In the healthcare and wellness industry, users are increasingly shifting toward regulated healthcare that is personalized and monitored. The quick breakthrough in mobile technology has skyrocketed the use of portable devices. With these advancements, wearable devices are evolving as outstanding health monitoring devices for medical care services, especially with increasing attention towards well-being, health, fitness, and disease prevention.
Today’s artificial intelligence, robots, smart sensors, big data, radar technologies, and digital wearables can manage and prevent diseases. They can estimate blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and respiration of old and aged and indicate risks such as declining health, worsening diseases, and other threatening situations like- increased blood pressure or problem with respiration, etc.
What are Wearable Medical Devices?
Wearable devices in healthcare include electronic devices that people can wear, such as smartwatches and Fitbits. These are designed to collect the personal health data of users. As they are in high demand, their market is booming, making healthcare app developers determine how they can deliver the best wearable fitness technology to people.
These days many wearable devices such as watches, earbuds, t-shirts, bands, and many more are popping up here and there. Wearable healthcare technology has got so weaved into the society that smartwatches and FitBits are perceived as mainstream, so the future of wearable technology shows no signs of decline.
Insider Intelligence reports that more than 80 percent of consumers inclined to monitor their health and track their vital signs are keen to wear wearable gadgets. During the last few years, consumers have tripled their use of wearable devices.
These devices allow users to transfer health data to healthcare professionals and doctors in real-time. However, the primary threat of using these kinds of consumer technologies is the lack of regulations and supervision and how they collect and transfer the data.
To this point, healthcare software development service providers must make sure that the devices they manufacture must comply with the three major things addressed in HIPAA.
To secure patient data and comply with the three major things addressed in HIPAA security, healthcare organizations must exercise three best practices. These are physical security, technical security, and administrative security of the patient data.
What is Wearable Technology Used for?
Wearable technology, commonly known as wearables, are devices that individuals wear physically to analyse, track, and transfer personal data. These are smart IoT devices designed to track biometric data: from sleep patterns to heart rate. Consumers use wearables to accurately transmit essential exercise, biological, and medical information to a database.
Some classic examples of wearables are FitBit and Apple Watch, but wearable devices are not limited to these devices. Though wearable devices differ in their functions, each performs the job of collecting millions of bits of data, ranging from the number of steps a wearer takes to their heart rate.
Many professionals analysing blood disorders have increasingly got interested in wearable trackers. Mobile applications, cuff-less blood pressure sensors, and wireless smartphone-enabled upper limb blood pressure monitors are the most commonly used wearables for evaluating and regulating blood pressure.
Wearables can also help with the diagnosis, screening, and monitoring of psychological disorders like depression. They also improve patient management efficiency in hospitals. Additionally, wireless transmission in wearable systems enables researchers to develop a new type of point-of-care diagnostic tool. Therefore, researchers expect individuals to use wearable devices for the timely detection of health abnormalities.
Wearables Devices and Health Care Cost
Current estimations show that wearable technology will achieve a cost savings of around $200 billion in the healthcare industry worldwide for the next three decades. This cost-saving is possible due to the increasingly credible prognostic potentiality of wearable tech.
Since wearable technologies are clinical decision support system examples tools, they can predict the onset of quiescent conditions such as those affecting the lungs before their clinical manifestation. This allows patients to seek inexpensive and more effective medication options with better prediction. Therefore, they will not have to pursue long, weary, and costly treatment procedures.
The global price tag of health care costs is around $9 trillion, much of which is emerging from Western civilization. Probably, in the next few years, wearable technology will also reduce hospital costs by approximately 16%. It will benefit hospital CEOs to reduce operating and telemedicine-startup-costs in their spheres. On the other hand, corporations are now offering fitness trackers to their employees at a deep discount to lower healthcare costs and make the most of the incentives that big insurance companies offer.
What are the Pros and Cons of Wearable Technology?
- Wearables Increase Employee Productivity
As wearables allow medical staff to solve issues quicker, experts from the University of London found that wearable tech can boost staff productivity by 8.5%. For instance, some wearable devices allow healthcare providers to look inside a patient’s veins quickly.
- Wearables Increase Employee Satisfaction
Human Cloud At Work conducted a study associated with Rackspace that shows that wearables raise job contentment by 3.5%. Since wearable technology improves staff productivity, job satisfaction simultaneously improves.
- Wearables Enable Organizations to Track Employee Health
Using wearables, organizations can track the health and fitness of staff members as part of their health programs. Of the firms that design and run wellness programs, 40 to 50% of employees use trackers.
The data collected by these gadgets is often correlated with incentive programs to reduce healthcare costs.
- Some Wearable devices are not Stand-Alone.
Since wearables have a small processor size, they are usually connected to separately standing smart gadgets. To use a fitness tracker, it must be related to a corresponding application on a smartphone or a tablet.
This may increase expenses for business owners if they provide wearables to their employees.
- Wearables May Pose Security Risks
Wearables are always connected to the Internet, which makes them more prone to attacks. These gadgets are not always rigorously encrypted to protect personal data.
