Wearable and mhealth assist medicine in training healthcare personnel, in tackling those situations that may put a patient’s vital functions at risk and also in opening new ways for research and usability.
In this article, we are going to address the following points:
- Wearable market evolution in recent years.
- The benefits and applications of wearable technology in healthcare:
- Preventive treatment
- Assistance and remote control
- Self exploration and recognition of alterations
- Wearables and healthy lifestyles
- Economic advantages for healthcare centers, medical insurers and treatment costs
Wearables global growth
Wearable devices have a global market value 1000% higher than in the year 2012 and the forecast states it will double in the next three years. Its growth is quite similar to that of smartphones years ago.
The benefits and applications on the healthcare industry are indisputable:
“The caregiver doesn’t have to take his eyes or hands off of the patient to provide care, input information, maximizing their access to patient or subject information, and minimizing distraction”
In Google X´s science unit, lab work is being done with nanoparticles that will be able to travel through our bloodstream in order to detect certain types of cells that may be preneoplastic, or those that can identify markers associated to arteriosclerosis and diagnose an ischemic event; in this regard, these devices will send a signal to another device outside the patient’s body and in turn broadcast that information to the healthcare professional.
This is a way of preventing a possible cancer, an ictus or myocardial infarction.
A device such as a wristband or a necklace is able to monitor our physical condition and psychological status anytime anywhere. It works by registering our vital signs, respiratory and heart rates, etc, and by informing the patient or the healthcare professional about alterations in them.
It also provides very useful information to accomplish more effective treatments and to better understand our organism’s performance.
Preventice is a great example as it is a non-invasive device with sensors remotely connected to the hospital that monitors the activity.
Wearables and insideables: Assistance and remote control.
The possibility of inserting implants under the skin through a simple procedure by using local anesthesia and without the need for batteries or a subsequent extraction, offers the opportunity to control the frequency and dosage of a particular treatment on an individual basis.
The range of possibilities is quite substantial. This technology can be applied to detect unstable levels of nutrients and to set the required dose, or to detect risk situations on patients who suffer pathologies such as diabetes, anaemia or hypertension without the need of medical assistance.
Self exploration and recognition of changes
Breast cancer is the most common among women. According to the WHO, in 2013 more than 508.000 women died due to this.
Almost 50% of the cases and 58% of these deaths took place in less developed countries where, most of the time, it is diagnosed in a very advanced stage.
Prevention, attention and early diagnosis of this type of cancer, as well as in many others, is crucial to save the lives of those affected.
Wearable technology, the news medical equipments and devices can help us carry out frequent self exploration tests so to acknowledge our status, gaining time that is vital in most cases.
This is why Cyrcadia Health has developed a smart patch that registers and analyzes changes in cell tissue.
Wearables and healthy lifestyles:
The increasing use of wearables in society encourages healthy lifestyles, providing people with more information about themselves and their surroundings, even to the point of informing in real time on city spots, so critical for asthma patients or controlling their diets and eating habits.
“The combination of passive (sensor mediated) observation and proactive life-style strategies for disease suppression can define a new era of health and wellness”
Economic and productivity advantages for healthcare centers, medical insurers and treatment costs
For the last twenty years, the most important problem in the healthcare industry has been as shown below:
Source: From the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC (R.K.); Harvard Business School, Boston (N.R.S.); and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (N.R.S.).
For the last two decades, investment on healthcare has increased more rapidly than in other industries, but there has not been a hike in productivity.
Jobs will be on the rise owing to population growth and that means labor costs will continue soaring.
Politicians as well as taxpayers situate healthcare costs under extreme pressure, seeking traditional alternatives such as cuts or staff replacement (lower costs on less qualification).
For this reason, the implementation of innovation is essential, based on technology that substantially optimizes results and productivity.
Among the many benefits obtained by wearables technologies for patients and medical personnel, we find those of an economic nature.
Disease early-stage detection translates into important savings on treatment costs, interventions and time.
They contribute to the digitization of newly generated medical information, allowing for a faster and more accessible recovery.
“Digital Health: the convergence of the digital and genetics revolutions on health, healthcare, living, and society—is growing rapidly and having a profound impact around the globe.
The value provided by digital health and related wearable tech devices includes fostering better health, improving access to healthcare, increasing the quality of medicine, and reducing costs for healthcare systems, consumers, and many other stakeholders.”
The interest in these technologies has emerged in the healthcare industry and the number of developers of these products continues to grow.
In the Healthcare industry, tools like Streye, checklist and streaming software for Google Glass are designed to help managing tasks, create collaborative environments between professionals via Streaming, and visualise images from endoscopic devices without losing focus on the task in hand. It can increase productivity, save costs and therefore reduce annual costs in health centers and hospitals.
The implementation of wearables in healthcare centers has begun and that is evidence that benefits for professionals, patients and businesses are real and tangible.
To summarize with respect to wearables implementation in healthcare, we must be aware of the following conclusions:
- Actual market value growth is quite important.
- Applications and benefits in healthcare are far-ranging and interesting because:
- They improve preventive treatments.
- They offer new forms of assistance and remote control.
- They facilitate self-recognition of early-stage alterations.
- Encourage healthy lifestyles.
- They offer advantages and solutions to economic and productivity issues the healthcare industry has been dealing with for the last twenty years.