Neonatal monitoring allows healthcare providers to track and screen newborns for basic functions, including monitoring temperature, oxygen saturation (SpO₂), blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rate. Higher-end monitors incorporate accessories such as resuscitation systems, intravenous lines for feeding/blood/medication, ventilation, and phototherapy. The neonatal monitoring market segment is expected to be worth $656m in 2023, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Patient monitoring is important for vulnerable populations that have shorter timeframes for intervention, like newborns and immunocompromised patients. This ensures that developing devices with higher sensitivity and accuracy for these patient populations is a priority. After more precise technologies are developed and produced at scale for neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), the benefits they offer will spread to other areas of the healthcare environment.
A recent example of this kind of innovation was featured in a study published on March 25 in Nature, titled ‘Contactless radar-based breathing monitoring of premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit’. Breathing monitoring technologies are available for all patients who need them, but this study focuses on contactless methods due to the delicacy of infants. Older patients are less likely to present with complications or reactions when using existing devices, so the added cost of contactless technology is less attractive.
This pattern of meeting the more specialised needs of newborns and then adopting the technology to other patients is very effective at driving innovation. There are cases where neonatal monitors can benefit from devices developed for adult patients, but rarely without the devices first undergoing modifications.