Electronic Products & Technology

Pandemic accelerates use of electronic skin patches

Pandemic has driven concerted effort to explore and revise approaches reports IDTechEx

July 26, 2021  By DTechEx, Cambridge, UK

Over the last 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a worldwide concerted effort to explore and revise our approaches to patient monitoring and infectious disease management, according to a recent report by IDTechEx. As with other wearable devices, electronic skin patch products have evolved significantly over this period of time.

Electronic skin patches represent one wearable technology product type that is well suited for physiological monitoring. Placing a connected electronic device onto the skin via an adhesive provides a platform which can house many different types of sensor, most prominently for medical monitoring of the wearer.

Dealing with a highly infectious disease

Electronic skin patch. Source: IDTechEx

The impact of COVID-19 has been significant for many sectors but in vastly different ways. Products for remote patient monitoring saw a significant increase in demand and deployment, with remote monitoring options being significantly more favourable when dealing with a highly infectious disease. Regulatory hurdles were lowered to meet the emergency demand during the pandemic, which saw many companies accelerate in their commercialization on already existing paths. This particularly helped companies in the early stage of commercialization to get to the next stage of scale-up in the long journey to commercializing a mainstream medical device.

For many other sectors, the changes were more subtle. As with other markets, local lockdowns impacted products that require in-person delivery, such as a visit to a cardiologist. However, with many companies already trialing telehealth options, they were often quickly able to scale these up to enable remote delivery of products. As such, whilst late Q1 and Q2 figures may have been impacted negatively, many companies recovered extremely quickly and enabled shifts to potentially more profitable models involving tools such as telehealth.

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The net result is that many trends which have been observed in the electronic skin patch market have been accelerated. Familiarity with telehealth and its general acceptance has seen a notable increase in uptake. Remote patient monitoring options have developed further, not just within the monitoring and treatment of specific disease verticals, but also in more general settings. Both of these have been underpinned by a series of prominent acquisitions, seeing some major medical device companies acquiring leading skin patch companies with a view to integrating them within wider digital healthcare ecosystems. Philips’ acquisition of BioTelemetry for $2.8bn, announced in December 2020, is the largest and most significant, and one of several deals which are covered.


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