Wearables Carve New Path to Health

Julie Shenkman
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Wearables in technology are nothing new, but recent advancements open the door to viewing health information in an entirely different way. These new devices aim to change how health and fitness data is used, not just by the wearer, but also by physicians, insurance companies, weight loss clinics, gyms and employers.

Heart rate monitors and pedometers look like ancient devices against newer wearables that track everything from stress levels to sleep patterns. Users can count more than steps taken with health trackers that monitor body temperature, respiration, posture, activity, stamina and the number of calories burned and consumed. While older wearables have typically been in the form of straps and bands, newer wearables include patches and glasses. In addition, these devices sync with apps on most smartphones, making health data easily accessible to certain clinics, gyms, doctors and insurance companies.

With this new trend, users have the capability to track all aspects of their lives, which leads to empowerment and responsibility. With immediate information, people can make educated health and lifestyle choices. While wearables have generally already become one of the biggest fitness tracker trends for exercise aficionados, newer versions target those who might have chronic conditions. This new audience benefits from such devices because they monitor vital signs, such as glucose levels. Some devices may even recommend helpful advice. These health wearables make individual responsibility easier as data is automatically measured, computed and stored.

While all these new devices make tracking information easy and fun, they can provide invaluable information for users and health care practitioners. With health wearables, patient data is more reliable and accessible. Health trackers can identify symptoms and help doctors diagnose conditions. Additionally, such data can help doctors intervene before health issues become life-threatening. With health wearables, physicians can track a patient's biological systems, behaviors and physical patterns that could lead to negative health ramifications. Additionally, some wearables are designed with certain health conditions in mind. For examples, bands created for epilepsy patients alert caregivers when convulsions occur. With an instant and up-to-date medical health record, doctors have the ability to provide more specific treatment plans.

Insurance companies, too, have a stake in the health wearables trend. Employers can supply health information to insurance companies to help offset higher costs, which can impact the consumer on various levels. Healthy behavior may be rewarded, while unhealthy behavior could be penalized. With up-to-the-minute data, insurance companies can set highly individualized rates. As a result, the health wearables movement has the potential to revolutionize the health industry.

Health wearables bring to mind the adage that knowledge is power. From consumers to physicians to insurance companies, health data becomes relevant data for numerous reasons. Whatever the reasons, this new trend forges a new path to health and fitness tracker trends.


Photo courtesy of Plug and Play Tech Center at Flickr.com



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