Three Ways Wearable Tech Will Change Consumer Healthcare

Introducing the Empowered Patient of the Future

The global healthcare industry is at something of a crossroads. The rapid rise of new technologies has given us more power than ever to monitor our bodies and to treat illnesses, but it’s also created a fragmented global industry in which data is rarely shared between providers and patients are left at the whim of insurance companies.

Luckily for us, that’s about to change. New technologies and advances such as the internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the way we think about medicine. Here’s how.

The empowered patient

Wearable devices and fitness trackers, in particular, are giving people more and more access to healthcare data. They can track their heart rate, monitor their exercise and count how many calories have been burned. Big companies like Amazon and Google are getting into the game and Apple recently announced the latest edition of the Apple Watch, which can detect unexpected heart rate spikes and act as an early warning system.

Meanwhile, sleep tracking technology can help to combat insomnia while providing a decent overview of our general health, and all of this technology combined can help people to take control of their health and their lifestyle. Patients can track what they eat using a calorie tracking app, they can integrate that with data from their fitness tracker to factor in the calories that they burned, and they can receive real-time advice that’s based upon their recent activity. As people are given access to more and more data about the way that they live their lives, they’re given more and more of an opportunity to analyze that data and to use it to draw conclusions. Of course, reading the data isn’t enough by itself – you have to act on it, otherwise, it’s useless.

Better than the cure

You’ve probably heard the saying that prevention is better than the cure. That’s never truer than it is when it comes to healthcare, and it’s likely that the healthcare industry of the future will place much more of an emphasis on stopping preventable issues like obesity and diabetes before they become a problem.

This approach could help to cut healthcare costs at a time when they’re spiraling out of control by reducing the burden that individual patients place on the system, but it could also improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people around the world.

The best thing is that this doesn’t require a rethink of the entire healthcare industry, but rather a natural progression in the way that we use technology. In fact, it’s already starting to happen.

Population health data

The best thing about gathering healthcare data is that it can be analyzed in bulk without compromising personal details. For example, if data for thousands of people with a heart murmur could be analyzed, healthcare practitioners could potentially spot new warning signs or identify previously unnoticed commonalities between their lifestyles.

When this starts to happen, it’s good news for everyone. Wearables manufacturers will see an uptake in sales and profits as people start to realize the technology’s potential for saving lives. The healthcare industry and humanity as a whole will be able to take advantage of the new research that it enables.

Conclusion

When it comes to wearable devices and the empowered patient, it’s the wearer who’ll see the most benefit. Global studies are all well and good, but the ultimate benefit will be felt through a personalized approach to healthcare.

Imagine going to your doctor and being able to show him exactly what you’ve been up to since your last visit through the data from your wearable device. Imagine if insurance companies started to offer lower premiums to people who could prove that they worked out.

It’s still early days when it comes to what wearable devices will allow us to do, but it’s pretty clear that they have a lot of potential when it comes to both the way that we live our lives and the way that we monitor our health. It’s an exciting time to be alive.