March 8, 2022

The Shift from Reactive to Proactive Healthcare

It’s puzzling that healthcare systems continue to prioritize reactive care over proactive care. We’ve all heard the saying “If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” which speaks to a common medical fact: the human body isn’t always the best at alerting you to health problems. Often, when symptoms appear, we are already suffering from a condition that is threatening our health and comfort. With so many statistics pointing to the rise in chronic illness and its prevention, an outdated approach to care endangers the world’s most vulnerable population: the elderly. With the wearable medical device market expected to grow by 26% between 2020 and 2027, there is a clear appetite for proactively monitoring your health. To adequately address the world’s rapidly evolving health demands, we require novel solutions that enable people to make informed healthcare decisions. The healthcare insights that Wi-Fi Sensing-based caregiving solutions can provide empower people to take control of their lives.

A New Healthcare Approach

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that chronic illness accounts for half of the global disease burden, a figure that will only rise as the world’s population ages. Chronic diseases have a unique problem in that they require proactive, planned, and integrated care because they are ongoing and frequently caused by specific, preventable health risks. Patients, in particular, must be active partners in managing their condition rather than passive recipients of care. After all, according to the WHO, at least 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes cases, as well as more than 40% of cancer cases, are preventable. Early detection has been shown to be beneficial: since 1950, there has been a 70% decrease in cervical cancer incidence and deaths in developed countries as a result of the simple Pap test. The bottom line is that most chronic conditions can be mitigated, which necessitates disease prevention strategies aimed at the entire population, particularly those at risk.

Only in recent decades have health organizations begun to agree that a model focused on preventing and delaying disease onset is the best solution to the growing chronic disease crisis. An increasing burden of chronic illness, a rise in multi-morbidity, and a rapidly aging population have spurred proactive healthcare solutions to gain traction. The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has highlighted many of modern healthcare systems’ obvious flaws.

Our previous reliance on the reactive care model stems from a post-World War II “sick care” system that was designed to treat acute illnesses. This approach made sense at the time because the population was largely young and healthy. The emphasis was on patients seeking medical attention for any problems, with a distinct lack of good health promotion or disease prevention. The healthcare solutions that emerged from this model were frequently rushed, delayed, expensive, inefficient, and not patient-centered. With the number of people aged 80 and up expected to triple, rising from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050, this system is antiquated.

Nipping Disease in the Bud

A proactive healthcare model focuses on identifying risk factors to delay the onset of disease. Smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure are the top five preventable health problems. This model fosters a collaborative relationship between physicians and patients to promote and maintain good health. These interactions help health care professionals and those under their care form stronger bonds, which improve healthcare communication and patient experience, lower barriers, and move us closer to value-based care. Patients feel more at ease and informed about their healthcare choices, and proactive healthcare will also save the health system and consumers money in the long run by improving diagnostic criteria, freeing hospital beds, reducing costs by going digital, and increasing access to healthcare professionals. Decentralizing healthcare through connected devices to provide healthcare information while increasing focus on positive health outcomes and empowering citizens with medical knowledge are two solutions to support this transition from reactive to proactive.

Current Solutions Fall Short

Technological solutions that promote proactive healthcare are currently in circulation, such as Fitbit, Life Alert, and smartwatches. Real-time monitoring, symptom treatment, and activity tracking are all common uses for wearable health technology. Traditional systems, however, are frequently set up to only alert users when something bad has happened. Not only is detection then often too late, but the systems must also be installed in advance, which is usually done only after an incident has occurred. Wearables still place a heavy burden on patients and leave room for human error. For your wearable to be effective, you must remember to put it on and charge it every night. This can be particularly difficult for seniors who are dealing with negative associations and stigma associated with aging, as well as general forgetfulness. We require solutions that are customizable, unobtrusive, and so simple to use that they are automatic.

WiFi Motion: Leading a Proactive Healthcare Revolution

Cognitive aims to bridge this gap in healthcare technology. We’re helping not just caregivers and seniors take control of their health monitoring, but everyone. The majority of healthcare tech products on the market today provide reactive monitoring in which users are notified after a critical event, such as a fall. Instead, Cognitive has focused its efforts on creating artificial intelligence that detects patterns and pro-actively monitors health, reducing the likelihood of undetected health issues. We want to inform you before a critical event occurs.

We built our sample eldercare application, Caregiver Aware, to prove that new motion insights can empower users to make informed healthcare decisions. Detecting behavioral changes daily through motion insights allows caregivers to monitor important health indicators and intervene earlier. It keeps caregivers in the know and proactively equips them with information to make better decisions. Did you know that changes in sleep patterns are a precursor to many of the common ailments and illnesses that affect the elderly, such as depression, insomnia, and dementia? Caregivers often struggle with the emotional burden of worrying about their loved one’s well-being. With further insights into their patterns and behavior, whether it’s monitoring activity levels, irregular routines, missed activities, or sleep interruptions, much of that stress can be alleviated. The ever-expanding capabilities of Wi-Fi Sensing provide a base AI platform for critical interventions and other proactive healthcare approaches. We envision the future of eldercare as motion-intelligent spaces powered by an ecosystem of devices that work together to provide you with a more complete picture of your health.

The Future of Healthcare Technology

As the world’s population expands, so will the demand for technology such as WiFi Motion to keep us healthy. Solutions that promote transparency and a patient-first approach while leveraging data sharing, predictive analytics, remote monitoring, and telehealth will be the future of healthcare technology. Internet service providers (ISPs) in particular are poised to assist in bringing this new wave of telehealth to the general public via their service offerings. ISPs can provide additional value to their customers by enabling proactive healthcare as an integral part of their consumers’ lives. With the internet of medical things (IoMT) set to grow by 30% by 2028, Cognitive and ISPs are uniquely positioned to facilitate a shift toward proactive healthcare, thereby improving patient quality of life.