Health-Focused Wearables: What Do They Mean For The Future?

Health-Focused Wearables: What Do They Mean For The Future?

Has technology made its way to the top of your wish list during this holiday season? You’re not alone. New phones and tablets consistently find themselves in top placement. And something else has entered the marketplace and is zooming to the top as well: wearable technology. From glasses, to smart watches, to fitness trackers, to smart shirts, each are designed to connect with and improve our lives in some way.Health-Focused Wearables: What Do They Mean For The Future?

The wearable technology market was valued at around $6.3 million in 2010; its predicted to top out in 2014 at around $5.1 billion. Huge growth, with only more progress to come. All of this adds up to a lot of change not only for what consumers can do on their own, but how the health care industry can use it to stay more current and more relevant with their patients in the process.

Google recently released analysis from the Google Play Store, which showed that the Health and Fitness category was the fastest growing app category this past year. There are now more than 100,000 apps dedicated to mobile health for both iOs and Android technology, a figure that has more than doubled in the past two years. And while figures show that the mobile health and fitness app market is currently worth around $4 billion, that number is expected to increase to $26 billion by 2017.

In short, people care about their health like never before. And with easy ways to track everything from heart rate, to calorie intake, to how many steps they take throughout the day, its also easier than ever for health professionals and patients to reconnect and find ways to work together to improve health and keep people in the best condition of their lives.

As a health care provider, its time to think outside of the box, and see how you can begin integrating this technology into your own practice.

The wearable technology is still small. But its growing steadily.

When was the last time you visited the app store? Browsing through the health and fitness category can reveal all kinds of things. You’ll find apps that track weight, diet, exercise, calories, and of course a whole lot more.

Why use an app? Because it makes life easier. Whether you keep the data on your smart phone, or its tracked through a wearable, you have instant results for your progress. There’s no guess work, or having to go back and write things down. It can be used to pull statistics over time, and can match trends to how a person is doing compared to industry norms.

The people using this technology care about their health, and as a health care professional, this is one of the easiest places to start. If you start using wearable technology and understanding some of the apps available to the general population, you can use it as you are talking with your patients about their fitness goals. Start by using it yourself to see what the technology can do. As you find things you love, share it with patients that are also heavy into technology. The early adapters will help you determine what’s possible, and help you feel more comfortable as new and improved technology makes its way into the marketplace.

Health practitioners can drive demand

While consumers are currently driving demand because of the instant results they can see with these new devices, its health practitioners that can drive it to an entirely new level.

Just this year, Apple entered the mobile health market by partnering with Epic Systems and the Mayo Clinic to produce HealthKit, a technology that will unite feeds from health monitors and report back to a hospital’s electronic medical records system. It will be a repository of statistics, allowing a unique way to monitor highs and lows in a patient, even flagging problem areas to either contact a patient with immediately, or to address when a patient comes in for a regularly scheduled appointment.

If health practitioners see the benefits early and start using technology in whatever way possible, it has the ability to not only make this technology more readily available, but will also reduce the cost and make it more accessible to everyone.

Wearable technology is here to stay; only time will determine what direction it takes and how sophisticated it becomes. But as an early adapter, if you get involved now, even if its only on a personal level, you will lead the way as we enter this new phase of health care.

Do you use wearable technology? What is your experience?