The healthcare industry is not just talking about wearable devices — it’s betting its money on the new technology. Healthcare IT News reported that the industry spent $260 million on wearable technology in the first quarter of 2016 alone. Wearables can collect patient data such as vitals and lifestyle information and submit it to their providers in real-time. When wearables are implemented into the patient journey and used to provide care, they can make a positive impact on the healthcare system.
The following are five ways the pursuit of wearable devices will affect the healthcare industry and patients:
1. More accurate data analytics
Healthcare organizations are using data analytics in a variety of ways to improve patient outcomes, such as predicting post-surgical complications, determining the most effective treatment for patients and reducing readmissions. However, data analytics is only as good as the data it analyzes. Because data from wearables is transmitted directly to providers, it is often more accurate than patient-reported data, especially when it comes to lifestyle and behaviors. The information provided by wearable technology results in higher-quality data analytics results.
2. Improved patient health
Because wearables focus on prevention, patients often see improved health because the acute event doesn’t happen. For example, if remote monitoring catches early warning signs of complications for a cardiac patient, providers are better able to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of a heart attack. There is typically even greater improvement when healthcare organizations use the data collected from wearables for predictive analytics.
3. Increased quality of care
The more information providers have about patients, the higher quality of care they can provide. It is often difficult to make a correct diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment when given limited information. Wearables can provide data that narrows down the provider’s options. The result is better, more targeted care for the patient.
4. More timely interventions
In the past, there was often a significant time lag before providers had the information that would allow them to intervene and start treatment. If patients used home devices, they had to contact the provider manually or the issue would remain undetected until their next checkup. With wearables, the information is sent to the provider in real-time, which means the provider can intervene more rapidly.
5. Reduction in healthcare costs
Previously, routine monitoring took place in the office and required a visit. However, wearables allow for remote monitoring so the need for routine office visits is eliminated in some cases. This decreases the costs to both patients and insurance companies.
The popularity of wearables is not just a fad or the latest hot technology — wearables are important diagnostic and preventive tools for improving healthcare. By using wearables strategically, healthcare providers can deliver treatment options more quickly, increase the quality of patient care, ensure more accurate treatment, decrease costs for all parties and, most importantly, improve patients’ lives.