Wearables are quickly becoming all the rage, and it’s easy to see why. They’re an easy way to track health progress in a very digestible way. People intrinsically have a fear of their health and it declining, so something like a Fitbit that gives them easy-to-read information and reassurance that they can get fit by taking just a few more steps is a load off to them.
This is visible in a simple statistic – a Gartner study reports that 68.1 million fitness trackers were expected to be sold in 2016, with that number going up by about 50% in a year.
The reason is simple. Pedometers were popular back in the day, but these devices offer more sophisticated knowledge. A pedometer had a digital screen that told you how many steps you’d taken, but a Fitbit can measure a person’s heart rate, calories consumers, distance traveled, speed and even a person’s sleep patterns. This is all possible because of sensors the devices contain.
A question we must ask is this – these sensors can track this kind of simple data, and since that is the case, why can’t doctors use similar technology to help patients?
Problems and Solutions
We know that wearable fitness devices, but there’s also another statistic to be aware of. A study done by Endeavor Partners discovered that more than half of the consumers in the United States that bought these activity trackers no longer used them. The reason is because despite the information provided by these Fitness trackers, there’s no real quantitative readout of a person’s success unless they provide one for themselves.
The good news is that there is work being done to solve the problem. Some apps like Lark can track a workout via smartphone sensors and act as a personal coach that a user can chat with through the app. The app analyzes a person’s activities throughout the days, offering compliments and suggestions on how to improve. Exist is another web app that examines a person’s habits through their other services, from Spotify to Fitbit, and adjusts fitness goals for them through this data.
The cherry on top is Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform. This is a cloud-based storage system that captures and transmits data from these wearable devices and sensors so that other parties can have access to the data, including caregivers and patients. Their mobile products collect the data through short-range radios, encrypt it and then send it to the cloud platform.
There’s another piece to this puzzle. Qualcomm Life’s HealthyCircles Care coordination platform is an SaaS solution that is intended for use by care-teams. When the data from a mobile device is synced to this platform, a care-team can utilize it to track a patient or render aid. A reading that is detrimental, for instance, can trigger an alarm for a nurse or doctor to contact a patient.
Through this kind of technology, wearable devices can all become common in a doctor’s repertoire. The more these systems are integrated into the medical field, the more the culture changes. Soon wearable devices can become commonplace and help patients the world over.
In conclusion, healthcare and digital health systems have more and more over stretched over the years. Wearables can be significantly important if we understand them and use them as best friends. Wearable technologies are on the rise every day, more innovative solutions are entering the marketplace every day, which is an indicator of the size of the opportunity although there are many challenges and those can only be overcome when Doctors, Solutions and Patients are aligned and ready to receive them.
In previous years, many experts defended that 2015 or 2016 was the year of Wearables. However I strongly believe that the best year is yet to come and 2017 is looking very promising in taking innovations and healthcare stakeholders to a complete new level to further serve nations worldwide.