- Wearables Can Have Health Risks
Professionals have expressed concern for the severe health risks that wearables may pose to consumers of these devices. This technology increases susceptibility to radio waves to the consumers who already carry laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
What are Wearable Devices’ Health Risks?
Wearable technology, on one hand, brings ease for healthcare providers and patients by providing them valuable and accurate data; on the other hand, it is likely to pose some health risks for consumers. Some wearable medical devices can cause illnesses, injury, and even death of patients or wearers.
1 out of 100 users reported FitBit to have caused skin irritation or rashes on users’ wrists who wear it daily. It is because of the allergic reactions to materials used in them. In 2017, a woman wearing a FitBit underwent second-degree burns because her Fitbit caught fire.
This device also poses electro-sensitive and EMF-related risks: ringing ears, unexplained hives, chronic headaches, weakened immune system, excessive fatigue, and a kind of body pain. It is a known fact that wearing a device constantly receiving wifi signals is not suitable for people.
Materials like synthetic fabrics and other metals used in the formation of wearable technologies can cause an effect on the skin resulting in allergic responses. Moreover, constant contact with such devices may also sometimes cause sensitivity to the skin.
Some of these devices can give an electric shock to the wearer due to excessive leakage of current that might result from accidentally exposing to defective circuitry or other components.
When electrical devices are used for a longer duration, their temperature often increases. Wearable technologies incorporate compact computing components and powerful microprocessors, so they are more prone to increased temperatures. Extended exposure to these devices and their increased temperatures can damage human tissue.
What are the Famous Wearable Devices Health Apps?
While using a wearable device, users choose a health app to view all their newfound data. Many users opt for different apps, but these are the most popular.
With an Apple Watch or an iPhone, an Apple Health app is available automatically installed. It can also be downloaded on several other branded wearable devices.
Apple Health automatically measures walking and running distance, steps and uses the wearer’s body measurements to calculate the number of calories they are burning.
You can add additional activities like cycling distance, pushes, exercise minutes, resting energy, etc., for tracking in your favorites list. When it is connected with a fitness tracker or a smartwatch, it records sleep cycle and heart rate.
Samsung Health is a goal-oriented and interactive fitness app; it keeps you motivated with its gamifying techniques. For example, you can compete with friends or even be a part of a global challenge to get badges for your accomplishments.
By providing detailed graphs for each day, it demonstrates the progress of your nutrition, sleep, stress levels, heart rate, and level of activity.
Google Fit focuses on two critical metrics: general activity and heart rate to improve a user’s overall health. It also focuses on the users’ move minutes to foster more movement and less relaxing at one place throughout the day. The Google Fit’s interface and actionable coaching tips help you see how better you need to accomplish your everyday goals. For tracking your eating habits, you can add your nutrition data manually.
How do Wearable Devices and Health Insurance relate?
Wearable technology and health insurance relate because wearables have many different applications for the health insurance industry. These applications are value-added services for people, improved underwriting capabilities, and the ability to improve patient well-being.
Fitness tracking tools collect health-related data with the potential to generate insights about the wearer’s morbidity and mortality risk. Insurers are seeking to combine these metrics with data coming from other sources to create quicker underwriting decisions. So, they become less invasive to the consumers than the traditional methods. Insurance consumers often struggle to realize the value of products that provide long-term protection. Meanwhile, digital consumers expect more to get instant benefits and value experiential purchases.
With this challenging shift, insurers have to stay relevant when the product is being sold; it should be palpable and long-term. Enabling insurers to provide health-related insights to consumers, these devices help them to improve consumer health and well-being.
In addition to insurance protection, these devices help them provide more value to consumers and improve their relationship as a consumer-focused agreement.
How are Wearable Devices and Electronic Health Records Connected?
Several patients are increasingly using wearable devices to help them collect essential data and better manage their health. Collection of that data is not enough. The transmission of data to a clinician’s EHR is critical if the information is effectively incorporated into the patient care management process.
Clinicians should establish a connection between their EHRs and patients’ wearable devices to record their health progress. The interface between EHR and wearables is beneficial for both; patients with ongoing primary care and chronic care.
The cost and availability of EHRs can be discussed with an EHR vendor. While buying, you must make sure that the EHR you buy offers integration with wearables, incorporates external data into a patient’s medical record, and offers a feature for clinicians to view their patients’ data.
Wearable Technology in Healthcare Examples
The evolution of wearable tech and increasing demand from users have prompted telemedicine software development to develop more and more wearable devices. Some have pioneered the tracking and monitoring of health, while others are new in the market. So, here are some examples of wearables in healthcare:
Health and Wellness Wearables
Wearable devices are primarily used in the health and fitness sectors. Some smart devices such as an Apple Watch or a Fitbit initiated the way we track our heart rates and daily steps. Constantly reviewing them has become a part of everyday life for millions of people across the world.
