- What is wearable health technology?
- Types and examples of medical wearable devices
- What are the pros and cons of health wearables?
- What are the regulations for medical wearable devices?
This past year has shown us how the healthcare industry needs to change and implement top-notch technologies. The pandemic pushed eHealth forward, and wearable health technologies have played a significant role because they allow physicians to conduct medical services remotely and monitor patient health without overburdening hospitals.
In this article, we are going to discuss why wearable health technologies are crucial for clinics.
What is wearable health technology?
Wearable technology, also known as wearables, is a category of electronic devices that users wear to monitor health conditions. These medical devices can also be embedded in clothing, implanted in the user's body, or even tattooed on the skin.
Wearable technologies in healthcare are innovative solutions to solve healthcare problems. These technologies can help with weight loss, health maintenance, rehabilitation, and the prevention of disease. Basically, healthcare wearables are designed for patients and help with disease management and remote health tracking.
The volume of the global market for medical wearable electronics in 2018 was $9.1 billion, according to analysts from Global Market Insights. According to the research company’s forecast, sales of these devices from 2020 to 2025 is expected to increase by 39% per year and will exceed $87 billion by the end of this time span.
Types and examples of medical wearable devices
Healthcare wearable technologies are in high demand, so there are a variety of wearables on the market.
Wearable fitness tracker
The most well-known health wearable is a fitness tracker, as a healthy lifestyle is a big trend in the global population and it’s very easy to track your fitness activities thanks to this technology. These wearables are equipped with sensors that track physical activity and heart rate, and they sync with a variety of smartphone apps.
These trackers help users obtain desired results quicker and more efficiently. There are different types of fitness trackers. The most popular is a step counter, which allows users to track the number of steps they take and calories they burn. Another option is a fitness training app that tells the user what exercises they should do to achieve their set goals. It can take the place of a personal fitness coach.
Smartwatches for healthcare
Wearable technology for healthcare patients can be worn on the wrist, and they are able to measure pulse, count the miles or kilometers traveled, the speed of movement, calories burned, and sleep phases. Some of them are equipped with separate medical sensors like a glucometer or cardiometer, which are sensors that track brain activity and stress levels.
VR glasses and helmets
Virtual reality (VR) devices are used for games and entertainment, but also in medicine. With their help, doctors can improve the quality of service and make a more accurate diagnosis, review images, tomography data, and ultrasound results in a 3-D format. VR devices can treat the post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), and help people who have lost limbs improve coordination and movement.
Wearable blood pressure monitors
In 2019, Omron Healthcare launched HeartGuide, the first wearable blood pressure monitor. Such devices can track blood pressure and daily activity like steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned.
Sensors that track physical indicators of the body, as well as analyze the environment, can be found not only in trackers and bracelets but can also be embedded in headphones and clothes. There are also smart devices that can be implanted in the body, as well as those that must be worn for health reasons like a prosthesis. These devices include insulin pumps, smart limbs, and organ prostheses, as well as sensors in the form of miniature subcutaneous implants.
This is another popular example of health wearable devices. These technologies have built-in sensors that help monitor the patient's condition. For example heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and body temperature can be transmitted to a doctor from such a device.
What are the pros and cons of health wearables?
Wearable devices in healthcare provide a variety of benefits, but they also have some significant drawbacks.
Pros of health wearables:
- Improves mHealth service standards
- Increases the general level of health of the population
- Provides new investment opportunities
- Reduces the cost of medicine
- Offers opportunities for research and development
Cons of health wearables:
- Wearables can be inconvenient to wear or too heavy, and some devices can show inaccurate data and results due to technological errors.
“Researchers at Iowa State University performed a study that tested the accuracy of wearable fitness trackers, such as the FitBit®, Nike+ FuelBand, and BodyMedia FIT.₁₅ Remarkably, the study found the tested wearable fitness trackers to be between 15 to 40% inaccurate in tracking user activity.”
What are the regulations for medical wearable devices?
The main concern of healthcare wearables is data protection. mHealth and other wearables that collect patient data should follow data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.
It is not clear if HIPAA rules apply to wearables, as HIPAA is intended to govern electronically transmitted data in connection with specifically defined transactions such as the submission of health claims to a health insurance provider for payment.
In just a few months, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted not only healthcare but also businesses and economies around the world. Much of the current news coverage in digital medicine is about remote solutions. Healthcare wearables are the main technology currently providing solutions to help with remote patient monitoring and management. If you are not currently using this technology in your practice, you should seriously consider it.
Archer Software experts are able to consult you on the matter of wearables technology and integration of devices of this sort. Do you need professional help? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.