Did you ever think that you would be able to use your watch to track how many calories you’re burning or how well you’re sleeping? What about having your watch measure your heart rate or remind you to get up once in a while and get active? With wearable technology, these once futuristic-sounding features are now a reality, and they come with considerable health benefits.
The way that most people deal with potential health issues is reactive. When they start to feel sick, in pain, or anything out of the ordinary, they react by going to see a doctor to get it checked out. With wearable tech, there is potential for a more proactive approach to healthcare. People can use wearables to take action in the early stages of health issues instead of reacting after they begin causing problems. This proactive approach to healthcare can catch problems early before they develop into larger issues that could have dangerous health consequences.
People with known health issues also benefit from detecting irregularities early. When wearables are used to monitor health, emergencies can be recognized as soon as they occur. The system can also be set up to notify others like family members or healthcare professionals to ensure that emergencies are responded to quickly.
People become much more engaged with their health when they use wearable tech to monitor themselves. By accessing the real-time data collected by their device, users stay informed about their health conditions. Patients feel like they’re in control of their health when they can monitor themselves with wearables instead of relying only on doctors’ tests.
Most fitness trackers monitor aspects of health like activity levels, heart rate, and sleep quality The device collects data over time so users can view their metrics to detect issues and irregularities in their health. This can motivate people to improve their metrics by engaging in healthy behaviours like getting more sleep and exercise. Many trackers include features that track weight and calorie intake to promote a healthy diet. Having the ability to track progress adds a whole new dimension to health and fitness that is unique to wearable devices.
There are many types of wearable devices already on the market, and they have various uses. While consumer-focused devices are the most common, others are designed for use in the medical field. One example is wearable bio-sensors which are used to monitor things like heart rate and respiratory rate. Electronic smart hearing aids are also becoming more popular. There are devices for diabetic patients that continuously monitor glucose levels using a sensor placed under the skin, which then connects to a smartphone. As wearables become more common, more medical uses for these devices will be developed.
New, experimental wearable tech is hitting the market on a regular basis. For example, a variety of new devices claim to help improve posture. Other unique wearables include devices which monitor UV exposure, fix circadian rhythm, and help regulate body temperature. These unique wearables each target specific problems that may not already have solutions using other types of technology.
Wearable tech can provide enormous benefits to healthcare providers. By using wearable devices to monitor patient data over a long period, medical professionals can better understand the issues that are affecting the patient. They can use this data to make a more accurate diagnosis than they would have been able to without using the device.
Using wearable tech can also save money in the healthcare system. It’s estimated that 20% of all healthcare costs result from lack of consistent exercise, lack of adequate sleep, and addictions to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. By encouraging exercise and better sleep patterns, wearable tech can help patients become healthier and reduce strain on the healthcare system.
In addition, some insurance companies suggest reducing premiums for people who use wearables to encourage wider usage. Employers also benefit when their employees use wearables – one three-year study of employees who used wearables showed a 44% decrease in sick days.
One unique application of wearable tech is that it can monitor vulnerable patients from a distance. While many people already use wearables to look after their health, they would also like a way to monitor the health of vulnerable family members. Researchers at PwC’s Health Research Institute say that there’s demand for devices and services that can be used to look after family members like children or aging parents. Using wearable tech is a great way for caregivers to monitor at-risk seniors in the family.
Healthcare providers can also use wearable tech to monitor vulnerable patients. Patients can use wearables when they return home after surgery or an operation to keep doctors informed on their recovery and ensure no complications occur. This helps ease the burden on healthcare systems by letting patients leave the hospital and return home, while still keeping an eye on their conditions using wearables.
Wearable tech is a new industry with great potential for innovation in the future. The industry is growing rapidly as wearables become more popular within the medical industry and with consumers, and the worldwide market for wearables is predicted to nearly double in size from 2017 to 2021. As the wearable tech industry experiences an influx of innovation, there’s no telling the future benefits these devices will provide.
Want to learn more about how tech is transforming the industry? Check out our post on 5 Ways that Artificial Intelligence Will Impact the Senior Living Industry or visit our blog to stay up-to-date on industry trends.
Wendy studies English Language and Literature at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.
Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.
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