Connected health: five women innovators bringing healthcare to our fingertips

There once was a time when healthcare happened in the doctor’s clinic, in pharmacies, in hospitals. Now a new era of connected health allows patients to receive care outside of traditional settings: to get diagnoses at home, to receive treatment at work. Apps, devices and wireless technology are making healthcare portable. From smart jewelry for monitoring lifestyle to huggable robots helping children in hospital, DiscovHER picks five of the most inspired innovations from women in connected health.

Talk from the heart: a wireless cellphone EKG

One wireless patch, a cellphone and you can get your own electrocardiogram reading wherever you are. Invented by student Catherine Wong, aged just 17, the prototype amplifies the tiny electrical pulses created by the heartbeat and sends the data to your cell. The device could be useful for people in developing countries who may not have access to a clinic but who do have cellphones. Or to send vital heart rate information on ahead to a hospital before the heart attack patient arrives.

“It connects patients to doctors so anyone, anywhere can get the healthcare that they need,” says Wong.

DIY dialysis: an at-home machine for kidney patients

When she discovered that 90% of patients living in India and Pakistan cannot afford life-saving dialysis, teenager Anya Pogharian invented a DIY version. For kidney patients, dialysis is the life-saving yet time-consuming procedure that requires them to go into hospital. Not only can Pogharian’s prototype be used at home but it’s also considerably cheaper. 

“A typical dialysis machine costs $30,000 and the value of my high school science project is $500,” she explains.

Robot hugs: A huggable robot for sick children in hospital

When children are ill, being in a strange hospital surrounded by strangers adds to an already stressful time. Since human resources are stretched, huggable robots may have a role to play in helping sick children through recovery. Working at MIT’s Personal Robots Group, research specialist Sooyeon Jeong is running a clinical research study at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her research has found behavioral differences between healthy and sick children during child-robot interaction. Children who are ill really seem to benefit from the robot’s company. The two children with medical conditions showed more caring behaviors to the robot - Huggable than the two healthy children did. And ill children responded with greater emotion when playtime with Huggable was over.

Food test: A handheld scanner to analyze your plate

For people with diabetes or gluten intolerance, eating out is anything but a pleasure. Tellspec could change that. The handheld sensor scans food using spectroscopy, a near infrared way of collecting digital electronic signals. A beam of light is focused into the food and its reflection collected back. This light is then dispersed onto a micro-mirror device, and measured by an optimized detection system. The data is analysed by the company’s database and a breakdown sent to your phone. Sounds complex, but that process takes about 3 seconds. The technology makes the level of analysis previously only available in a lab possible with just a scanner and a phone. Still in development, Tellspec’s co-founder Isabel Hoffmann is an entrepreneur who’s founded eight technology companies and received numerous awards including Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award. 

Quantified self: Jewelry that truly makes you feel better

While the number of wearable devices in the domain of quantified self has exploded over the past couple of years, the design of the gold-plated Leaf stands out. At first glance just a beautiful piece of jewelry, the Leaf is a sleep, activity, breathing and ovulation tracker. It monitors stress levels by measuring breath when worn as a necklace, then cross-references the data with stress level entries input into the app to establish how breathing correlates with stress. While monitoring sleep patterns, the menstrual cycle and ovulation days. Urška Sršen, co-founder of Bellabeat, the company which created Leaf, sees the smart jewelery as a tool to “stay healthy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Is connected health benefitting you in any way? Let us know @4womeninscience! 

For Women in Science

Before downloading this file

We confirm that the use of the Contents provided on this website is strictly for editorial purposes only.

We understand and confirm that any use, reproduction or representation of the Content provided on the Site (in whole or in part) or of the elements which comprise it, for commercial purposes whatsoever, is not authorized and violations in this regard shall invite strict legal action as per applicable laws & regulations.

We understand and confirm that the right to use the Content is on non-exclusive, non-transferable basis.

We hereby confirm that all information/statements/certificate in this database are provided without any warranty, express or implied, as to their legal effect, completeness and effects of any transaction under process may not be completely reflected.

We hereby confirm that all information/statements/certificate should be used in accordance with applicable laws. Use of information/statements/certificate shall be at my/ our own risk and L’OREAL shall not be responsible for the same.

We do hereby confirm that by using this Site, I/we am/are deemed to have accepted these Terms of Use without reserve.

I agree to the terms of use