wearables in healthcare

How Wearables are transforming the Healthcare Industry

If you are a Disney movie fan, then you probably remember Baymax, the adorable healthcare robot from Big Hero 6. What if you too had a constant companion to monitor and advise you on your health? With healthcare wearable technology gaining momentum, this does not seem like a far off dream. Wearables are changing the future of healthcare and its impact on the industry is just getting started.

The popularity of wearable devices like Fitbit, Nike+, Apple Watch etc., has had a profound impact on the health and fitness, and sports industry. Spurred by demand from global users, the market has witnessed exponential growth, with the wearable medical device market projected to reach US$ 14.41 billion by 2022 (Source: Markets & Markets).

What’s fascinating is that wear tech is not entirely a 21st-century innovation. One has just got to go back into time to realize that what’s commonplace today was a breakthrough discovery yesterday! Just think of the first eyewear, or the pocket watch or even Edward O. Thorpe’s computer-fit-shoe. The history of wearable technology is indeed full of the impossible made possible! And the future of wearables seems no less promising. 

Is Wear Tech the future of Healthcare?

Wearable technology is entering a new phase of evolution with devices getting more sophisticated, user-friendly and connected. Developers today are more focused on delivering unparalleled user-experiences and in turn empowering users to take control of their own health.

The question is no longer if wearables are going to design the future of the healthcare ecospace but to what extent and how is wear tech going to change the healthcare landscape.

Though in the last couple of years, there have been several extraordinary discoveries especially in medical wearable technology, not all have been cleared by the FDA and hence not commercially available. Not surprisingly, when it comes to healthcare wearable devices, the popularity seems to be limited to fitness and wellness devices.

Nonetheless, the innovations are noteworthy, and some have even shown promise.

How Wearable Devices are shaping the future of Healthcare and Fitness?

It’s acceptable that wear tech has had its impact on the health and fitness industry. While few devices have transcended the scope of wear tech and are being used ordinarily as fashion accessories, there are others that are still under consideration and research. On that note, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways wearables are driving change in the healthcare and fitness sector:

1. Empowering People: Wear Tech is transforming the manner in which regular people are becoming more involved in taking care of their health. Volumes of health and lifestyle data are being collected and recorded via wearables, and though not all data are medically accurate or precise, it gives key insight into certain vital metrics. These metrics, in turn, can keep users informed about their health in general.

With devices being able to track and provide data on sleep patterns, exercise routines, heart rate, etc. wearables empower ‘busy lives’ to develop a more responsible approach towards themselves.     

2. Making ‘Fitness’ the new mantra: With the launch of the Apple Watch and trackers from Fitbit and Nike, fitness today is one of the most popular lifestyle mantras. Everyone today wants to stay fit and with these trackers can track their success towards their fitness goals.

With real-time data provided on steps taken, calorie intake, distance walked, heartbeat, etc. these wearables, either as a watch or band, are intelligently encouraging more people to make fitness a habit. Some of them even offer badges and reward points for accomplishing certain goals – making people enjoy their routines through small victories.   

3. Stress management: Stress is one of the most poignant challenges that individuals worldwide are battling with today. Extreme stress can lead to several health issues such as obesity, headaches, diabetes, anxiety to name a few. Wearable technology can help to mitigate stress, hence preventing future health complications.

Wearable devices like Pip can measure skin pores to detect stress level and provide guidance on how to regain calm. This also requires specific wearable app development as all guidance is provided through visuals displayed on smartphone apps.

The challenge of battling stress is at such highs, that apart from wearables, there are mobile apps (eg. SOS Method) that have been designed for battling stress and its related challenges, namely anxiety, sleeplessness, and peacefulness.  

4. Wearables as screening tools: The possibility of wearables as medical screening tools has not gone unexplored. Countless ideas have been experimented with to develop wearables that can hold the answer to minor and major concerns related to detection. However, not all efforts have borne fruits, with many ideas still in its nascent stage.

There have been some exceptions though. The iTBra, developed by Cyrcadia Health/Cyrcadia Asia (currently not for sale or distribution in the United States), is one such case and marks the breakthrough in using AI for early breast cancer detection. It has been estimated that there were nearly 2 million new cases of breast cancer in 2018 (Source: WCRF International). With many women unable to comprehend the early symptoms and act upon it, the iTBra as a wearable screening device could be a boon for doctors and women worldwide.

5. Wearables for specific medical conditions: When it comes to developing wearables for specific medical conditions, a lot depends on the success rate of previous devices and market requirements.

For instance, with about 75 million Americans dealing with hypertension (Souce: CDC), Withings wireless blood pressure monitor was one of the earliest connected devices to have made its mark as a healthcare wearable. Today, its success has prompted several others to develop trackers for blood pressure monitoring, making it possible for people to avail technology to address specific medical conditions.  

With most wearables backing on smartphones and apps to transfer data, the future of wearables in the healthcare industry also opens door to new-age mobile app development. By providing users with real-time data on their health, wearables are not only empowering people but also shifting the approach to healthcare from reactionary care to preventive care.


March 21, 2019 2 years ago

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