Wearable technologies offer a convenient mode of monitoring many vital statistics of physiological conditions, presenting a horde of medical solutions. A recent report from Research and Markets predicts global sales of wearable devices will exceed $60 billion by 2025. The greatest benefit of these healthcare wearable devices is that they offer individuals with the data they require to gain much better control over their health outcomes. Not only are these devices easy for the consumer to use, but they offer real-time data for physicians to analyse as well. Widely available and often inexpensive, the tools are finding a role among physicians and in many elements of care delivery.
With increasing consumer demand to monitor their own health, a study by Business Insider Intelligence showed more than 80% of the consumers are eager to wear fitness monitoring devices. The use of wearable technology has more than tripled in the last four years and would grow exponentially in post COVID scenario.
The popularity of wearable originated from smartwatches and wristband fitness trackers like Fitbit. Wearable technology relies mostly on different types of miniaturized sensors. The data gathered by the sensors are monitored through different Apps in smartphones. Initially used to count steps and tell time, smartwatches have now transformed into clinically viable healthcare tools. According to Jacek Urbanek, assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine “People can overestimate or underestimate on surveys how much and when they move, but wearable devices provide accurate data that cuts through the bias and guesswork.”
Wearables technology in healthcare has moved beyond smartwatches in last two years. From wearable ECG monitors to wearable blood pressure monitors, blood glucose level monitors and various other types of biosensors. Wearable devices can provide a completely new level of monitoring, diagnosis and treatment. Many companies across the world are using this technology because of its benefits and asking app development companies to develop wearable apps. This technology is specifically right for people with chronic conditions requiring continuous monitoring. It becomes easier to gather medical data regularly so that the underlying disease can be seen accurately and necessary action like hospitalization can be done immediately. These devices also reduce recurring medical expenses like visiting the doctor/ hospital/ diagnostic centre regularly. Real time monitoring helps doctors understand the severity and prioritize cases.
Some of the emerging wearables
Current Health’s artificial intelligence (AI) wearable device that measures multiple vital signs has recently received FDA-clearance for patients to use at home.
Smartphone applications, wearable devices such as smartwatches and rings, and other consumer devices offer an accurate and convenient means of monitoring physiological changes associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Parameters like gait data, fine motor control in terms of finger tapping speed, motor control of eye, sleep pattern and heart rate can be made available which can predict Alzheimer’s Disease.
A research team of Northwestern University, USA has come up with a Wearable Sweat-Sensor that informs athletes of water and electrolyte loss from their body, preventing health deterioration.
Researchers from University of Michigan have recently developed a wearable device precisely detects cancer cells in blood. It can continuously collect and examine circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood. These cancer cells are typically obtained via blood samples to provide a biomarker for treatment.
A Singapore based company, AWAK Technologies, have recently received FDA Breakthrough Device designation for their wearable and portable Peritoneal dialysis device. Once fully commercialized, it would be immensely convenient for renal diseases patients undergoing dialysis.
The future looks promising
The healthcare industry has quickly adopted these connected medical devices for lowering operational costs and improving efficiency. Medical Director’s CEO Matthew Bardsley said that the increased wellness digital usage of individual users will have a wealth of data on their own wellbeing at their fingertips, making them far more empowered and equipped to track and monitor their own health and to some extent, even self-diagnose. There is no stopping for the healthcare wearable market and will continue to evolve in the years to come. Areas of concern that will need addressing are data security, privacy as well as opportunities for advanced data analytics. IoT healthcare wearable devices will enable consumers to remain accessible to the cloud for transmitting data back to appropriate persons, enable healthcare providers to gain the information they require and ensure regulatory compliance by protecting patient data. It will thus reduce human intervention in healthcare, enabling context-based automation. Therefore, when it comes to wearable technology, the sky is the limit, and it will continue to make waves in the healthcare industry.
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