In Rio, the world’s best runners, swimmers, gymnasts, bikers and other athletes have been wowing us with their passionate pursuit of the coveted Olympic gold. We’re also plenty impressed with the golden opportunities for healthcare technology showcased on this week’s HIT List, which features the FDA’s willingness to limit regulation of low-risk wellness apps, the strategic role of CIOs as well as smart tech that supports independence for individuals with limited mobility.

  1. Hands-off approach. Hoping to encourage development of more technologies that empower individuals to actively engage in their healthcare, the FDA has decided it will not regulate mobile health and fitness apps and other low-risk wellness products and medical devices. However, it will still oversee those that are invasive, implanted or a potential safety risk. Let the innovation begin!
  2. Sharing is satisfying. Patients who use online resources to gather information about their diagnosis and discuss treatment options express greater satisfaction with their decisions, new research shows. Participants in the study preferred using email or text messages to share their diagnosis of breast cancer, but they turned to social media and online support groups to discuss treatment options and physician recommendations. Another benefit: they found all the online outlets helpful for coping with related stress.
  3. Connected to innovation. The IoT is connecting patients with previously unimaginable life-saving and life-changing technology. For example, doctors recently used an iPhone, Google Cardboard “goggles” and virtual reality to figure out how to operate on an infant with rare birth defects. Other groundbreaking digital products include a wristband for drug-free nausea relief, a mobile app to monitor blood sugar and automatically adjust insulin levels, and personalized treatment plans based on biometric data collected by microscopic sensors. “Smart care” is certainly redefining health care.
  4. The eyes have it. At a Massachusetts skilled nursing facility, residents living with ALS and MS can use their eyes, and a tablet, to control lights, TVs, window shades A/C, elevators, phones – or anything else with an on/off switch. The high-tech living areas were specially designed to maximize independence for the residents, as well as ease the burden on caregivers. The challenge is to figure out ways to reduce the cost of the system and enable more people to take advantage of the “prosthetic central nervous system,” as one thankful resident calls it.
  5. The evolving CIO. The pressure is on for healthcare CIOs – and their counterparts across all industries. Once content to focus on technology alone, they now have to be collaborative, strategic and knowledgeable about their business. For healthcare CIOs, that means taking into account growing consumerism and seeking insight and inspiration from the likes of Disney, Wal-Mart and other customer-focused organizations. Check out the other skills considered critical for future success.
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