How smart weartech can solve real healthcare problems
October 7, 2020 | 1887 Views
While wearables such as smartwatches and other lifestyle accessories have been around for some time, companies have started to create wearable healthcare devices over the years, with the size of the hardware shrinking. These include sensor technologies that collect a range of variables that can be used to monitor or track a person's health.
Smart weartech refers to healthcare wearable gadgets that humans can wear to track a range of health indicators, including the ebb and flow of brain waves and glucose levels, among other things, which can be controlled through a mobile app. With new technologies such as IoT devices, these intelligent wearables support medical professionals and improve patient outcomes, saving lives.
As per data from MarketsandMarkets, the market for wearable tech will be worth $56.8 billion by 2025. Market analysis by Grand View Research estimates the global market size of wearable medical devices at USD 13 billion in 2019, expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 27.9% by 2027.
How would intelligent wearables Improve Healthcare?
Over the years, the emergence of several cutting-edge technologies has helped solve some of the issues with IoT and devices, such as battery life, making them more dependable for healthcare applications.
Exposure notification systems
With Bluetooth, smart wear tech devices can exchange anonymous identifiers with other nearby devices, thereby allowing hospitals or other healthcare facilities to log the contact with another device when it is within a specified distance. It can help in tracking a patient's exposure to a virus. These devices can also track other variables, such as temperature or other symptoms, to help monitor the threat of contagion.
Remote monitoring of patients
Besides monitoring and notification of potential exposure and its corresponding threats, these devices also help monitor noncritical indicators, saving precious time for healthcare professionals. For instance, wearables such as patient tags, badges, rings, or wristbands can remotely track a patient's vitals, such as temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, allowing healthcare professionals to focus their efforts on patients who need critical care.
Tracking equipment or machines
Hospitals find it quite challenging to track the location of medical equipment and machines, as these assets are often not replaced immediately after use, resulting in the hospital staff wasting their time trying to locate the equipment when needed. By using beacons or sensors to tag these assets, the location of equipment can be easily traced, thereby saving time and lives.
On-site navigation of healthcare facilities
In large hospitals, navigating the facilities can pose a challenge, specifically since GPS features on smartphones don't work indoors or help locate a particular room. By placing smart beacons in various locations inside medical buildings or facilities, patients can use an app on their smartphone to navigate through the building instead of waiting for medical staff to assist them.
Benefits of using intelligent wearables in Healthcare
Healthcare-competent smart weartech offers a range of benefits to medical professionals and patients alike, such as prevention and maintenance of health conditions, more efficient patient management, and disease management.
Disease prevention and health maintenance
With technological advances, intelligent wearables can find several applications in monitoring patient health and providing timely intervention to prevent disease. For instance, in countries, with a large aging population, providing preventive intervention for risks such as falls, which result in hospitalization or death, can be challenging. Intelligent wearables can help by monitoring and analyzing data, such as gait analysis, to detect disruptive patterns likely to result in falls and provide intervention to prevent them.
The sedentary behavior that is an outcome of modern lifestyles adversely s a person's health advert smart weartech can be used to issue reminders to exercise or check one's posture, positively impacting a person's well-being.
Stress detection can help monitor mental conditions by measuring physiological indicators such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature, among other vital signs. It can help to identify when a person needs medical or clinical intervention.
While wearable devices are widely used in sports for monitoring and tracking heart rate and activities, their application can extend to sports medicine. Tracking and monitoring indicators such as exhaustion, detecting heat stroke, or even an athlete's recovery rate can prevent the risks of overtraining, thereby improving performance and minimizing injury.
Healthcare wearable devices can help make patient management more efficient in hospitals by remotely monitoring several categories of patients to improve their health outcomes.
In many cancer survivors, sedentary behavior and physical inactivity are common, which can lead to obesity and negatively impact their long-term recovery. By providing intervention through reminders to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior, these devices can make home-based rehabilitation more effective.
For patients recovering from strokes, smart weartech can remotely monitor their vitals and activity, providing feedback to therapists. It can help reduce the costs of treatment and hospitalization and support the process of a home-based recovery.
By remotely transmitting physiological data to healthcare providers, wearables can help patients recovering from spinal cord or brain injuries rehabilitate at home while improving their motor skills.
Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease require long-term rehabilitation and management. Intelligent wearables can provide a cost-effective option for rehabilitation by monitoring and sharing the patient's vitals and progress on exercise assignments.
