From iPhone apps which monitor your sleep to the Fitbit or OMbra monitoring your breathing rate, heartrate and exercise habits, wearable devices have become all the rage. Yet, despite the hype of wearable technology in the commercial field, there is not a broad understanding of the incredible implications of the recent developments.
Yearly visits to the doctor’s office are a given for most of us. These regular check-ins allow for a basic evaluation of a patient’s wellbeing and overall health. To a patient, this may seem like plenty. As the old saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
For doctors, however, these visits are only able to give a glimpse into the general health and habits of their patients. The other 364 days of the year remain a mystery. Self-reported data is notoriously unreliable in any field but, without a trained eye knowing what early warning signs to note, patients may be incapable of providing doctors with the information they need to diagnose problems.
Wearable technology provides doctors the previously impossible ability to monitor a patient’s overall health throughout the year. Habits and health trends that previously may have gone unreported or unrecognized can be collected, allowing doctors better insight into how to treat and diagnose their patients.
The potential uses for wearable technology are vast. Doctors could setup cost effective appointment that take place in the comfort of your own home. Chronic conditions can be monitored day to day and the effectiveness of medication taken overtime can be tracked.
As with all new technology, there are problems to work through. One of the main concerns is digital security. Hacking and theft of medical information is a serious matter. Patients’ health, even more than their data, must be secure if it’s made digital. In one instance, a hacker determined how to gain remote access to a wireless insulin pumps. This potentially fatal security breach has left consumers and the medical field on high alert.
Despite these potential vulnerabilities, the benefits of wearable technology are immense.
Nearly 25% of Americans have a wearable device. Only about half of them continue to use the devices after the initial 6-month novelty period. However, researchers have found that, if a wearable device was provided to consumers specifically for healthcare purposes, over half of users would be more than happy to use a wearable device regularly, especially if it lowered their healthcare premiums.
With an aging population, wearable technology shows the potential to allow consumers to have greater access to their healthcare with lower costs and better treatments. To make this future a reality, it is important that consumers are allowed to see the potential benefits of these devices in their everyday life.