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How Wearables Can Improve Healthcare
Wearables have become the most convenient way to track fitness and health stats. From counting steps and calories burned to monitoring blood pressure and tracking sleep patterns, health apps on your smartphone and smartwatch can tell you just how good of shape you’re in–and whether or not you need to take action to improve your health.
There’s been a positive trend of doctors and hospitals asking patients to use wearables, with organizations like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Carolinas Healthcare System actively calling on patients to use wearables for tracking of health data and analysis. Hopefully, other organizations follow.
Healthcare facilities need physicians ready to encourage patients to wear devices, as it could be crucial in improving patient outcomes and increasing efficiency. Here’s why:
Wearables can prevent a life-threatening event
Consider this scenario: A 53-year old man buys a smartwatch so he can more easily stay in contact with coworkers and family while in transit. He also finds the health data information interesting and starts checking it. After a few weeks of use, he discovers he has an irregular heart rhythm. Concerned, he calls his doctor, who gets him on proper medication and potentially prevents a life-threatening heart attack.
Makers of wearable technologies, like FitBit, have been working to better track and warn of heart attack risk. This is important, considering cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization.
These devices are becoming increasingly advanced, and expanding beyond just checking blood pressure and heart rate. For instance, the Apple Watch can check blood glucose levels so people can see if they have an increased risk of diabetes. You can also track nutrition to make sure you’re getting the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, protein, calcium, and other key nutrients.
Wearables provide more timely and accurate data
As an article in Healthcare IT News states, “Studies have shown in recent years that the quality of data in many electronic medical records is often not very good.” This is often due to simple mistakes, like typos or inaccurate data from patients
Use of wearables can make collection of data more objective. Additionally, the process can be automated through Internet of Things (IoT) applications and machine-to-machine communication. Wearables can directly send data to their healthcare provider’s computer system, and that information will be recorded in real time.
By enabling communication between a patient’s device and the healthcare organization, data no longer becomes susceptible to human error or human subjectivity. This will give doctors better information and enable them to create more customized and effective treatment strategies.
IoT devices can make healthcare more effective and improve quality of life
What it comes down to is that wearables can empower people to be proactive–rather than reactive–about their health. This makes the whole healthcare system more efficient. And it leads to better outcomes.
How can it do this? Well, wearables can make preventive medicine much more efficient by providing real-time patient data to doctors and ensuring healthcare resources are allocated and deployed most effectively.
As Independence Blue Cross, an insurance company, notes, preventive care is “the care you receive to prevent illnesses or diseases,” which also includes counseling to live a healthier lifestyle and reduce the risk of health problems. Integrating use of wearables into this process surely makes sense and surely will help.
Note: There is some debate as to whether preventive care saves money. Some expert estimates say greater use could reduce total healthcare spending by 0.2%, while others say it costs more money. However, most agree it improves quality of life, even if it comes at an added price. Wearables can make preventive medicine even better.
Making wearables work for your healthcare organization
Clearly, wearable devices offer so many benefits that their use must be considered. For your organization to successfully get your patients to wear such devices, you need doctors, nurses, and other staff that are enthusiastic about embracing this new tech product. With the right team and the right strategy, your hospital and your patients can reap the benefits of using wearables.