Bhawna Jha, M.D., is an assistant professor of Neurology/Pain Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Human beings have a way of ignoring or denying medical issues. It’s easy to downplay a momentary misstep or ignore a strange but fleeting sensation we feel in our own bodies or think we perceive in a family member or friend, until it becomes painfully clear that an emergency is upon us.
But through the use of increasing technological innovations in health care, such as sophisticated wearable devices, it’s almost like we have a doctor with us who can instantly recognize a problem and let us, or our caretakers, know objectively and precisely what is going on, or at least that we need to have a professional take a look.
This is why interest in healthcare-related wearable devices, commonly referred to as “wearables,” has increasingly intensified.
Wearables have recently been recognized for their ability to extend the expertise of healthcare professionals into areas outside the hospital and clinic.Companies including FitBit and Sesnionic have rapidly expanded the creation of these devices with the sole intention of increasing the portability and accessibility of health information through small, wearable devices.
And to make this situation even more compelling, the individual components of wearable devices have continuously become smaller and less expensive.
Based on the abundant utility of these devices, many have predicted the advancements in wearable technologies would inevitably benefit individuals by giving them the ability to obtain instant medical feedback. Ultimately, the remote monitoring of wearable technologies by family members or healthcare providers is expected to become common practice.
Imagine the possibilities:
● The activity of a vulnerable family member who has autism, depression, diabetes, a blood disorder or other illnesses can be closely monitored, ensuring a lower risk of possible harm.
● A caregiver is alerted to the fact a child is drowning or in some other state of distress thanks to wearable technology.
● Extreme fluctuations in blood pressure or blood glucose (specifically in patients with a history of such diseases), which can be indicators of a medical emergency, can be intercepted and acted upon by an artificial intelligence-driven model or can promptly alert the covering physician.
Benefits to the Tech
Although wearables are best known for helping wearers track their steps or other athletic activity, these convenient, portable devices are now able to detect various conditions. These include pulse rate, blood pressure, blood oxygenation level, walking patterns and weight gain, using an electrocardiogram, ballistocardiogram or alternate sensors.