Telehealth is hot, and rightly so. The need for remote healthcare has only been made more urgent by Covid-19 . Arguably though, the pandemic is simply accelerating an existing and justifiable sea change whereby healthcare is moving into the home. During the pandemic our homes are everything to us. Our place of work, our creative space, our relaxation space, our sanctuary or prison.

The lines between the home and office, clinic and lab have all been blurred.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of self-care and managing our own health. In the ‘Prescribing Digital Health’ session, Meredith Barrett from Propeller Health (a ResMed-owned respiratory health business) cited a…

14.2% increase in adherence to asthma medication in the first month of the pandemic due to increased awareness of health and better self-management.

Whether this trend persists beyond the pandemic is to be seen, but our own health is being put back into our hands and our homes, supported by new digital therapeutics and platforms.

The presentations of the big consumer electronics brands were indicative of the blurring of the lines between consumer goods, wellness and traditional healthcare.

Take LG as an example. Their products at CES ranged from portable air purifiers; washing machines with certified asthma friendly, allergen-reducing steam cycles; to vacuum cleaners with Hepa filtration and bactericidal water dispensers in our fridges.

Arguably these products aren’t very interesting in isolation, but when all of these capabilities are connected by a digital platform (LG’s ThinQ) the value proposition of a household appliance transcends functional problem solving and moves into the realm of health-related needs.

LG seems to have embraced the potential value of a true platform play, announcing that ThinQ not only supports pre-emptive maintenance for your LG devices but also provides access to external suppliers of lifestyle-centric services. No, this isn’t an advert for LG as they are not unique amongst their peers; in fact, that’s why I mention their model.

This model raises questions around the implications of this approach for the healthcare industry.

Will medical devices traditionally used in the home now face the same usability expectations as consumer electronics, i.e. connectivity and access to a health-enabling ecosystem of products, services and data?

Enabling traditional healthcare to move into the home is still a major job. Many who have used telehealth during the pandemic will testify that, often, it is nowhere near as useful as going to see a doctor in person. Doctors will say the same about the limitations of a remote consultation, but you can be sure the solutions to bridge that gap are within reach, ranging from novel sensing technologies, to patient coaching, and preventative health solutions.

The question is who is going to own this new opportunity space in the home?

The race is on for traditional healthcare to become more consumer-facing, and for consumer electronics to understand the complexities of medical science and healthcare.

TTP is an independent technology company where scientists and engineers collaborate to invent, design and develop new products and technologies.