Healthcare facilities, care providers and health IT organizations are increasingly looking at ways to implement and sustain connected care systems to benefit patient outcomes and for increasing clinician efficiency. And leading this change is wearable health technology.
With 70% of the top-selling wearable devices dedicated to fitness, health apps are set to transform the mobile health market completely.
The global healthcare paradigm is fraught with high and unsustainable costs, therefore this surge in wearable healthcare apps was imminent because it aims at making this industry a self-service model where patients are centrally involved in their own care. And to maintain a healthy population, people need to have the mediums through which they can accurately track and map their health in between hospital or clinic visits with accurate and sufficient insight to know they are well. Health apps are key, and wearables happen to be the first step of this healthcare evolution.
Big tech corporations are churning custom software for clinics and the market has seen a rise in dedicated wearable health and wellness app developers. Most of these health IT solutions are aimed at enabling the patient to measure and better understand themselves, and providing them with data they can use to make more informed decisions. Healthcare and wearable app developers see a future where wearables will be able to help predict a wearer’s likely decline into illness and help them decide whether or not they need to visit their doctor or go for medical assistance.
It is estimated that by 2020 the market for wearable technology will be worth $34 billion through the sale of some 411 million smart wearable apps and devices.
Here is a quick review of how wearable technologies are helping patients and healthcare providers.
REAL-TIME DATA ANYTIME, ANYWHERE
To engage healthcare consumers, wearable gadgets are increasingly using Virtual/Augmented Reality and game mechanics and design techniques. The market has also grown due to increased accessibility to WiFi, which helps wearable technologies stay constantly connected to facilitate a continuous stream of data.
This hyperconnectivity provides a rich and intuitive experience not just for fitness conscious users of health and activity trackers, but also for patients with complex chronic diseases and their doctors or caretakers who need real-time data on the move. Data availability is set to proliferate as wearable devices move from niche to the mainstream.
PRE-EMPTING DECLINE IN HEALTH
Some of the more sophisticated wearable devices can also measure or predict a potential health decline which in-turn signals the wearable device’s user that either it’s time to change their behaviour or seek medical intervention. This is very helpful for consumers who suffer from stress related conditions and illnesses, enabling them to identify particular situations that trigger illnesses so they can learn to actively avoid these triggers well before problems or symptoms start to appear.
IMPROVING THE OVERALL QUALITY OF LIFE
A multitude of health issues, which are not life threatening but impact the wellbeing and quality of life, can be solved with innovations in wearable technology. For instance, a clinically accurate blood pressure monitor (BPM) that enables real-time analysis and management of blood pressure readings along with using sensors to determine hypertension and measure the patient’s heartbeat.
An innovative wearable product has been recently introduced to improve the lives of people living with hearing impairment. The gadget’s functionality is purely meant for smartphones, it has been developed to work in conjunction with all iOS devices via a bluetooth connection. People suffering from severe hearing loss can also fine tune their settings for optimum sound quality when using the mobile app.
CHRONIC DISEASE PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT
Chronic disease management is a major challenge for our current healthcare system. Most patients spend their money on caring for chronic diseases, which are not only common and costly, but also preventable of all health problems. These include asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain from various causes, which require monitoring, compliance, and behavioral changes.
For example, an intelligent Asthma monitoring wearable system (present in the market) that is waterproof, soft, and flexible. It can communicate with a smartphone app and web portal using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or cellular connections. The device is attached to the upper torso using skin-safe adhesive and tracks forerunner symptoms of asthmatic attacks, including respiration pattern, cough rate, heartbeat, and body temperature.
EASING HEALTHCARE FOR THE AGED
The aged population is susceptible to more health problems compared to other groups and a rapid increase in their number has caused an immense increase in the demand for healthcare services and health apps. Older adults are now living longer and facing new economic and healthcare challenges which mostly include limitation in vision, hearing, mobility, communication, and cognition, or self-care.
The market has seen an increase in different smart wearables that can help in elderly care, for example, the ADAMAAS Smart Glasses. They help seniors to manage their failing eyesight. They are a device that brings a computer screen/display in front of a person’s eyes in order to represent data from the background information system, and the user can see the environment without interference when they are not looking for information provided by the smart glasses. Some advanced smart glass systems are capable of automatically providing information about a scenery and even provide facial recognition of a person coming towards them, preventing thefts when alone.
Health IT is going through all these changes right now and smart wearables and health apps are a medium to ensure a highly reliable, scalable, and resilient system for a healthy ecosystem to thrive, including both patient and the clinician. Although achieving complete interoperability is a distant goal, the next decade is set to witness some major advancements in the wearable movement in medical and consumer wearables.
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