With Wearable Devices, Preventive Medicine Takes an Important Turn
Today’s vulnerable population is living longer than any other generation before it. One of the reasons for this is better monitoring options for both patients and doctors. This type of observation is increasingly performed in real-time through wearable devices, which have taken preventive medicine in an exciting direction.
Long a popular solution for personal fitness tracking, smartwatches and similar wearable devices are embraced by healthcare professionals to track critical metrics in patients. When doing so, it’s now possible to detect early chronic conditions and acute diseases. This type of monitoring isn’t just crucial for the patient. The many benefits of wearable devices also make it easier for doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff to handle current needs and provide greater efficiency for the organization they represent as a whole.
Mason is one of the leading providers of hardware and the underlying platform and logistics needed to build healthcare products, including a wearable for providers in the industry. The company’s solutions are flexible, secure, and take into account the latest regulatory standards.
Wearable Devices: A History
Google’s Fitbit and Apple weren’t the first two organizations to bring wearable devices to the consumer market. For this, you’d have to go back to the mid-1970s when the first calculator wristwatch was released. Digital hearing aids followed a decade later. However, it wasn’t until Bluetooth caught on in the early 2000s that we saw the first wearables focused on personal fitness and wellness, such as the Nike iPod and early Fitbit models. Then came the Apple Watch in 2015, and everything changed.
The wearable device, like the smartphone it was attached to, offered native and third-party apps. Many of these focused on helping the wearer achieve better health by tracking workouts and monitoring heart rates. However, as hardware improved, dedicated devices have started taking over this space, especially as companies are starting to shift their focus and resources to the larger healthcare sector. Today, wearable medical devices can monitor and detect heart rates, blood oxygen and blood sugar levels, and much more. With a patient’s permission, this information is now accessible to doctors and other healthcare professionals in real-time. In turn, a patient can receive better insights and more accurate diagnoses.
But there’s more. As patient monitoring grows and becomes more accepted and mainstream, doctors and individuals alike can unlock important insight about the larger population and better tackle current health risks.
Where Things Are Headed
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine was catching on as an alternative to the traditional doctor office visit. Combined with remote healthcare monitoring, the medical community rapidly finds new ways to diagnose problems much earlier than ever before.
In the coming years, technology and achieving broad acceptance will each play an essential role in determining whether remote monitoring of patients for wellness and prevention is game-changing or whether it fades out. So far, wearable technology in healthcare has improved many folds so the data collected is increasingly more accurate and secure. In addition, breakthrough technologies could take remote monitoring for day-to-day patient care to game-changing new levels.
Imagine a wearable device that could detect the early onset of a disease like Alzheimer’s or one that detects when a patient is depressed or suffering from immediate respiratory problems that require immediate intervention. These illustrations aren’t simply written down on a wish list. Instead, they are part of current studies that utilize wearable devices.
Examples of Wearables
For example, Newcastle University in the U.K. has found that impairments with gait speed, symmetry, and stride length are possible signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. Therefore, experts are currently testing individuals remotely and in-person using healthcare wearables to track those components.
Elsewhere, people in the medical community are using wearable devices to collect physiological data to provide assessments of patients in real-time. Using this data, professionals can deliver a personalized, interactive, noncontact healthcare solution remotely.
A similar movement is happening in respiratory medicine, where diagnostic devices monitor a patient’s biochemical parameters on a 24/7 basis. Specifically, the technology is now in place to track pulse oximetry, pulmonary ventilation, activity tracking, and air quality. Once again, the data collected from wearable devices make it easier for professionals to create personalized treatments for the ones being monitored. In addition, depending on the number of participants, they can also use this information to help the greater community.
Further adoption of wearable devices in the medical field won’t just rely on the next big thing. There’s also the human component. Whatever the tools, each new generation of wearable devices must be easier and more comfortable to use than the last. They must also avoid common technical issues or false alarms that would be just enough to convince a patient to take the device off. Finally, the collected data needs to be appropriately secured and only available to those with permission. No one wants their private information leaked.
What Are Wearables?
As with many other forms of digital technology, wearables and mobile devices can considerably increase the e
Wearable technology is typically based on conventional electronics that are either rigid or bendable and powered by a battery. Ideally, these devices have a long-lasting battery with low consumption and can transfer data wirelessly, securely, and accurately.
Until now, wearable devices in healthcare have largely meant smartwatches or similar products, and with good reason. This type of wearable device is easy to view and doesn’t require stopping the current activity. Additionally, smartwatches are tracking motion, measure pulse, and detect blood pressure. Among the smartwatches for healthcare is Mason’s recently announced A4100.
Mason and similar companies are bringing innovative mobile solutions to healthcare, whether it be through smartphones, tablets, or wearable devices. Success is found with companies that create a seamless setup experience for both patients and professionals. Flexibility and providing fully integrated support are also important factors. Above all, it’s essential that any technology used by the public follows strict regulatory healthcare standards and features end-to-end control.
An Exciting Time
Using wearable devices in healthcare shows no sign of slowing down, and the future looks bright. These devices make it easier for patients and doctors to track and monitor key health metrics, no matter the location of either party. Where the use of wearable devices in the medical field goes from here is anyone’s guess.