How Wearables Are Fueling Healthcare Innovation
by Marc Fischer, Co-Founder and CEO of Dogtown Media
Wearables are making an unprecedented impact on the medical field. Users are able to form a more complete picture of their health, and physicians are able to glean insights and take action faster. Countless opportunities have opened up for innovators to improve how we manage medical maladies. Are you ready for a healthier future?
A SHIFT FROM FITNESS TO MEDICINE
In the early days of wearables, devices like the Fitbit enabled users to track basic metrics such as step count from their wrists. Not long after, both consumers and innovators realized that wearables could do much more. This was the advent of medical wearables, and it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Some forecasts predict that the medical wearables market will surpass $14 billion by 2024. Other experts, like Juniper Research, believe this breakneck growth will make spending on these devices reach $60 billion by 2023. While projections vary, one thing is clear — healthcare wearables are becoming more ubiquitous.
To cement themselves a place in the future of medical wearables, companies like Apple, Biotronik, and Garmin are doubling down on their research and development in this space. As a result, wearables are not only becoming smarter but also more comfortable and less obtrusive. Patients can now incorporate these devices into their lifestyles with minimal effort and a massive return on investment.
A MORE HOLISTIC PICTURE OF YOUR HEALTH
In the past, the onus of noticing and reporting symptoms solely rested on the patient. From there, the healthcare provider would need to conduct examinations and tests to decide the best treatment plan. Today, healthcare wearables can paint a more accurate, comprehensive picture of a patient’s health than the limited snapshot offered in a single medical appointment. In turn, hidden patterns can be uncovered, medical conditions can be elucidated, and both physicians and patients can become more informed.
With a built-in EKG sensor, the Apple Watch is a prime example of these capabilities in practice for detecting to heart disease, which accounts for one out of four deaths in America. In a study of 400,000 Apple Watch users, researchers found that the device detected irregular heartbeats in 0.5% of participants extremely accurately; 84 percent of that 0.5% were flagged and confirmed to be having a real medical event.
TRANSFORMING DATA INTO REAL-TIME ACTION
Remote monitoring is an amazing medical development, but all the data in the world is worthless without action. By monitoring a patient’s vitals in real time, wearables can act as the first line of defense in an emergency. For example, Dogtown Media, my mobile technology firm, created a wearable alert ecosystem for patients suffering from chronic illnesses.
If a patient’s health starts trending downwards, medical attention is needed fast. This goes for whether the patient is having a heart attack in their sleep, their blood glucose level drops, or they fall out of bed and hurt themselves. As soon as this happens, our system automatically notifies a caregiver, family member, or doctor of the emergency. If there is no response, the system then contacts a nearby medical facility to dispatch an ambulance to the device’s GPS location.
Seconds and minutes matter in these events. Fortunately, wearables can not only alert healthcare providers instantly, but they can also equip them with the information needed to tailor treatment plans for optimal success. This means there’s no wasted time when it comes to saving lives. And the patient’s loved ones can have peace of mind knowing they’ll be alerted at the first sign of an emergency.
A HEALTHIER FUTURE FOR ALL
Medical wearables are a ripe frontier that any ambitious entrepreneur or innovative provider should consider exploring. This technology is allowing more people to leverage higher-quality healthcare, and it’s also expanding beyond the smartwatch to help with a variety of medical issues. Organizations around the world are finally realizing the true potential of medical wearables, and they’re bringing the right dose of innovation to make it a reality.
Consider the MiniMed 670G, a smart blood glucose monitor that checks a diabetic user’s blood sugar every five minutes and administers insulin as needed. Or check out Biotronik’s BioMonitor 2, an implantable heart monitoring device that’s more accurate than a wrist-based monitor and can transmit data daily for up to four years. There’s even clothing in development, such as a smart fabric from Dartmouth College which helps physical therapy patients expedite recoveries.
The list of medical wearable applications is endless, and the sky is truly the limit for this technology. By transforming real-time medical data into actionable insights, wearables are allowing us to take control of our health. We’re entering a new era of medicine — one in which preventative healthcare is becoming the standard.
Please note: This article contains the sole views and opinions of Marc Fischer and does not reflect the views or opinions of Guidepoint Global, LLC (“Guidepoint”). Guidepoint is not a registered investment adviser and cannot transact business as an investment adviser or give investment advice. The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute investment advice, nor is it intended as an offer or solicitation of an offer or a recommendation to buy, hold or sell any security. Any use of this article without the express written consent of Guidepoint and Marc Fischer is prohibited.