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Wearable tech in healthcare

Updated: Jan 10

Market trends indicate an increase in the uptake of end-user wearable devices

with functions capable of monitoring health and lifestyle - even if just tracking you to the fridge and back.

This technology enables the wearer to collect useful data about themselves and their health – but how, and importantly, why?

Wearable devices are gadgets equipped with sensors and capabilities that enable sharing, such as Bluetooth, which collect data about the user and their surrounding environment. These are usually worn on the wrist as smartwatches and fitness trackers but products that take the form of rings, or adhesive patches are also available for consumer use, with the technology to become smaller and much more sophisticated in years to come.

Wearables are commonly used to track sleep and exercise but are also useful in the management of conditions like Epilepsy, and are especially valuable for ailments influenced by lifestyle, such as Diabetes and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Not only can the user log, review and share their own statistics; automatic data is collected 24 hours a day and alerts can be triggered when certain milestones or events are reached – daily step count achievement, a dip in vital signs or to flag concerning inactivity, such as a fall or a false alarm triggered by a particularly lengthily Netflix binge session.

These features provide motivation for the wearer, but can also build peace of mind for relatives and could free up time for health care teams when collecting and monitoring data, to better understand their patient and condition. The devices data-collection-cum-assistive-monitoring could prevent unnecessary appointments or hospital stays, and influence treatment that takes place.

Placing the wearer and their own data at the centre of their care, places the spotlight on their lifestyle choices and role in their own health too.

It is no wonder that insurers are taking an active interest in these devices

much in the same way careful drivers who allow monitoring devices to be fitted to their cars are rewarded for their caution, those who look after themselves, and prove it by using wearable trackers can benefit from affordable life insurance premiums or cashback schemes.

With so many aspects of life that we are now able to track, even if firmly from our own sofa, patient self-reporting looks to soon be backed up by real data to help health professionals get a true picture of wellness.

Let’s hope that the devices don’t become clever enough to tell our doctor that “I only have the occasional glass of red on special occasions” is a bit of a stretch of the truth.

Unless Tuesdays and Thursdays are now special occasions.

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