

Consumerization of healthcare

As patients continue to become more empowered about their health, we are seeing more consumer gadgets enter the healthcare space. Increasing volumes of patients may want to see their doctors prescribe apps but how many mHealth apps are actually useful? A study this year analyzed more than 43,000 healthcare apps available on the Apple iTunes app store and found the majority to have limited use and simple functionality. There is also a lack of evidence of the clinical benefits of the apps. Only time will tell how heavily involved medical practitioners get in the development of these apps.

After a long wait, the FDA finally issued some guidance regarding mobile medical apps. The guidance has been received with some mixed opinions, but at least offers some clarification in the unclear world of medical apps.

There were a lot of developments in the world of technology and healthcare in 2013, what do you think 2014 will bring? Drop Ayesha Salim a note if you’d like to share your views.


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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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