The Internet has grown and developed from its early days as a medium enabling people to communicate, to a worldwide system interconnecting a range of devices, and more recently things. These include consumer devices and personal wearables, such as smartwatches, smartbands and even smart glasses. Smartwatches and smartbands in particular have become prevalent, and have dramatically influenced many aspects of our lives, including, among others, wellbeing, fitness and – increasingly – healthcare.
Today’s smartwatches and smartbands are geared with an ever-expanding range of sensors – GPS locators, compasses, gyroscopes, accelerometers, thermometers, altitude meters, heartrate sensors, galvanic skin response sensors and more. The dizzying volumes of data captured by these many sensor types have been serving diverse needs and use cases, with strong focus on fitness tracking.
However, sensor-rich wearables are now exceeding their originally intended purpose, and are asserting themselves as a new, crucial information aggregation channel. One enabling automated collection of vital data without requiring that users manually log and record information. And while this new channel presents invaluable potential for a range of lifestyle applications, it is especially inclined to transform and revolutionize digital healthcare and remote patient monitoring.
When it comes to tracking patient healthcare and treatment progress, clinic visits and lab tests have traditionally been an absolute must. Nowadays, however, smartwatches, smartbands and other connected IoT (Internet of Things) devices make it possible to collect data on a range of conditions anywhere and at any time, without necessarily requiring that patients visit their doctors and caretakers.
There are already digital healthcare applications in use today, that circumvent the need for clinic visits and lab tracking by relying on indicators delivered to health service providers via standard off-the-shelf wearables. These allow continuous data aggregation, enabling advance diagnosis, and even early detection of and alerting on any variation from preset baselines, via ongoing bi-directional patient/caretaker communication.
The potential is endless. Imagine wearable-assisted applications capable of automatically monitoring people practically anywhere, both at home and beyond the confines of their living space. The applications can utilize the sensors embedded in smartwatches and smartbands to detect any unusual condition, such as sudden falls, immobility, sleep irregularities, missed meals, low liquid consumption and even patients having taken off their wearables, and report them to caregivers in real time. Optionally backed by machine learning and AI, these ground-breaking new apps can constantly observe and even predict the state of the people being cared form, and effectively reduce the need for clinic or physician visits, or costly hospital readmissions.
The real beauty in all this is that wearable-assisted healthcare and remote patient monitoring solutions can be completely low-key. The automated monitoring they facilitate helps patients retain full independence and the freedom to go about daily activities uninterrupted, all while providing caregivers full visibility and peace of mind.
In the next blog post, we’ll examine the increase in healthcare efficacy facilitated by wearable sensor-derived real-time information specifically in the field of smoking cessation treatments. Stay tuned…