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It’s been a long time coming, but the healthcare sector is finally embracing the digital era. For many years, digital technologies have made it simpler for patients to access their medical records and ease the monitoring of existing conditions. However, newer technologies are paving the way for precision testing, allowing families to anticipate the impact of things like developmental disorders and genetic diseases. Below, we spotlight some of the most innovative digital health developments for families in 2022.
Allergy Awareness and Management
Food allergies have long been a cause for concern for families with young children. In the United Kingdom, it’s estimated that as many as 8% of children suffer from food allergies.
Although hospital admissions for allergies and anaphylactic shock in under 18s have stabilized in recent years, there’s a rising prevalence in the number of allergy sufferers in the UK and beyond. There are numerous factors at play here. Many people have a genetic predisposition towards developing specific allergies. General dietary habits and vitamin deficiencies are also likely contributors. Early exposure to food allergens is another influential factor, although recent studies suggest that delaying introduction to certain foods may be causing more harm than good.
With so much uncertainty surrounding allergens and allergy management, the need for better diagnostic tools has never been more urgent. Thankfully, several companies have risen to the challenge in recent years, unveiling a suite of user-friendly tools that can be used by families and clinicians alike.
Food allergen sensors are arguably the most practical digital health developments for those concerned about allergies and anaphylaxis management. These sensors allow families to perform quick tests of new foods, with real-time results flagging any allergenic causes for concern.
A New Era for Developmental Disorder Therapies
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Developmental disorders present a significant challenge to families. In the UK, more than 350,000 children under 17 suffer from at least one developmental disorder. To support sufferers, a multi-pronged care approach is required. In every case, parents need to take charge and coordinate the delivery of this care comfortably.
Digital health solutions will make it far easier to manage developmental disorder therapies’ logistical and financial aspects. Many companies, including Cognoa, are hard at work developing exciting therapeutic devices that will make early detection and reliable diagnosis more achievable. This is crucial in minimizing significant developmental delays.
Once diagnosed, developmental disorders need to be effectively managed. Unfortunately, traveling to specialist clinics to meet with therapists isn’t always practical for busy families. Pairing families with specific treatment providers can also prove a logistical nightmare.
Going into 2022 and beyond, expect more platforms to emerge that combine in-person treatment with online support. This is a game-changer for families struggling to secure personalized treatment plans for children with unique requirements.
A disproportionate number of rare diseases affect children. Despite this, precision medicine and genomic testing approaches tend to favor adults.
However, a handful of companies are looking to change this. Some companies, such as Lineagen, focus on tech development that can identify a broad set of genetic conditions. By identifying specific pediatric requirements early, clinicians can provide personalized care plans for better treatment and improved recovery rates.
Genomic testing can also anticipate the impact of autism and developmental disorders. With a precise genetic cause identified, parents and care providers can anticipate the true scale of what lies ahead. This allows for better preparation, allowing parents to manage additional risk factors contributing to co-morbidities.
Increased Access to Mental and Behavioural Health Support
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Anxiety and depression are on the rise in children. As many as 1 in 6 children under the age of 16 in the UK suffer from at least one mental health issue. However, as many as 75% of these children aren’t getting access to the help they desperately need. Even if they are referred to the NHS, there’s no guarantee they’ll be accepted into treatment programs.
Early access to mental health support is vital in managing symptoms and minimizing secondary risk factors. New digital health developments are now emerging to help children and families access the help they need. In addition, virtual care solutions are exciting, offering on-demand cognitive behavior therapy and other support programs.
The Future of Digital Health for Families
For the innovations outlined above to prove effective, healthcare systems must commit to developing new technologies tailored toward children. Precision medicine has long favored adults, leaving pediatric disease largely untouched. In the future, expect to see a change in this trend. New digital health developments will make diagnosing pediatric disease far easier while also streamlining the diagnosis of behavioral and developmental disorders. A shift to virtual care and online therapy will also help plug the shortfall in mental health support for children and adolescents.