How Healthtech Can Support UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #3

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Written by Natalie L. The Daily Escape

Good health and well-being – the United Nation’s 3rd sustainable development goal (SDG) – is a crucial consideration for future generations but as a goal, it isn’t one that’s so easily attained. With ambitious targets of increasing life expectancy and decreasing maternal/ infant death rates universally, this SDG was previously thought of as a near-impossible feat to achieve. However, with recent technological developments—especially within the area of healthtech, this goal has become less far-fetched and perhaps even attainable in the not-so-distant future.

Healthtech, also known as digital health, aims to simplify and improve various healthcare processes. Modern examples of healthtech in action include electronic patient databases, fitness gadgets and mobile health applications, all of which make tracking health records more streamline. In the pursuit of UN’s 3rd SDG, here are 3 key areas of healthcare which healthtech promises to revolutionize. 

Communicable Diseases

Remember the SARs outbreak in 2003? Or the swine flu in 2009? Or even the recent Ebola epidemic? These are some major examples of outbreaks of communicable, or infectious, diseases. In preventing these outbreaks, early identification and containment are key, and thermal cameras are the epitome of how healthtech comes in handy.

Thermal cameras are probably familiar to those who travel often. These cameras make use of infrared rays to screen travellers for fever symptoms, flagging those who carry signs of infection. Recently, minuscule thermal cameras have also been incorporated into smartphone covers. They send information as “heat waves” to mobile applications, which then translate the information into body temperatures. Such technology makes screening for communicable diseases much less obtrusive and more streamlined.

Non-communicable Diseases

In recent years, diabetes, hypertension and many other non-communicable diseases have taken over infectious diseases as the major causes of death in both the developing and developed countries. To combat this, WellteQ has rolled out fitness-tracking devices, wearables and applications to promote health-conscious behaviours in the public, especially office workers. Some of WellteQ’s current efforts include early screening, health education and health-promoting programmes at workplaces. With a humble background but rapidly-expanding venture, WellteQ has paved the way for digital health innovation to tackle metabolic and other non-communicable diseases.

Mental Health

It’s not surprising to hear how more and more employees can reporting higher levels of stress and lower levels of life satisfaction. As the workplace becomes a more competitive environment, many feel the pressure to “up their game” or risk obsolescence. The accumulative effect of this, as well as the weight of other personal commitments, can have a negative impact on sleep and restfulness, both of which have been shown to be key mechanisms in mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. Healthtech monitoring can serve as a powerful “first strike”  when it comes to addressing such issues. Features such as sleep tracking and mindfulness reminders are small but effective means of assisting an individual with identifying and remedying symptoms as they emerge.

Healthcare Records

This millennium, the development of electronic patient records is probably the best gift to doctors, nurses, allied healthcare professionals and most importantly, patients. The streamlining of the patient’s medical records enables healthcare professionals to better understand their patients’ past medical history. In turn, this empowers them to make the most appropriate treatment decisions for patients. This is just one way in which digital health has revolutionised a key process in healthcare delivery; we expect to see even more game-changing healthtech innovations in time to come.

How Healthtech Enlivens The Workplace

With regard to the UN’s SDG #3, successful integration of healthtech can make monitoring health and physical activity a much more streamlined and convenient for both employers and employees. Incentives can be tied to certain milestones as a means of motivation which can translate into tangible benefits for the company; healthy workers are efficient workers after all.

Taking a look at the bigger picture, such technology can also be used to fuel community-minded pursuits. Charity events and other CSR-related projects thrive on connectivity, and healthtech bridges the gap between workforces that are otherwise separated by geographical constraints. By elevating the level of social involvement, workers feel empowered to be more invested in their work. This can also translate into a greater sense of unity, turning what is otherwise a bland and faceless company into a family of sorts.

Healthtech is powerful: it holds great potential to induce significant growth in the healthcare industry through the incorporation of various emerging technologies and platforms, bringing us much closer to attaining UN’s 3rd SDG of good health and well-being. The possibilities with healthtech are endless and the impact, boundless. Who can say what else lies beyond the horizon?

References:
– https://healthinformatics.uic.edu/blog/the-role-of-health-tech-in-stopping-the-spread-of-epidemics/
– https://www.galengrowth.asia/2016/07/13/the-power-of-healthtech-singapore-in-one-view/
– https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/

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