5 Ways Wearable Technology is Impacting the Healthcare Industry

Wearable technology is impacting healthcare from the way we track our fitness to the way we manage pain. By 2018, there are expected to be more than 130 million wearables shipped to consumers in this country. One-in-five people own a wearable and most of these users believe their lives have been lengthened by ten years because of the devices. Employers note a drop of 44 percent in sick days among employees who wear the technology. Here are five ways wearable tech is changing healthcare in the U.S.

1) Promoting Patient Wellness

Approximately 20 percent of consumers have a wellness app on their phones. They track steps, heart rates and even monitor blood pressure. These devices motivate people to stay active and to monitor their food intake, signal them when they have been inactive too long and remind them to take medications. Wearables could help patients with diabetes monitor their glucose levels and those with heart problems to be aware of changes in heart rhythm. According to Forbes, sixty-six percent of doctors say they would prescribe a wearable for patients with chronic disease.

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2) Increase Patient/Physician Interaction

The devices can monitor and transmit data from the wearer to the clinician. If a face-to-face visit is indicated, it can be scheduled, but doctors say the wearables can reduce the amount of office visits by ten percent.

3) Remote Diagnosis Of Illness

Smart bras can detect breast cancer. There are also contact lenses that predict when patients with glaucoma are likely to worsen. Wearables can interpret the data they monitor to make cursory diagnoses. They can also transmit the data over secure networks allowing clinicians to collaborate on care, monitoring the same conditions in real time.

4) Provide Remote Treatment

Quell, a device that is wrapped around the upper calf, can block pain in any part of the body by stimulating the central nervous system. It is also being considered as a way patients can manage their morning sickness or reduce their anxiety. Livia is another device that can target the wave length of a woman’s menstrual pain and “tune it out.”

5) Independence For People With Disabilities

For example, there are special glasses that allow legally blind patients to see. Haptic shoes help blind individuals navigate by a series of sensors and vibrations. The shoes use GPS to tell the wearers when to turn, when to stop and even to notify them of obstacles in their way. Starkey’s Halo hearing aids allow hearing-impaired wearers to control their hearing aids through an iPhone app or a smart watch. They can even stream music directly into their ears through the device. Patients with spinal cord injuries can control their computers, their wheelchairs and their phones through a magnet that is glued to their tongues.

Nearly half of physicians who were surveyed said they would feel comfortable prescribing medications based on the data transmitted from a wearable. They also said they felt the devices would make people more responsible for their own wellness and encourage them to manage chronic conditions through their own interventions. The application of wearable tech to healthcare is almost limitless.

The devices have one shortcoming, however. Their success is limited by the amount of time the consumer uses the product. Half of people who own tech wearables don’t use them every day. Some devices need that consistency to learn a profile of the body’s normal functions. Still, these are only five of the ways wearable technology has impacted healthcare. The future will no doubt bring many more.