What‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌future‌ ‌of‌ ‌wearable ‌technology‌ ‌in‌ ‌the health sector?

Posted in Healthcare Software
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Last Updated | November 16, 2021

Overview: Medical Wearables Market

Healthcare has always been one of the most crucial industries worldwide and ever since the beginning of the pandemic, it has proven its integral role. 

Several technological advancements in this industry have been accepted widely, which has transformed the healthcare industry completely. 

The use of wearables has become quite common among consumers, especially because of the pandemic. Consumers prefer to monitor their health through fitness watches. In addition to this, new devices are rolling out every day with improved features concentrating on health. 

According to an estimate by the Insider, one-fifth of the population of the US wears smart wearable technology in 2021 and the trend is promoted further during the pandemic. In fact, in the last four years, the number of users of wearable technology has tripled, since users have become more vigilant about their health. 

Since the demand for wearables has risen in the last few years, companies are becoming increasingly aware of how profitable supplying wearable technology is in the healthcare market. 

Development of Wearable Technology

Patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, and diabetes require real-time monitoring. 

Wearable devices are made of transducers and target receptors and are worn on the human body or clothing. The function of wearable technology is to detect changes in the body and provide real-time updates, helping physicians understand the changes in the human body. Wearable technology and smart technology in the healthcare sector is not a new concept. Glucose monitors for diabetics are common, while pacemakers and defibrillators, classified as implanted devices, provide life support to patients.

One of the first devices used int he healthcare technology are biosensors. In 1956, biosensors were used for the very first time to detect blood-oxygen levels through electrodes.  The device was designed for detecting blood oxygen levels in real-time in operating room settings during cardiovascular surgery. 

Based on this electrochemical biosensor and the use of electrodes, the first glucose analyser was created in 1975. Further advancements in material sciences lead to the invention of integrated HWDs that consist of electronic devices designed to process and share data. Ever since integrated HWDs came into existence, further advancements in healthcare wearables technology took place. 

Communication modules and Bluetooth technology have further developed in recent years and with HWDs visualization and transmitting data has become possible.  Wearable devices have experienced significant advancements, especially in recent years, and have simplified therapeutic procedures. In addition to this, the latest advancements have also minimized the risk of infections.

How Wearable Technology has Helped Healthcare?

To assess the potential of wearables in the healthcare industry, let’s take a look at how these devices have helped healthcare. In the early days of healthcare wearables, their functions were only confined to measuring heart rate, and activity trackers were most commonly used. But today, healthcare technology is capable of much more!  With any technology or device, users demand an engaging and user-friendly interface. The same applies to wearables in healthcare. 

Digital health technology has bridged the gap between doctors and patients, allowing patients to connect with their physicians through telehealth solutions . It has also enabled doctors to monitor their patients without having to be physically present. Since wearable technology provides doctors with real-time updates on the patient’s blood sugar levels, blood pressures, oxygen levels, and heart rate, they can analyze the condition of the patient and come up with an accurate treatment plan exactly when required by the patient. 

Wearable technology allows doctors to detect major health events and detect diseases in their early stages. This means they can provide their patients the necessary treatment on time which could end up increasing their lifespan and ultimately saving their patient’s life.  For example, if a patient’s blood pressure and heart rate are falling rapidly, a notification informs doctors and hence, they can take necessary life-saving precautions to help their patient. 

Through telehealth solutions, they can get in touch with a physician through their mobile phones without leaving their homes. This has proven to be extremely beneficial, especially during the pandemic, when the global population was forced to stay indoors. It has also allowed physicians to prescribe medication digitally and monitor their patients on a digital platform without being present with the patient physically. 

Plus, the patient care ecosystem has made the transmission of crucial patient information seamless, thanks to hl7 integration and hipaa compliant software  used for telehealth.

Since physicians can access their patient’s medical history, it allows them to make more accurate diagnoses and come up with effective treatment plans for their patients based on their medical information. 

Overall, wearables in healthcare technology have significantly enhanced the standard of healthcare, since doctors can now come up with more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatment plans exactly when needed by the patient. 

Impact of Wearable Technology in Healthcare

When any technological solution is launched, positive outcomes are often accompanied by unpredictable malfunctions or challenges which could affect the entire industry adversely.  There are two major concerns associated with digital devices and wearable technology in healthcare: malfunctions and data security.

It is highly likely for users of mechanical devices to misuse and misinterpret the results. Plus, the mechanical device is susceptible to malfunction. 

This makes it essential for both patients and doctors to cooperate to effectively use wearable technology. 

Using wearable tech is mostly limited to places where Wi-Fi connections are available, or sometimes if the battery dies, the device can no longer be used without charge. This significantly reduces the functionality of such technology and devices and may lead to inaccuracies and distorted patient information.

In addition to this, malfunctions might result in inaccurate data readings which lead to misdiagnoses and inaccurate treatment plans that could also be dangerous for patients, in some cases. Technological devices are designed with security measures to protect users.

Most healthcare providers use healthcare-related technology because of the amount of patient data available that doctors require to analyze the condition of their patients. However, data availability and accessibility are often accompanied by risks of data breaches.  This is when healthcare compliance solutions come into play. Wearable technology developers must adhere to HIPAA when designing their devices or platforms. This is necessary to safeguard stored data. 

Types of Wearable Technology in Healthcare

Wearable technology in healthcare is categorized into several types:

  • Health monitoring devices:

Health monitoring devices feature sensors and actuators. They are designed with appropriate processing and communication capabilities along with energy-storing abilities.

