In the adult incontinence category, Australian company Simavita's Smart Incontinence Management (SIM) technology is an automated system that helps facilities to create customized care plans, which can help reduce falls, UTIs, and skin issues while increasing quality of life and dignity for the aged, according to the company.
Simavita’s SIM pod is a wearable medical device that connects to Simavita’s SIM sensor, a single-use disposable device, which wirelessly transmits incontinence data to a server. The incontinence data collected is synchronized and processed with the incontinence-related observations that are recorded by staff via the SIM assist application. The SIM assist app is a software application that allows caregivers to take clear, unambiguous observations and integrate them directly into the incontinence assessment record.
Meanwhile, Danish company Abena, maker of Bambo Nature baby diapers, has developed a new intelligent diaper for the incontinence market. The Nova fuses the in-depth clinical expertise of incontinence and the experienced diaper manufacturing from Abena with the innovative wearable sensor technology of Silicon Valley-based MediSens Wireless.
Equipped with a unique digital sensor and wireless connection, Nova continuously registers changes in wetness levels of the continence product. This information is shared in real time with caregivers via the Nova App on their mobile devices.
Currently, Nova is part of a large trial with the second largest special needs healthcare provider in Netherlands, Philadelphia Zorg. The trial will take place over a six-month period among approximately 100 clients in multiple care facilities. Nova is expected to launch broadly in early 2018.
On the baby side, six fathers who worked for Samsung Electronics recently developed the Monit Sensor, which detects feces and urine in a baby’s diaper. Working with the company’s in-house developed algorithm, the product recognizes the baby’s diaper status through temperature, dampness and gas outside of the diaper—so the puck-sized sensor isn’t inside the diaper, nor does it touch baby’s skin. Unlike other smart diapers that are disposable, the Monit can be reused. The product is expected to be on the market in August.
To discuss the practicality of these products in the hygiene market, Nonwovens Industry reached out to diaper expert and consultant Carlos Richer to weigh in on the subject.
Nonwovens Industry (NWI): What are your thoughts on wearable/sensor technology for adult and baby diapers? Why is this type of technology important?
Carlos Richer (CR): For more than half a century, disposable adult protective briefs and disposable baby diapers have evolved and improved in terms of the raw materials they use and their expected performance, but they basically always shared the same usefulness. I am convinced that wearable/sensor technology is going to be disruptive because it provides new functionalities that diapers never had before. Maybe today it is a bit hard to imagine, but this technology will prove critical not only for helping care takers provide better incontinence management, but the technology will also help improve the quality of life and the skin health of those patients that use it, including babies.
Imagine you are nurse taking care of several patients. If they are all wearing intelligent underwear, nurses will know in real time and also ahead of time, when the protective brief needs to be changed. Nurses will even be able to customize the protective pant of each patient using a mobile phone App to the exact skin sensitivity of each patient, or potentially following a geriatric’s prescription. Nurses and caretakers will also be able to keep track of important data such as the time of the incident and the number of minutes that the product exceeded its desirable maximum wetness. In addition, a nurse will not need to wake up a patient when the protective brief is below a trigger point. This will allow residents to sleep better and wake up in a better mood. Using big data, they can even predict if the disposable underwear can hold well until the next visit, or if it needs to be changed now. It may also reduce the cost of the insurance paid by the hospital or the retirement home, and most likely reduce the overall cost of health care in terms of labor costs, and a probable reduction in the use of medications needed to correct skin health issues, in particular antibiotics.
NWI: Do you think this technology would prove more useful for aging adults or babies? Please explain.
CR: At first, it will add more value to aging adults. Seniors do not have the same level of personalized supervision as babies often do from their parents. However it is easy to see how these technologies will find their way to babies too. Here is an example: one of the biggest incidences for diaper rash can be associated to feces in the diaper. If the mother is not nearby, a baby with feces may not be detected until several minutes later. Feces and friction are a terrible mix and really bad for the skin. Breathable diapers have helped parents to be more alert about the presence of feces because they allow the smell to go out faster, but it is also not uncommon for the baby to be left alone in a separate room while napping or maybe while the parents are at the kitchen or watching TV. A sensor capable of detecting the presence of feces will help reduce this risk. Another common problem for sure is skin wetness and pH. Wearable sensing technology can help avoid exceeding a maximum level of accepted wetness or alkalinity, another cause of skin rash and discomfort. Imagine being able to know if the baby is comfortable and dry or if the diaper needs to be changed, no matter where you are, even if the baby is at the day care or with a nanny or baby sitter while you are out? This does not need to be science fiction anymore.
NWI: Do you see a demand for this type of product in the baby or adult diaper market?
CR: I am sure intelligent adult briefs will create demand quickly, how much volume and how soon will be a function of the total integrated savings and benefits derived from their use. It is easy to measure improvements in skin health benefits and also in the quality of life of the patients and the staff, both have the potential to make this market grow exponentially. The diaper by itself may be more expensive, but I can anticipate total system savings that will open the eyes of the health care industry everywhere. For the baby market to grow, it will take more time and a much slower rate, the reason mainly is the lack of other savings, like those you can have with the health care industry. Although, a niche of parents will be willing to pay the extra cost for a diaper that can provide the peace of mind that their babies are fine.
NWI: What settings do you think these type of products would be most useful in (home care, nursing homes, NICU, etc.)?
CR: Probably nursing homes, facilities that care for mentally challenged patients or the physically handicapped, and hospitals, will be the first to adopt these products; later followed by home care and infant day care centers and finally for private use from active incontinent users.
NWI: Do you think sensor technology could be a game changer in the industry? Why or why not?
CR: I am convinced it will, in particular for the adult briefs and underwear pants for institutional use. Preliminary data has shown that at least with some technologies currently being tested, the total daily cost for the hospital can be lower in comparison to the many benefits. Even with no savings or small cost increases, the benefits in quality of life alone will be the best promoters for these technologies.