Wearables are fueling major innovations in the healthcare industry for both doctors and patients. Whether it’s to make surgeries more effective and precise or gain access to more data points to better serve patients, the healthcare industry is already reaping the benefits of the wearables revolution.
Wearables for better health records
One of the benefits already realized in personal wearable ownership is the value of day-to-day health data both for doctors and patients. For starters, having access to devices like FitBits and the new Apple Watch encourages users to regularly track their calorie consumption, heart rate, sleeping patterns, and other health metrics. This information is helpful for those who need daily insights on how to improve their exercise or sleeping routines to ultimately improve bodily health.
Hospitals like Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles are using this data to make better and more informed decisions about healthcare for patients. Using Apple’s Healthkit service, the hospital allows patients to submit a profile including information such as height, weight, and recent activities such as exercise, sleep patterns, and calorie consumption. The main idea is to blend traditional health diagnostics services in hospitals with more long-term data supplied through services like Healthkit. This allows doctors to see progress in medical care or to identify opportunities to improve the patient’s health with more long-term monitoring tools.
This process isn’t perfect - it still depends on daily, regular use of wearables for accurate insights, and the software only works with Apple smartphone owners. Still, it represents the one-on-one interactivity enabled through wearables in the healthcare industry that will only become more effective and more useful for making informed medical decisions in the coming months.
Wearables for more effective surgery
Wearables have already been implemented in several hospital environments to support doctors in surgery and enable better real-time healthcare. The New York Times has been reporting on the real-world usage of Google Glass, a wearable that offers an augmented reality for doctors to assess patients, to share footage and improve medical operations in real time.
Google Glass records and shares ongoing surgeries without complications. Doctors simply need to wear the gear like a pair of ordinary glasses, through which an orthopedic surgeon in, say, America, can demonstrate an ankle surgery live to a team of surgeons in India, or elsewhere. The value comes not just from live demonstrations, but from recordings that can build an archive of footage based on each surgery type, all viewed from the perspective of the lead surgeon’s point of view.
Another value seen by doctors is Google Glass’s ability to help doctors perform more effective surgeries with more information and tools at their disposal. Glass allows other doctors and specialists to join an ongoing surgery from the doctor’s point of view, and to advise on how to proceed, ensuring a better outcome for the patient. In addition, doctors can review and pull information in real time without moving their hands, viewing X-Ray and other imagery while performing the surgery without having to operate a monitor or other equipment in the surgery room. This ensures doctors can use more tools to make more informed decisions when working with patients, helping prevent doctor error and maximize the chances of a successful recovery.
These are just a few of the ways that wearables are already improving healthcare and medical operations around the world. Both provide new avenues to add value to the healthcare process and give measurable improvements to patient treatment. Important questions remain unanswered with addressing privacy and data security, but wearables in any case are already opening new doors to improve how patients maintain their health, how doctors treat patients, and how doctors educate their peers.