According to a February 2014 report by research firm Canalys, wearable tech will expand to become a “key consumer technology” this year. The firm predicts the smart wristband segment alone will grow from eight million to 23 million in 2015 and more than 45 million in 2017. Another research study at the end of the last year forecast that retail revenue from the wearable technology market will grow from $1.4 billion in 2013 to $19 billion in 2018.
I can’t help but wonder how easy technology is making it for the medical industry to move forward on lines unimaginable before.
I remember the time when I was a young boy and had to take my grandfather’s blood pressure reading through a digital device. It used to be a simple affair, except for the fact that if he moved his arm an inch during the 90-second testing period, the readings were not going to be correct. While it was a revolution from the mercury-based sphygmomanometers, with a digital display and all, it still was frustrating at times to take the readings again and again.
Now I see these wearable devices being introduced by technology giants, which not only give us various health readings in whatever circumstances we are, but also have the ability to track our periodic reports whenever we want. If we want to share them with our physician or anyone else, we can simply tap a button.
The data from wearable devices is automatically synced with our smartphones which makes it unbelievably easy to see heart rate, hydration levels, blood pressure, daily activity, nutrition level, blood sugar level, sleep cycle, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and weight. Before, you would at least require 12 different machines to get all these readings, which was a pain in itself. Now you just need to wear a gadget and, with a few taps of your smartphone, you have all the latest updates from your own body.
Some might argue that people are not concerned about making their own decisions when it comes to healthcare but patients in the digital age are becoming much more aware when it comes to their health. They can Google the diseases they get (thanks, WebMD), what medicines they should take, their side effects, and how long the recovery is. Sometimes I think they are even more aware than their physicians.
And physicians, despite doing their best to keep up with the industry news and latest trends, can sometimes fail to keep themselves up to date with the most modern methods being used in healthcare. I don’t blame them. They already have a lot on their plate.
Wearable tech is not just only helping patients. Physicians and regulatory bodies can also benefit from it in ways unthinkable before. They have the ability to access a huge amount of data which can be tracked not only to propose solutions to problems, but also to gauge healthcare trends in a particular area or even prevent the outburst of a specific disease altogether. This is revolutionary. This is fantastic.
And this is not it. Tablets and wearable glasses are actually being used in real time in emergency room departments to help surgeons perform their procedures. They can access parts of the human body they couldn’t even see before and can seek help from physicians in their network via real-time broadcast of the procedures they are performing. This technology adoption will only improve the quality of healthcare administered to patients. What’s more, it can considerably reduce cost, time and hassle for physicians.
It is time to think beyond the world of EHR as the only solution to the medical industry’s problems. It is time to wear our tech and keep our health in check!
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