Wearable technologies, 'wearables', have been a feature of life for a while now. The first fairly rudimentary health trackers were introduced in the form of the Fitbit Flex back in 2013, which allowed users to track their daily steps but not a lot else besides. But now, wearable technology in healthcare holds massive promise.
Use of wearable technology has more than tripled in the last four years. According to research from Insider Intelligence, more than 80% of consumers are willing to wear fitness technology - The Insider
Since the pandemic started, the wearable device and healthcare software development markets have exploded. Innovators are taking huge steps—pardon the pun—towards integrating wearable technology in healthcare practices. This article explores the types of healthcare wearables, their key use cases, benefits and constraints of the technology.
The market has undergone a major evolution since those first activity-tracking devices hit stores. And although the fitness and wellbeing wearable is sticking around, albeit in its enhanced and refined form, a host of other wearable technologies have joined the race.
Apple's Series 6 Watch, which was released in 2020, has cutting-edge telehealth features such as enhanced sleep-tracking and heart-monitoring capabilities—including FDA-approved electrocardiogram technology—and even Blood Oxygen saturation monitoring. It's not the only smartwatch or fitness tracker out there, however. According to Wareable, wearable tech shipments increased by 24% in 2020, with Apple, Fitbit, Garmin, Huawei, Samsung, and Amazfit taking a 60% slice of the market.
And there's booming market demand for devices such as wearable ECG and blood pressure monitors that send data directly to clinicians, enabling them to monitor patients' health and intervene where an issue is detected. This surge has been driven partly by the pandemic but also, importantly, by the modern desire for on-demand services that are compatible with busy lives.
Biosensors are another telehealth innovation that's providing promising results. These little adhesive patches allow wearers to move around and perform daily activities normally while capturing vitals such as heart rate, activity, temperature and breathing. Research suggests that these tiny devices can reduce instances of cardiac arrest in wearers by up to 89%.
While wearable technology in healthcare holds massive promise, there are still some concerns around its safety, ethics and efficacy. There is still a degree of scepticism among users where data security is concerned, and the gathering of reliable data depends on proper use by the wearer.
These minor obstacles aside, though, wearable technology has the potential to completely change how medical care is assessed and delivered in the years to come.
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