Monday, July 22, 2019

Physician Tips: What is the Future of Wearables in Healthcare?

Fourth in a series on wearable healthcare devices for Fibronostics

The future of medical wearables is bright by all counts, the market is expected to reach $100 billion by 2027, according to market research and business intelligence firm IDTechEX. What is less certain is what impact these devices will have on healthcare. (published site)

One the one hand, many fear wearable devices will disrupt the patient-provider relationship and send people down a dangerous path of do-it-yourself healthcare. On the other hand, the potential for increased data, could result in providers being able make better informed and more timely clinical decisions.

Wearable medical devices hold promise of improving outcomes

In a review of wearable vital signs monitoring technology in the Journal Sensors, Duarte Dias and Jao Paulo Silva Cunha of the Biomedical Research and Innovation (BRAIN) Center for Biomedical Engineering Research in Lisbon, Portugal, found that wearable health devices are extending monitoring of human vital signs from the clinic to home and work with the potential of improving outcomes. The authors warned, however, the technology will need to overcome several challenges to realize that promise.

To become truly clinically useful, the authors suggest that wearable devices will need to integrate several biosensors, intelligent processing and alerts to support medical applications that connect with and interact with providers. In addition, it will be important to design the devices to user requirements and develop an integrated approach rather than as applications for single diseases.

Other challenges include technological, legislative and policy hurdles as well as privacy and interoperability issues. On the technological side the development of textile-based sensors will need to develop greater resistance to stresses such as those posed by ordinary chemical, mechanical and heat stresses of normal washing and drying of clothing.
Wearable health devices will require greater level of security

Owing to the special nature of health information and the vulnerability of wireless communication, security will need to be substantially stronger if people are to have enough confidence in the devices to use them. The Medtronic recall of insulin pumps due to just such a vulnerability is a real-world example.

Despite these challenges, a market study of wearable health devices by finds that two of the fastest growing segments will be in skin patches pegged to grow at compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2 percent in the next five years reaching $630 million in 2024. Vital signs monitoring will grow almost as fast at 21.7 percent CAGR to reach $980 million by 2024.

The report also warns that while remote data collection solutions will significantly increase healthcare efficiency, data security and privacy will remain key to widespread adoption.
Wearable devices that help detect, diagnose and treat have greatest value

As to what areas of healthcare wearable devices are likely to have the greatest impact, a survey by Endeavor Partners revealed that those that help diagnose, monitor and treat specific conditions would have the greatest value.

Medical wearables being developed to address a host of specific problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart arrhythmia, pain management, breast cancer that produce data compiled and analyzed for clinicians and other providers will lead to meaningful change in management of these conditions.

In an article on the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) appearing in the online journal IoT for All the tech company Jabil made the case that wearable health devices are poised to make significant changes in healthcare delivery as the technology shifts from fitness trackers to remote patient monitoring.

According to Jabil’s 2018 Connected Health Technology Trends survey, respondents say remote health monitoring has the potential to reduce hospitalizations, reduce the need for expensive treatments and potentially prevent certain medical conditions from developing into clinical problems. Nearly a quarter of the respondents said that the biggest opportunity for connected healthcare will be the detection of medical conditions or symptoms of illness.

Overall, as the technology of wearable healthcare devices grows in sophistication augmented with increased ability to analyze and evaluate the data, the future of wearable medical devices is poised to disrupt the current healthcare model, and move us to a much more proactive and preventive healthcare model with the promise of increased efficiency in healthcare delivery, reduced hospitalizations, lower costs and better health outcomes.

Fibronostics is committed to partnering with physicians and providers to improve patient care by offering the benefits of technology to improve lives,and deliver high-quality, life-improving disease education, evaluation and monitoring.

For more information contact us via email, or by phone at 1-888-552-1603.

Sources: IDTechEX report: Wearable Technology 2018-2028: Markets, Players, Forecasts. Jabil report: Inside Connected Health: Top Technology Trends.

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