With their collected data, these watches innately foster healthier lifestyles. Knowing how far you can run motivates you to push yourself more to win against your previous record.
Tracking your existing sleep habits can lead you to shifts that will help you with more sound sleep. In other words, fitness trackers and smartwatches are some of the best tools to promote the health and fitness journey.
Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors
The HeartGuide wearable blood pressure monitor may look like a typical smartwatch. However, an oscillometric monitor measures blood pressure and day-to-day activities- like distance traveled, calories burned, and the steps taken.
HeartGuide can hold as much as 100 readings in its memory, and all of these readings can be transmitted to connected HeartAdvisor, a mobile app, for analysis, comparison, and treatment optimization.
Biosensors are quite different from smartwatches and wrist trackers. With Philip’s wearable biosensor, a self-adhesive patch, patients can move around while the biosensor collects data on their heart rate, movement, temperature, and respiratory rate.
Some studies show that this wearable tech has reduced up to 89% of patient deterioration into uncertain respiratory and cardiac arrest. This indicates that wearables can improve patient health and perhaps lower staff workload.
What is the Future of Wearable Technology?
In the future, people will find more innovative wearable technology than just fitness trackers. There are going to be many more devices available in the market.
Size of wearables is already reducing with the improvements in material fabrication to form flexible electronics associated with smaller power sources that can power up instantly. Furthermore, combining wearable tech with an improved IoT for quick data exchange could set wearable for personal comfort, safety, and information right at your wrists, fingertips, or your dog’s collar.
Consumers highly use wearable gadgets for smart healthcare. Wearables providing immediate and convenient on-the-body access and data can help consumers stay healthy. These devices have another advanced feature: using the senses as per need; it allows one reason to be augmented in the absence of others.
For instance, a wrist device utilizes sensory substitution to carry speech as vibration patterns for deaf people. So, they learn to comprehend the patterns by associating each pattern with a sound. In the future, these devices are going to be more focused on safety. For example, recently, CES19 facilitated a personal alarm button to be worn on the wrist. Additionally, there are RFID-blocking wearables that help to avoid identity theft.
There will also be sunglasses with positional sensors to tell you where you are and in which direction you are looking.
It is also reported that hearables might be found more than wearables in the future. Hearables are good for consumers who are eager to hear location-specific audio. While wearing hearables, users will instantly be alerted about security incidents while walking on their usual path.
Unobtrusive Sensing and Wearable Devices for Health Informatics
Health informatics is a developing interdisciplinary area that aims to improve p-health. It primarily deals with accessing, transferring, processing, holding, retrieving, and using different types of biomedical and health information. Two major health informatics acquisition technologies are sensing and imaging. This article only discusses sensing technologies as well as the role of unobtrusive sensing in healthcare.
In healthcare, unobtrusive sensing is implemented in two ways:
First, with sensors in clothing, eyeglasses, shoes, gloves, ear-ring, and watch that consumers wear and experience unobtrusive sensing.
Second, sensors embedded in other smart objects like a mirror, car seat, a chair, mattress, and steering wheel, that interact with consumers also provide unobtrusive sensing.
With other technical advancements, sensing technologies have also been evolving. Now they are available in small, lightweight, and less intrusive clothing and small gadgets-based wearables with integrated routes. For many years, physiological measurement devices are widely used in clinical practices. After advances in data fusion, sensing, and networking, unobtrusive sensing and wearable devices with some unique features have transformed the way they were used before.
With the help of their wireless connectivity and widely accessible Internet infrastructure, these devices can give real-time information and simplify remote intervention to acute events in time. Events like epilepsy, stroke, and heart attack in medically underserved areas can be intervened using these devices.
Unobtrusive and wearable monitoring provides detailed health and fitness-related data via flexible displays or mobile phones. Their use promotes an active and healthy lifestyle, allows detection of health-related risks, and facilities preventative measures at an early stage.
Both wearables and unobtrusive sensing enable constant monitoring of physical movements, behaviors, physiological and biochemical parameters during day-to-day life activities. The most common measured metrics are blood pressure, heart rate, ballistocardiogram, blood oxygen saturation, ECG, body temperature, and physical workouts.
Are wearable devices safe?
Wearable devices can often expose people to unsafe situations because they emit radiation and can easily be hacked. Fitbits cause users some more health issues such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea while wearing them.
What are wearable devices used in healthcare?
Wearable devices are electronic devices that consumers wear to track their health data and control it. These fitness devices not only track health but also give wearers health recommendations. Fitbit and Apple Watch, Blood Pressure Monitor are a few examples of wearable devices.
Can wearable devices detect health abnormalities?
Yes, wearable devices can be used for different body parts to detect health abnormalities. There are eye-based wearables, head-based wearables, and wrist-based wearables employed to monitor other physiological and psychological parameters.
Those parameters are then used to diagnose different diseases.
Does wearable technology improve health?
Wearables can improve patient health by detecting health imbalances early and offering the features to share the data with healthcare providers. Using that data, care providers can suggest consumers take specific measures to improve their health.