While wearable technology may seem like a concept of the future, it’s actually already integrated into our normal lives. Consider smartwatches or fitness trackers; people worldwide use these devices to track data such as heart rate, daily fitness, and even sleep patterns.
So, what if the same logic for these devices was geared towards healthcare? Leaders in the healthcare industry have taken these devices one step further, integrating them with telehealth platforms to collect patient data for medical purposes. Still, some patients are hesitant to embrace wearable technology, which is why we’ve assembled a list of all the ways that patients can benefit from wearable technology in healthcare.
Developments in telemedicine have made it possible for healthcare providers to care for their patients remotely. As a result of virtual consultations and visits, patients have more access than ever to obtain the care they need. Still, there is always room for improvement, which is why so many healthcare practices are integrating their telehealth solutions with wearable technology.
1. Build Healthy Habits
One of the most beneficial ways that many people are already using wearable technology is to help them build healthy habits. Devices such as smartwatches and Fitbits encourage users to track healthy decisions and set goals, such as walking a certain number of steps each day. While this may seem like a small goal, it helps users build healthy habits and maintain fitness and mobility in their everyday lives.
While it may not seem like something so simple could really change a patient’s life, small habits such as taking a walk every day can contribute to the prevention of diseases. Wearable devices can even encourage users through just-in-time coaching to create meal plans or practice breathing exercises. In doing so, users are gradually improving and maintaining their health.
For many patients, the path to recovery requires small steps, but it can be challenging to know where to start. With wearable technology, getting started and sticking to a routine is easy and convenient. As a result, patients can gradually improve their health without drastically changing their life.
2. Track Patient Data
When patients use wearable technology, the device will collect real-time data, in addition to storing historical data. Beyond counting steps, many wearable devices can track data such as a users’ heart rate, blood pressure, and even glucose levels. The device will collect and store data as it is recorded, automatically uploading it to the users’ telehealth platform. As a result, both patients and providers can review this data to use when making a diagnosis, treatment plan, or just performing a routine check-up.
These devices are beneficial to all patients, but especially those with chronic or ongoing conditions, such as diabetes. Patients can simply wear the device, and the rest is taken care of. The device will record all necessary health information for automation storage, ensuring that a patient’s health is monitored 24/7. Furthermore, these devices can alert patients when necessary, such as when blood sugar levels are low, notifying the user to take proper action.
As a result, patients can get the medical support they need without constantly contacting or meeting with their provider. Instead, they can go about their lives as usual; rest assured that their condition is managed responsibly.
3. Safety Assurance
Even beyond tracking routine data and sending reminders, wearable devices are also beneficial to patients in more emergent situations. For older patients or those with chronic conditions, wearable devices can identify signs of distress within a patient and take action. For instance, if a patient suffers a fall and cannot get up or shows signs of cardiac distress, the device will immediately alert emergency services. In doing so, the patient will get help as quickly as possible, increasing their likelihood of recovery.
Specific devices can include ECG monitors or biosensors, which can measure electrocardiograms, send readings to the patient’s doctor, and detect atrial fibrillation. As a result, these devices can provide help in emergency situations and reduce patient deterioration in conditions such as preventable cardiac or respiratory diseases.
Wearable technology is highly beneficial for patients who want to be independent or live alone but still need access to medical support at a moment’s notice. With these devices, patients can live as they please, knowing that help is easily accessible. With fast response times to user distress, patients can receive the help they need as quickly as possible, ultimately improving patient outcomes.
4. Improve Accuracy of Treatment
When it comes to one’s health, it is crucial that patients can regularly monitor their health and receive help when in distress. In doing so, patients can drastically improve their health and benefit from better outcomes. That being said, wearable technology can also help patients in the long run.
As the devices automatically collect and upload patient data to their telehealth platform, providers receive accurate real-time and historical data. As the data is converted into electronic health records (EHRs), providers can review this data to make decisions regarding a patient’s treatment, recovery, and diagnosis.
Furthermore, as this data is collected and uploaded by the patient’s personal device, it vastly reduces the risk of human error when collecting and sharing data. As a result, providers can be confident that the data they are using for decision-making is accurate. Consequently, providers can make a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for patients, leading to more effective and faster recoveries.
Telehealth: Less Than an Arm’s Reach Away
Telehealth has taught patients that effective healthcare can be easily accessible and convenient. Patients can obtain the care they need whenever they need it, from any location, and wearable technologies only bring patients closer to telehealth.
While wearing a medical device may sound daunting, these devices are already being used in our daily lives - we just don’t think of them as medical devices. With wearable technology, patient medical data can be tracked in real-time and stored for future use, ensuring that a patient's care is accurate and uniquely suited for their needs.
Even beyond receiving more accurate care, wearable technologies help patients build healthier habits and ultimately a healthier lifestyle. In doing so, patients can bring awareness to their health and work to prevent certain conditions and diseases. As most wearable medical devices are located on a patient’s wrist - quality healthcare is less than an arm’s reach away at all times.