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Uses of Wearable Technology in Healthcare

Wearable Healthcare Technologies
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Wearable Healthcare Technologies

Within the last decade, advancements in healthcare technology have been the entire buzz. More specifically, there has been a rise in uses of wearable technology in healthcare. The reason is simple: mobile health apps have altered the way that patients and healthcare professionals interact. Today, with over 75% of adults in the United States owning a Smartphone and nearly 90% of overall online time being spent on apps, it is reasonable to wonder what the future holds for the healthcare industry. By 2018, over 70% of healthcare organizations will invest in technological advancements including wearables, healthcare apps, remote monitoring, and virtual care.

From affordability of healthcare services to quality of patient care, the smart wearable healthcare market is expected to grow from $2 billion in 2014 to $41 billion in 2020. New findings have emerged on how mobile apps and wearables are transforming the healthcare industry, driven by four factors:

Increase in patient-physician relationships

More than 50% of physicians have stated that online visits can replace over 10% of office visits, allowing them to communicate with patients online. Mobile apps can also help physicians make or support their clinical decisions. What’s more, over 30% of patients revealed that they would communicate and share data from health apps with their physicians online.

Greater personalization of medical care

93% of physicians use mobile technologies within their practices for work-related tasks and more than 60% spend their online time looking for information on diagnoses, diseases, pathogens, treatment methods, and other topics. 96% of patients agree that uses of wearable technology in healthcare can help improve their quality of life. In fact, countless individuals are using these apps on a daily basis in order to monitor their physical activity and symptoms, track their nutrition and calorie intake, as well as receive medical reminders.

Self-management of diseases and prevention

A significant number of individuals believe that uses of wearable technology in healthcare (health and fitness apps) help them to maintain healthier habits. What’s more, physicians are stating that mobile apps are becoming a way to increase awareness among the online health community. According to a recent survey, over 65% of physicians’ would prescribe health apps to help patients manage chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes. 50% also believe that health apps can increase the effectiveness of treatment methods. In one study, an ECG was connected to a Smartphone in an attempt to diagnose and help treat patients with sleep apnea. The sensors allowed for data to be collected and monitored among severely ill elderly patients, resulting in improved outcomes.

Improved medical education, training, and teamwork among healthcare professionals

Around 80% of both physicians and patients believe that uses of wearable technology in healthcare have the potential to improve their lifestyle and make it more convenient. Mobile devices are also used among medical students to help them perform calculations, receive access to information on various medical conditions and medications, as well as jot down their experiences. In one instance, physicians who used mobile health apps during advanced life-support training had greatly improved their scores during cardiac arrest simulation testing. Furthermore, mobile apps, such as vCath and Touch Surgery, can be used for simulated surgery training to help improve medical students’ knowledge and skill levels.

The top four mobile health apps that are revolutionizing healthcare in 2017 are:

  1. Digital Pharmacist – the goal being to allow pharmacists to communicate with their customers and make the prescription process much simpler and more convenient
  2. Insight Optics – the goal being to allow patients to share data on their eye health with their ophthalmologists and receive valuable insight
  3. Medici – the goal being to allow patients to communicate with their physicians about their health and avoid unnecessary office visits
  4. TalkSpace – the goal being to allow patients to communicate with licensed therapists whenever convenient and based on their needs

These mobile health apps can be extremely helpful in serving as sensors or displays for improved clinical decision-making. Moreover, they can prove useful in helping healthcare professionals identify appropriate tests and examinations, thus decreasing the need for unnecessary, invasive procedures and reducing overall costs of care. In fact, remote patient monitoring technologies could save the healthcare sector over $200 billion over the next two decades. In the years to come, it will be remarkable to see just how mobile health apps will continue to change and become adapted in the changing climate of the healthcare sector.

Today, 1 in 5 Americans own some type of wearable technology and those who use this type of technology believe that it has improved their lives. Healthcare professionals are also very interested in wearable technology for several reasons – increased self-awareness, better health management, more accurate medical data, motivation, mobility, and accountability. Mobile health apps and wearable healthcare technologies have the potential to transform several aspects of clinical practice and to open up a variety of opportunities. They can decrease patient wait times, restructure administrative processes, enable better management of pharmaceutical inventory, and provide quick access to relevant information from remote locations. Furthermore, they can help physicians accurately diagnose medical conditions and help medical students access medical resources and literature. Above all, digital technology can improve the quality of health care by delivering healthcare services more efficiently, thus improving patient care.

Such innovations promise great advantages; however, critics are pointing out that there are pros and cons of wearable technologies to consider.

Series NavigationPros and Cons of Wearable Technologies >>

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