The Growing Role of Wearables in Improving Healthcare
According to Gartner, the sale of wearable devices is going to jump by a whopping 26% in 2019 compared to 2018. Such stats, as well as the wide acceptance by the healthcare providers of the fitness wearables, makes one wonder whether this is just what the doctor ordered. So much so that many healthcare insurers are also going ahead and subsidizing the cost of the wearable for their customers! Prevention is better than cure, and all the data can enable bettering of the health of the population. Staying true to this principle 40% of the organizations are going to go for a full-blown roll out of the wearable-driven digital health ecosystem. The increasing availability of the wearables and the ease with which it can be incorporated into the ecosystem is facilitating the wide acceptance of wearables by both, enterprises as well as individuals, alike. It was only a matter of time before hospitals too jumped on the bandwagon.
Detecting Heart Failures: A growing number of practitioners have already realized the kind of potentials wearables hold in hospitals and nursing homes. SensiVest is one such wearable which is used by medicinal practitioners in and around hospitals in the United States for detecting impending heart failure. Based on military technology, it constantly monitors the parameters associated with heart failure and notifies the caregivers if they detect any anomaly. The Vest is currently in its trial period and primarily measures the amount of liquid in the patient’s lung
Detecting Seizures: On similar lines, MIT has come up with a wristband, Embrace, which will monitor stress or seizures. This device vibrates on detecting seizures and will notify the caregiver if it is not switched off by the person wearing it. Hospitals are also exploring the role of patches to monitor the vitals of a patient once the patient has been released from the hospital. One such example is Cors, a patch, which tracks the patient heart rate and is being used by the Lenox hospital in the US.
Remote Monitoring: There are many patients who are bedridden but not hospitalized. Many doctors and caregivers are extremely keen on monitoring the vitals of those patients too. Hence, for that, a LIVE device has come out which is put under the mattress of the patient and can monitor and transmit the readings of their vitals. It is a piezoelectric device which can be plugged into the nearest socket and slid under the mattress.
Fever Monitoring: The device with the most widespread use is the Fever Scout. It is a flexible patch which can be placed under the armpit of the child or the patient whose fever needs to be monitored. If the trend is showing a tendency of going beyond the normal, then they send out alerts and notifications to the caregiver. It works in tandem with a smartphone where the vitals can be visualized.
Premature Baby Monitoring: There are many niche scenarios also wherein wearables are going to play a big role in hospitals. One such critical one is the well-being of the prematurely born babies. These babies are susceptible to cognitive disorders. While they still may not be fully cured, they can surely be negated up to a certain extent through accurate monitoring and measures. Harvard has developed a nontoxic and a soft wearable sensor which can detect the movements and gives a better understanding of the child’s development. By catching them early, the impact can be greatly reduced.
Research: The underlying principle of wearables of transmitting sensorial data has been taken a step ahead and organs on a chip, and chips on a pill concept have become mainstream. Organs on a chip is a concept where a chip is placed on an organ which simulates the production of fluids and other mechanisms of an organ and the data generated through that contribute greatly to research. Similarly, chips on a pill, a concept already approved by the major drug authorities, has a camera embedded in the pill and takes pictures of your internal organs. All these factors fuel research which can make caregiving more effective.
What’s good news for the patients is that it is giving rise to a patient-centric model. The target of providing a better experience, improve health while driving down healthcare cost is better known as the triple aim framework. To adjust to this framework, payers, pharmaceuticals, and providers are having to recalibrate their business models. This new paradigm of the patient-centric model has given rise to the very important stakeholder in the ecosystem – the patient. A lot of responsibility is being transferred to the patients, and they are willingly lapping it up. As a first step, the patients are onboard to proactively monitor and manage their health. More often than not, patients are more than willing to do so. And by seeing them improve they feel empowered and stick to it. Similar steps are also taken by CROs and payers. Primary goal being improving health as well as generating customer loyalty. Many forward-looking speculators claim that the wearables will grow so much that our homes will become the new age hospitals with so many wearables coming in. No matter what the future hold, one cannot deny that wearables do enhance patient care and smart hospitals have already started incorporating those in their ecosystem. What about you?