In 2017, more than 310 million wearable devices were purchased, resulting in almost $31 billion in sales. The wearable market continues to grow 15% on average year over year. As new technologies are introduced every day, the health use and care capabilities grow as well. Here’s how health informatics makes these developments possible.
The world was first introduced to wearable devices in 2000 with the advent of Bluetooth headsets. Shortly after that in 2004, GoPro released the first wearable camera. Since then, creativity and technology have led us to current market wearables and a world where blood pressure, sleep activity, and blood sugar can all be measured at your fingertips.
Developers and experts now face the challenge to offer sleeker, more advanced products. The progression of smart devices and need for round-the-clock monitoring have motivated providers to enlist wearable technologies to:
- Address: Identify preventable problems.
- Act: Enforce patient accountability for managing their health based on their doctor’s advice.
- Access: Ensure that medical records are transparent and available to both the provider and the patient.
Origins of Wearables
Time is valuable, and working-class people with professional and personal obligations often find themselves racing from task to task. Unfortunately, this often leaves one’s health and well-being ignored. A routine appointment with a physician can require multiple steps from beginning to end including a medical history review, tests for diagnosis, prescriptions, and finally treatment. In combination, these steps take time and patients end up only addressing their health and going to a doctor when they’re suffering from an illness, and not as a measure of maintenance or prevention.
Instead, wearable devices allow users to continuously monitor their health in real time, offer insights and signals that a physician can see when prompted, and promote a variety of preventative treatments.
The Growth & Current Market of Wearable Devices
Statista estimates that by 2020 there will be 830 million wearable devices in use across the world with North America accounting for the largest consumer population at 40% of wearable market share. This exposure of more convenient, digitized health management will benefit those with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Smart watches will drive the wearable device market, with Apple, Fitbit, and AliveCor among the leading brands most purchased. Let’s uncover how health informatics will make these products successful tools for the future of health management.
Apple introduced the Apple Watch in 2015 with much promise and excitement. The device sold more than 30 million units in its first year and remains a clear illustration of health informatics in use. Using big data to analyze and predict medical reporting, the Apple Watch operates from the ResearchKit platform. This allows developers to build apps that may improve health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, heart disease, and asthma. Through health informatics technology, the experts at Apple are able to deliver a universal product that advances population health.
AliveCor debuted the first-ever consumer ready, clinically tested, and FDA approved electrocardiogram (EKG) that can be run in 30 seconds from your wrist. The KardiaBand gives users a more holistic view of their heart health, improved proactive care, and unlimited storage for EKG recordings to share with physicians. To promote preventative care, the KardiaBand comes equipped with SmartRhythm to monitor irregularities. When the band notices something it doesn’t expect, it alerts the user to administer an EKG. The convenience and instant analysis gives patients the power to control and self-manage their health in a simple way.
Earlier this year, Fitbit released the lightest metal smartwatch available in the United States: the Versa. This watch paired modern design, broad use compatibility, and a personalized health dashboard. In addition to the standard health and fitness data tracking, the Versa introduced new upgrades the market had not yet seen, including a relative SpO2 sensor that offers the potential to monitor crucial user health indicators such as sleep apnea. The innovative device also provides personalized insight and guidance to female wearers concerning ovulation, fertility, and menstrual cycles. The data acquired from this device can deliver insights to how a woman’s cycle can impact sleep activity, weight, and nutrition. This data, along with other health and fitness tracking, is then passed on to physicians and specialists. Health informatics supports this health technology and level of care.
Emerging Wearable Devices
Health informatics is helping developers drive more and more consumer products in advancing health management. Some of the key products featured in 2017 at CES, the world stage for innovation and breakthrough technologies, include:
- Motio Healthwear by Neogia: The first wearable device that prevents, diagnoses, and monitors sleep apnea through the collection of biometric data.
- TempTraq by Blue Spark Technologies: The only wearable Bluetooth temperature monitor in the form of a comfortable patch able to monitor body temperature up to 48 hours. This HIPPA-compliant product allows parents and physicians to track temperature from anywhere and uses direct integration with provider EHR systems.
- BodyTrak: An in-ear wearable device that uses medical-grade measurement to gather health data to enable early intervention and prevent injuries to users. This device measures vitals such as VO2, heart rate, and heat stress.
As healthcare companies continue to revolutionize the patient-doctor interaction and provide more immediate service, digital innovations will continue to rise. More experts and professionals are needed to support the demand for improving current and future products. Plus, as this segment gains prominence in the health field, professionals with the proper credentials will be continually met with opportunities for career advancement. Health informatics programs help support this growth.
UNE Online: Health Informatics
At UNE Online, we partner our students with a personalized support model and collaborative learning with field experts to produce career-ready professionals upon graduation. Our program is tailored to meet the needs of full-time, working professionals who are looking to advance their career and remain competitive in the field. The Health Informatics graduate programs include an unmatched focus area model that concentrates your studies on topics aligned with your career path. Start your future today!