Healthcare Informatics Spend in the UK to hit £3 Billion by 2016

Written by IHT Staff writer.

According to market research firm Ovum, healthcare ICT spend will hit the £3 Billion mark by 2016, a growth of over 12% from figures in 2010. Aging population, increased healthcare requirements and the ongoing drive to slash costs in NHS operating costs are the key driving factors in this forecast. “The UK will experience the strongest growth over the forecast period of any market we looked at,” Cornelia Wels-Maug, Ovum’s healthcare technology analyst, said. “A key driver for the investment is the urgent need to do more with less, owing to the ever-increasing number of patients with chronic illnesses as the population lives longer.

The cost of delivering a healthcare service that doesn’t compromise on quality is spiraling out of control. Investments in IT are part of the solution,” she added. Ovum forecasts telehealth and healthcare information exchanges will be areas in the UK healthcare technology and IT industry that will see growth although electronic healthcare records and digital imaging technologies will continue as the main area for healthcare ICT investment in the UK.

Healthcare Informatics Spend in the UK to hit £3 Billion by 2016

Electronic tattoo ‘could revolutionise patient monitoring’

By James Gallagher

Health reporter, BBC News

Sensor in a tattoo

An “electronic tattoo” could herald a revolution in the way patients are monitored and provide a breakthrough in computer gaming, say US scientists.

They used the device, which is thinner than a human hair, to monitor the heart and brain, according to a study in the journal Science.

The sensor attaches to human skin just like a temporary tattoo and can move, wrinkle and stretch without breaking.

Researchers hope it could replace bulky equipment currently used in hospitals.

A mass of cables, wires, gel-coated sticky pads and monitors are currently needed to keep track of a patient’s vital signs.

Scientists say this can be “distressing”, such as when a patient with heart problems has to wear a bulky monitor for a month “in order to capture abnormal but rare cardiac events”.

Solar cells

With the tattoo, all the electronic parts are built out of wavy, snake-like components, which mean they can cope with being stretched and squeezed.

There are also tiny solar cells which can generate power or get energy from electromagnetic radiation.

The device is small, less than 50 micrometres thick – less than the diameter of a human hair.

The sensor is mounted on to a water-soluble sheet of plastic, so is attached to the body by brushing with water, just like a temporary tattoo.

It sticks on due to weak forces of attraction between the skin and a polyester layer at the base of the sensor, which is the same force which sticks geckos to walls.

In the study, the tattoo was used to measure electrical activity in the leg, heart and brain. It found that the “measurements agree remarkably well” with those taken by traditional methods.

Skin electronics The sensor moves with the skin

Researchers believe the technology could be used to replace traditional wires and cables.

Smaller, less invasive, sensors could be especially useful for monitoring premature babies or for studying patients with sleep apnoea without them wearing wires through the night, researchers say.

Prof Todd Coleman, from the University of Illinois, said: “If we want to understand brain function in a natural environment, that’s completely incompatible with studies in a laboratory.

“The best way to do this is to record neural signals in natural settings, with devices that are invisible to the user.”

The device was worn for up to 24 hours without loss of function or skin irritation.

However, there are problems with longer-term use, as the skin constantly produces new cells, while those at the surface die and are brushed off, meaning a new sensor would need to be attached at least every fortnight.

Read more about this on the BBC site