Such devices are designed to measure the vitals of a patient including heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure, etc. Health monitoring devices then transmit this data to physicians on apps installed on their mobile phones and other devices. 

  • Therapeutic devices:

Therapeutic devices monitor patient metrics in real-time. They have been designed to measure metrics related to disease therapy and treatment. 

Pain management, rehabilitation devices, insulin pumps, and respiratory therapy devices fall under this category. Some of these devices include sensors that are used to monitor the physical condition of the patient, allowing physicians to adjust the therapy accordingly. 

  • Activity tracking devices:

When these devices were first launched, they were not intended for use in specialized medical procedures.

Some of these wearable devices allow the measurement of vital signs since they are equipped with disease-specific functionalities. These devices usually sync the data gathered with an application and transmit this information to cloud platforms for further analysis.

What are the Examples of Wearable Technology?

Fitness trackers are just a small part of wearable technology in healthcare. Today, healthcare wearables go above and beyond a basic fitness tracker, boasting far more advanced capabilities. Health monitoring devices such as a smart skin patch are used to collect vitals including heart rate and transfer the data to physicians on their devices.

ECG monitor is a very common health monitoring device used to record a patient’s electrocardiogram. This is done through a wireless electrode that needs to be in contact with the patient. It is usually connected to the finger or the chest of the patient.  A common example of therapeutic devices is smart gloves. These are designed for patients who can no longer control their hand movements. The device helps the patient regain the hand movement through the repetitive arm and hand movements. 

Activity trackers are some of the most commonly used wearable technology used for healthcare purposes. Modern smartwatches help manage cardiovascular diseases by capturing systolic and diastolic pressure. 

In addition to this, fitness trackers capture oxygen and blood pressure levels, etc. These watches also offer recommendations on sleeping schedules, diet, and activity levels. 

Benefits of Wearable Technology in Healthcare

Wearable technology brings several benefits to not only medical practitioners but also patients. Doctors require real-time updates on their patients to monitor them effectively and provide them with timely care when required. Thanks to wearable technology, doctors can now monitor blood sugar levels, blood pressures, oxygen levels, heart rate, and much more! 

Technological advancement has made it possible to predict major events, and wearable technology is not very far behind in this aspect. Through wearable technology, doctors can detect a major health event beforehand and even detect disease early on. This allows them to provide their patients with the right treatment at the right time, which could ultimately act as a lifesaver. 

Wearable technology has been designed to instantly notify doctors when biometric readings enter the risk zones. This means when a patient enters a critical phase, doctors can take necessary life-saving measures and provide timely care. 

Technology has made life easier for both patients and healthcare providers. Patients no longer need to visit hospitals for consultations, thanks to telehealth solutions. They can consult doctors digitally and get the necessary medication on time. 

Through hl7 integration, doctors can get their hands on vital patient information and come up with more accurate diagnoses.  But what is hl7 integration?

Hl7 integration allows patient data to be transmitted seamlessly and ensures effective communication. It also acts as a measure of security for EHR and EMR synchronization. 

Top Wearable Health Devices

Some of the most commonly used health devices include:

Wearable Fitness Trackers:

Although these devices were not intended for specializing medical treatment, they are commonly used by several users today. 

The watches are capable of tracking the user’s physical activity and providing insights and recommendations on health and wellness. Some of these advanced wristbands are also equipped with eh ability to measure stress levels. 

The data they gather is synched with a mobile application, which then offers recommendations to the user accordingly. 

Smart Health Watches:

Smartwatches were commonly used to measure steps and tell the time. But that is now a thing of the past!  These watches not only provide invaluable workout information to users, but also track mental health status, and even provide movement reminders to users. 

Wearable ECG monitors

ECG monitors can measure heart rate, rhythm, and several other vitals such as blood pressure. 

These portable monitors can be used both with and without smartphones. They are also capable of detecting heart pauses, arrhythmia, premature atrial contractions, and other illnesses at their initial stages. 

Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors

These are similar to smartwatches since they are capable of measuring daily step count and blood pressure along with daily activity levels. These monitors boast advanced capabilities such as measuring calories burnt during a workout. 

Wearable Biosensors:

These wearable biosensors are still under development but according to {Top} digital health organizations, they possess the ability to revolutionize remote healthcare. 

Healthcare Wearable Technology Companies

The market of healthcare wearable technology is full of several companies offering advanced medical wearable solutions to consumers. 

Some of the most dominant players in the wearable technology industry are mentioned below:

  • Fitbit Inc.
  • Garmin Ltd.
  • Xiaomi Inc.
  • Samsung
  • Sony Corporation

Medical device app development is not as simple as it may seem. Despite this, some companies have developed some of the most advanced healthcare solutions that are commonly used today. 

FAQs:

Why is wearable technology important?

Technological advancements, especially wearable devices in healthcare, have facilitated the industry to the extent that now doctors can come up with more accurate diagnoses because of the accessibility to vital patient information, and provide more effective treatment to patients. 

The best part is, wearables today are so advanced that they provide physicians with real-time information which allows them to provide timely care to their patients.

What areas of health care might benefit from wearable technology?

Wearable technology has benefited several areas of healthcare. The seamless patient information accessibility and virtual communication with patients have made the lives of both doctors and patients easier. 

Conclusion:

Wearable technology benefits the healthcare industry in several ways. From more accurate diagnoses to better patient-physician communication, wearable tech has proven its worth ever since its launch. 

However, the cost of telemedicine software is not low, and it might not be possible for all healthcare providers to come up with digital solutions for their patients, despite its profitability. 

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