Monitoring has been imperative of medical procedures but patients subjected to this observation were clueless about the trite lingo. But with the boom of technology, information comes handy and people are more receptive as well as curious to learn new technologies. Wearables allow users to be cognizant of their vital stats, transmit the same data to their physicians and slay down the number of visits to the clinic. Despite the opportunity of application, hesitation towards wearable accessories continues to prevail.
We speculate wearables mostly as devices with which technology zealots boast about their fitness, but a universe of devices is helping patients keep a close tab on their tender health. Compact and mobile, these wearable devices are being shoved with more and more sensors which record information for a wide gamut of human activities related to fitness, sleep, and underlying medical conditions. While the cost of these health accessories is a big concern, clinical trials in first world countries are enabling physiologists to remotely access and analyze patient data.
“Smart” wristbands, eyewear, jewelry and even apparels have been used for reliable health tracking. Of the plenty of devices which have emerged, a lot of uncommon ones have gained the confidence of the medical community. Monica AN24, which comes with built-in ECG and EMG sensors, monitors the condition of the fetus without stressing the mother, while the $99 Somaxis Myolink acts as a wearable EMG electrode and sends data across to specific destinations on cloud or network for analysis. OMBra is a $149 sports brassiere which is capable of recording vital data – especially Heart Rate – and is made of an antimicrobial material to sway odour as it hooks up with iPhone over Bluetooth.
At the same time, experts raise concern over the insufficient capability of Biopharma firms and medical institutions towards compiling, processing and analyzing the data arising from thousands or probably millions of such devices. ROI (Return on Investment) is a diminishing concern for investors in pharmatech, as the growing space of wearable is still an inexact science. Despite this, Soreon Research claims the market for wearable medical devices is foreseen to grow at a CAGR of 65%, valued at $41 billion in 2020.
While in a recent article, I talked how smartphones can almost be used for everything a smart wearable does, there are certain smart devices that were simply designed to keep users awe-struck. Planexta has developed a monitor which utilizes heart rate variability (HRV) to determine over 60 emotions while keeping an eye on events which may trigger changes in these feelings. This can be utilized to mitigate the effects of mental ailments which otherwise have a heart-wrenching impact on the patients and their kin. While coloured indicators in these smart diapers can help you and your pediatrician assess the health of your child based on their urine and stools, Zoll Lifevest can be used as a wearable cardiac tracker and defibrillator. Rewalk Personal 6.0 aids in physical rehabilitation of humans who have suffered lower limb injuries, whereas mySmartCane is a white cane reinvented which helps the visually impaired assess their environment.
Wearable tech is evolving but needs a strong backing in terms of handling Big Data in order to integrate it as a part of Internet of Things around us. From stethoscopes that can be worn by patients to smart collars for dogs, the technologies require a conviction for a higher form of ROI than just financial returns – improved engagement with patients and satisfaction. This will pave a sturdy path for telehealth sensing. Meanwhile, most of these devices are not commercially viable, as they prevail strongly in the prototype arena, and are yet to invade Walmart. 2017 can witness a promising growth in these technologies, but India is likely to be advantaged only if we first educate ourselves to leave the way for ambulances.