Soon, NFC may be as vital to tele-health as a smooth Internet connection.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, tele-health sparked interest among medical professionals and patients alike. Remote appointments are increasing the availability of medical services for those who may need it the most: the disabled, the elderly, and people worried about the time and cost commitment of regular healthcare. One of these tele-health advancements comes NFC-equipped– and it can help manage chronic conditions such as disabilities, heart disease, and more.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is an emerging technology that tracks the patient’s health metrics (think body temperature, blood pressure, glucose levels, and weight) and shares them with their physician. This allows doctors to know right away if a patient is approaching worrying levels of a certain measurement and provides a clearer and more accurate portrait of patient health in general.

If you’re having a hard time imagining this, here is an example: a US-based manufacturer is offering a line of various health sensor patches equipped with NFC tags. These wearable patches are self-adhesive and no more uncomfortable than normal bandages, but with a simple tap, you can monitor your glucose levels or your resting heart rate. Your NFC-enabled device (usually a smartphone or tablet) then shows your data, so you can view it yourself and send it to your physician.

There are multiple reasons NFC is the best technology for this very important task. First, NFC technology is relatively cheap, keeping manufacturing costs and therefore purchasing costs low. Second, because NFC is so self-sustaining, it does not need a battery or power supply, allowing for lightweight, wearable technology. Finally, NFC is user-friendly with its one-tap interface, and is also designed to sync up with other devices that fit the NFC Forum’s Personal Health Device Communication (PHDC) Technical Specification.

Because health information is so personal, it is of the utmost importance that RPM products respect data integrity and user privacy. NFC technology is engineered to address these needs. The short-range technology intrinsic to NFC strengthens RPM devices against man-in-the-middle cybersecurity attacks, protecting the transmission of data from the device to healthcare providers. In addition, to protect user privacy, RPM devices are not “always-on”: because of NFC’s touch paradigm, users must interact with their mobile devices before data transmission can take place. NFC also supports offline sensors so it only connects with explicit user intent. This way, patients can feel safe knowing their confidential medical information is only “up for transmission” when they tell it to be.

The future of RPM devices using NFC technology is seemingly boundless. As more people become conscious of the benefits of monitoring their health and use tele-health to do so, health product manufactures and clinical practitioners are looking at RPM devices as an inexpensive, safe and accurate way to stay on top of health monitoring. The RPM market is expected to grow 6.2% annually over the next five years as more doctors and patients catch on to this emerging innovation. Within time, expect to see wearable health sensors everywhere as NFC-equipped technology continues to enable people to stay on top of their health.