Wearable devices offer several possibilities for managing heart disorders, including devices that monitor ECG, heart rate variability, and heart activity monitoring systems. The advantage is that it monitors the patient's heart activity outside the clinical environment and during everyday activities to provide a more accurate picture of the patient's condition.
Wearable devices such as blood pressure sensors, upper arm pressure monitors, and remote monitoring technologies can help improve hypertension management. Besides continuous monitoring of blood pressure and alerting healthcare providers, if intervention is needed, these devices can also help with simple daily tasks such as medication reminders.
For patients with diabetes, wearable devices paired with apps can facilitate self-care by monitoring glucose levels from sweat, thereby reducing the cost of Healthcare.
The long-term management of Parkinson's disease requires the collection of several sources of data that aid in diagnosis. For instance, the 10-second whole-hand grasp is one of the criteria used to measure the severity of bradykinesia – one of the primary symptoms of the disease. Intelligent wearable tech devices can help record kinematic data for preventive intervention and measure the effectiveness of treatment in the home environment.
Healthcare wearable technology can also assist with screening, diagnosis, and monitoring patients with psychiatric disorders, such as depression, by using variables such as Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to measure and monitor mood states to provide intervention when needed.
Challenges of intelligent wearables in Healthcare
The success of healthcare variables in providing an inexpensive and more efficient alternative to hospitalization depends mostly on how well users will accept these devices in both the clinical and home environments. The advanced sensor technology that can monitor the patient's vitals and other variables isis useless if patients and Healthcare professionals do not accept them.
From a patient's perspective, these devices should be compact, comfortable, easy to use, and maintained so that they do not affect the person's daily life. Healthcare professionals should see the benefits of these intelligent wearables assisting their daily tasks and improving efficiency instead of threatening to replace their services.
Privacy and security
Since these wearables collect a wide range of data from an individual, patient confidentiality and data security remain among the major concerns, especially with the need for compliance with HIPAA regulations.
Besides encrypting data before transmission and implementing keys or certificates for authentication, secure WBAN communications are essential for preventing eavesdropping or interruptions since the data is transmitted over wireless networks.
While smart weartech offers the opportunity to measure and customize an individual's experience in social and home environments, it raises several ethical concerns. For instance, the methodology used to gather data and variables for conceptualization and interpretation might be intrusive and often unauthorized.
The risk of too much data
Whereas wearables offer the benefit of collecting vast amounts of personalized patient data, they also present the risk of generating too much data or noise. Some of the data might be irrelevant or redundant, providing spurious data or complicating clinical decision-making.
How wearable health tech devices are Redefining the Future of Healthcare
Despite the challenges they are likely to face until they gain wide acceptance among users, over the past few years, some wearable healthcare devices are demonstrating how they can contribute to making healthcare systems more efficient. Let's take a look at how intelligent smart weartech can transform the future of Healthcare:
Personal EKG devices
These pocket-sized portable devices can record several heart health variables, detect tachycardia, bradycardia, atrial fibrillation, and heart rhythm, and transmit the data to a smartphone within 30 seconds, allowing medical professionals to review the patient's condition instantly.
Women's health and Well-being
Wearables can provide insights into several variables related to a woman's health, from tracking period cycles and fertility to monitoring weight, sleep quality, and stress during pregnancy.
These wearables are attached or worn against a patient's skin and are non-invasive. They record various variables, such as heart rate, HRV, respiration rate, and ECG, which can be transmitted to medical professionals for analysis and diagnosis.
In situations where hospital beds are in high demand, the prospect of remote monitoring of patients who do not need critical care can reduce the burden on hospitals and healthcare facilities. Wearables are designed to monitor and track patients' movements, activity, and vitals remotely and then tit the data for medical professionals to provide better outcomes for patients and healthcare providers.
Undeniably, wearable healthcare devices are paving the way for the future of Healthcare. With more and more companies and startups developing advanced devices and technology that can reduce the current challenges of smart weartech and make them more sophisticated and reliable, these devices could help minimize human intervention unless critical.
By automating routine processes and collecting health-related variables that can be used for monitoring, diagnosis, and intervention, these wearables can make Healthcare more efficient, benefiting both medical professionals and patients.
TechAhead has experience developing mobile and web apps for healthcare companies and startups. Our team has expertise in creating IoT application development solutions that reduce human intervention in Healthcare and the automation of healthcare processes that help make the system more efficient.
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