How Wearable Tech Could Influence Medical Services
‘Wearables’ have exploded over the last 10 years with many companies realising success by integrating off-the-shelf technologies in to their service or product range. These have tended to focus on monitoring personal health and wellbeing; however, wearable technologies could solve many of the problems that currently existing within the public health sector.
More effective patient monitoring
Have you ever visited a hospital and wondered how Nurses find time to monitor so many patients? My own experiences of a hospital environment are that a Nurses work is very rarely complete, and that the demands placed upon them are relentless throughout their 10 or 12 hour shift. The reality of this is that patient care can sometimes fall below the level that we all expect to receive.
So, could future wearable technology allow Nurses to more effectively monitor patients whilst providing them with the time to conduct other duties? And, could real-time monitoring help such caregivers to assess patients conditions more accurately and rapidly.
Early detection of conditions
According to GlobalWebIndex, 1 in 6 people own a smart watch or fitness tracker. Many of these devices are capable of monitoring vital signs such as heartbeat, temperature and activity levels. However, are we likely to see technology advances that allow wearable’s to detect early symptoms of serious medical conditions through monitoring perspiration and blood cell count? There are countless instances where a terminal condition could have been treated if only it had been detected sooner. Could wearable technology become a key instrument in the battle against cancer?
Enhanced understanding of conditions
When visiting the local GP, are we likely to see a change in the way they carry out their initial assessment? Will the traditional check with the auriscope or stethoscope be replaced by onscreen analysis of data harvested from a personal device? If medical professionals had access to such data that had been collected over a long period of time, it may better inform their diagnosis and recommended course of action. For instance, a highly accurate heart monitor worn over several months will give the Doctor a far greater insight than a 5 minute ECG recording.
Lower cost medical insurance
Motorists are currently being rewarded by their insurance providers with lower cost policies if they agree for their driving patterns to be monitored by on-board technology. Medical insurance providers could replicate this model by offering financial incentives to those customers who are willing to monitor their lifestyles using wearable technology. A lower cost medical insurance policy could encourage users to live healthier lives and ultimately reduce the amount of care they need to receive over their life-time.
Patient location tracking
In certain scenarios, being able to track the movements of a patient could be highly beneficial, especially for those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia and can lack awareness of their surroundings. The ability to quickly and accurately locate a patient would offer peace of mind to family members when their loved ones are under the care of others. However, there are many complex design challenges associated with developing wearable technology for this sector; for example, who would take responsibility for ensuring that the device was worn at all times, or even ensuring that the battery was regularly charged?