How Wearable Tech Can Change Healthcare

Joe Weinlick
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Wearable tech is everywhere. With devices like fitness trackers and sleep trackers, technology allows people to monitor everything from their calorie output to their REM patterns. As the devices become more sophisticated, their potential to transform the healthcare industry is gaining further attention.

For doctors, wearable tech allows unprecedented access to patient data. Under normal circumstances, healthcare providers must trust individual patients to report their own status honestly and accurately. With wearable devices, doctors gain instant access to more accurate information. They can track biological systems and identify patterns that might have further health implications. A record of personal data offers insight to patient behavior, which often impacts chronic health conditions. As a result, doctors will be able to offer more personalized treatment plans.

The trackers can be useful in diagnosing health conditions, recommending corrective action and spotting the underlying causes of mysterious symptoms. Over time, the aggregate data from personal trackers can be useful in identifying health issues, and lead to early intervention before they become life-threatening problems.

Information from personal health trackers also allows greater patient empowerment. With instant access to their biological processes, patients can take action on their own to correct lifestyle problems that are causing health issues. As an added benefit, the fast feedback can satisfy the need for instant gratification and provide motivation towards monitoring one's health.

Wearable tech also has the potential to impact the insurance process. Employers, who are directly impacted by higher insurance costs, may require access to the data from employees' personal fitness devices. People who make destructive health choices could be penalized, while people who make healthy choices could be rewarded. According to Forbes magazine, manufacturers of wearable tech devices are already preparing for potential partnerships with insurance companies. With the real-time data from monitoring devices, companies will be able to set rates that are tailored to the individual. While the potential for Big Brother-style corporate access is alarming, this system would be beneficial for people who make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle.

For practitioners in the healthcare industry, wearable tech has the potential to transform the medical experience entirely. Using a device like Google Glass, surgeons could keep an eye on a patient's vital signs without looking away or removing their hands from the surgical instruments. The same technology could be useful in training exercises for new doctors by providing a firsthand view of a surgery or medical procedure. Or, with the right connections, it would enable more experienced doctors to tap into the video stream of a less experienced surgeon to provide real-time advice.

For doctors and healthcare professionals, it is crucial to stay informed and up to date on the latest in wearable tech. The devices have the potential for integration into every part of the medical process, from insurance policies to post-surgical care.

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