By Mark Healey
Sensors are touted as the way of the future for medicine. Eventually the entire physical exam may be replaced with more consistent and valid measures through the complete adoption of biological sensors. These devices are already improving the patient experience as well as the accurate collection of healthcare data. In the past decade, many issues, such as blood pressure and cardiac monitoring, are being managed at home, while the acquired data is being uploaded directly to physicians. This trend is only going to increase. Ample time and money will be saved via the use sensors and data. Healthcare technology will to open the door to a system of continuous and clear communication between patients and providers.
An example of a device in the "pipeline", a biotechnology term for a company’s product(s) being developed and tested, is Sensimed’s Triggerfish. The device is a soft, disposable contact lens embedded with a microsensor that provides measurements of the shape of the cornea, the transparent part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil.  This measurement is particularly useful in diagnosing glaucoma, when increased pressures within the eye will change the shape of the cornea. 
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which the fluid pressure within the eye increases, whether due to overproduction or inadequate drainage of the fluid inside the eye (or the aqueous humour). This elevated pressure can exert strain on the optic nerve, eventually causing visual field loss and even blindness. 
Currently, measurements are taken of the eye during check-up appointments. The issue with that is providers get only a tiny snapshot of a metric that changes throughout the day. In glaucoma, the pressure is known to be greatest overnight and lowest during the day. Therefore, not only are physicians getting only a piece of the data, they are getting it at the wrong time of the day. 
The Triggerfish lens will provide 24 hours’ worth of data to be analyzed by providers.  Among providing a more accurate examination for clinicians, the device should be able to help curb the progression of the disease in a patient who is experiencing very early signs of glaucoma.
At the moment, the device is being used in Europe but has yet to gain approval in the U.S. Overall the device has been found to be fairly tolerable for most patients with exception of some mild, temporary adverse effects like blurred vision, conjunctival hyperemia (reddening of the eye), irritation, and itching. Adding to that, the use of Triggerfish in data collection is limited because it does not output data using the standardized unit for pressure, which is a millimeter of mercury (mm Hg). 
Nonetheless, Sensimed is one of many companies developing products that will increase the accuracy and efficiency of healthcare. With the fusion of sensors and data analytics, the amount of medical knowledge in use today may be dwarfed within the next decade. Trends, correlations, and risk factors will be discovered much more quickly than ever.
William Rusnak is a fourth year student at Drexel University College of Medicine, financial investor, writer, and entrepreneur. He writes about topics such as healthcare technology, medical billing software, biotechnology, and nutrition. He is currently applying to residencies with plans to practice in Primary Care and Sports Medicine. Outside of his professional life, he is a family man, performing musician, and paleo-diet enthusiast.