Wearable devices are becoming more impactful in the healthcare industry today. People want to obtain higher access to proficient devices outside healthcare institutions and can monitor their health on their own.
That is why healthcare technology started extending outside the borders of hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, clinics, and others in the form of wearables. Now, they are more accessible in the mass market and people can afford to have personalized healthcare devices in their homes.
Wearable Gadgets For Smart Healthcare
There is a wide variety of wearable healthcare gadgets in the market and many more are being developed. Let’s have a look at some of the devices available today.
Fitness trackers are the most widespread type of smart healthcare wearable gadgets. Sportspeople, healthy lifestyle followers, and health influencers use fitness trackers to monitor their daily physical activity and gain insights into their health and wellness. The most common parameters measured with fitness trackers are the number of steps, sleep stages, heart rate, pulse, and a number of burnt calories.
Smartwatches are updated fitness trackers with wider functionality. While fitness trackers come in the form of a band and are used just for monitoring activity, smartwatches look like electronic watches with wider screens connected to smartphones. Apart from activity tracking, smartwatches can also deliver notifications, emails, and messages from social media.
Electrocardiogram monitors (ECG/EKG) are devices that measure how well a patient’s heart is working and they have recently appeared in the wearable gadget market.
For now, wearable ECG gadgets use only a single-lead probe which is much fewer than twelve leads in ECGs utilized in hospitals. Many smartphone and gadget manufacturing companies have already updated their smartwatches with ECG monitors, including Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy, Fitbit Sense, Amazfit, and others.
Blood pressure monitors
Blood pressure monitors are another recently developed wearable smart devices that are quickly becoming popular. This type of monitor doesn’t require an inflatable cuff applied to the user’s wrist or upper arm, instead, they use some other biological data e.g. pulse transmit time or optical sensors to estimate blood pressure.
Challenges Facing Wearable Technology
Wearable health tech is still developing and there is still much that can be done for providing better diagnostics and, therefore, more innovation in the healthcare industry. The main challenges that the companies involved in the development of wearable technology encounter today include:
- Data privacy and data leakage concerns – for this companies have to constantly improve their data protection methods as well as ensure legitimate use and storage of sensitive personal data;
- Challenges in data processing – wearable devices generate huge volumes of data that should be correctly examined and processed; therefore, companies creating such devices have to use advanced analytics tools and search for healthcare software development specialists that have expertise in Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Internet of Things implementation;
The Future Of Using Wearable Technology In Healthcare
Using wearable devices for everyday needs is becoming an overall trend around the world.
According to Statista, the number of wearables has doubled from 325 mln to 722 mln in a matter of three years between 2016 to 2019 and it’s expected to reach the value of more than 1 bln by 2022 end.
Hearables are the most popular category among wearable devices, with shipment raised by 26.5% in 3Q in 2021. Meanwhile, the second most used category was wrist-worn gadgets such as health and fitness trackers, capturing 43.7% of the market. Statista states that the number of health and fitness trackers sold in 2016 reached 44.5 million and the figure is expected to reach 105 mln by 2022 end.
Development Of Wearable Technology
Patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, and diabetes require real-time monitoring. The function of wearable technology is to detect changes in the body and provide real-time updates, helping physicians understand the changes in the human body. Wearable technology and smart technology in the healthcare sector is not new concept. Glucose monitors for diabetics are common, while pacemakers and defibrillators, classified as implanted devices, provide life support to patients.
One of the first devices used in healthcare technology is biosensors. In 1956, biosensors were used for the very first time to detect blood-oxygen levels through electrodes. The device was designed for detecting blood oxygen levels in real-time in operating room settings during cardiovascular surgery.
Based on this electrochemical biosensor and the use of electrodes, the first glucose analyzer was created in 1975. Further advancements in material sciences lead to the invention of integrated HWDs that consist of electronic devices designed to process and share data. Ever since integrated HWDs came into existence, further advancements in healthcare wearables technology took place.
How Wearable Technology Has Helped Healthcare?
To assess the potential of wearables in the healthcare industry, let’s take a look at how these devices have helped healthcare. In the early days of healthcare wearables, their functions were only confined to measuring heart rate, and activity trackers were most commonly used. But today, healthcare technology is capable of much more! With any technology or device, users demand an engaging and user-friendly interface. The same applies to wearables in healthcare.
Digital health technology has bridged the gap between doctors and patients, allowing patients to connect with their physicians through telehealth solutions. It has also enabled doctors to monitor their patients without having to be physically present. Since wearable technology provides doctors with real-time updates on the patient’s blood sugar levels, blood pressures, oxygen levels, and heart rate, they can analyze the condition of the patient and come up with an accurate treatment plan exactly when required by the patient.
Wearable technology allows doctors to detect major health events and detect diseases in their early stages. Since physicians can access their patient’s medical history, it allows them to make more accurate diagnoses and come up with effective treatment plans for their patients based on their medical information.
Overall, wearables in healthcare technology have significantly enhanced the standard of healthcare, since doctors can now come up with more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatment plans exactly when needed by the patient.
Using wearable healthcare gadgets is a popular tendency today. Wearable technology benefits the healthcare industry in several ways. From more accurate diagnoses to better patient-physician communication, wearable tech has proven its worth ever since its launch.
People have been utilizing fitness trackers and smartwatches for quite some time now and their demand is only growing. Bearing this in mind, the healthcare industry isn’t limited only to these types of gadgets, and companies are constantly experimenting and working on new solutions. For example, ECG and blood pressure monitors, and biosensors. On the other hand, recently developed gadgets require many improvements and tech expertise to reach the level of medical appliances.
It’s expected that the healthcare wearable gadgets market will continue to grow and develop due to increased interest from end-users. And soon, we’ll see new and enhanced wearables offered by various healthcare tech companies.