Many new tech savvy products are launched in the market today as a result of an increased usage in technology. As we know, the rise of custom software development has greatly concerned the healthcare sector. Health wearables are a prominent example of this technical evolution. These health wearables include activity trackers, smart headsets, smart watches and bands, smart clothing, smart glasses and devices for virtual reality. The market for these health wearable devices has witnessed a boom during the recent pandemic. MarketsandMarkets predicts its steady growth at a compound annual growth rate of 20.5% between 2020 and 2025. We will mainly explore the reasons behind this flourished industry on the whole, in this article.
Wearable health devices foresee the ability to measure and assess an individual’s vitals and readings; both in the hospital and at home. They aim to understand the patient’s physiological data and actions. This ability in itself is a powerful means to capture the knowledge, apply machine learning to emerging patterns and accordingly alert patients, nurses and doctors timely.
If we reflect, health wearables are not new. Dated back to the 13th century, power eyeglasses were invented. They are an example of health wearables. However, like all other industries, this sector also went through a technical evolution and the devices invented now are much more advanced and ahead of their time. Health wearable technology today is much more influential, powerful, and readily available. The diversity of these devices in terms of technology is unbelievable at present, such as blinq wearable rings, philips smart sleep, wireless patient monitoring, etc.
This pandemic has adversely affected most businesses, however companies that manufacture devices that assist the treatment of covid have experienced a boom. The market for health wearable devices has also experienced an increased amount of sales and demand as a result of the outgoing virus. This is majorly because of the fact that wearable technology was already on a rise even before the pandemic. But the recent events have resulted in a sudden surge in the usage of health wearable devices to monitor covid symptoms and tracing social distancing.
Wearable assistive technology for covid can be divided in two broad categories; symptoms monitoring systems and respiratory support systems. The first includes devices used to identify things like respiration rate (RR), body temperature, pulse rate, oxygen saturation in the blood (SpO2), etc. The second whereas includes ventilators, CPAP systems, oxygen therapy, etc.
The consumer-directed demand for wearable devices is rising rapidly and was expected to reach $34 billion by 2020. These include devices that can be worn from head to toe. Health wearable technologies have certain uses in the medical industry such as weight management and physical activity tracking. Moreover, they are developed for disease prevention and health maintenance, as well as used for patient management and health management. These wearable devices may have a direct effect on clinical decision-making and diagnosis. It is also claimed that wearable devices have outcomes such as patient recovery outside of hospitals, this may increase the quality of patient care while reducing the financial cost of care. Wearable devices allow the continuous monitoring of physical activities and behaviours of individuals throughout the day, as well as physiological and biochemical parameters. Vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, as well as blood oxygen saturation, posture, and physical activities are monitored by the use of electrocardiogram (ECG) and other similar devices.
Wearable technologies can be creative solutions for several healthcare problems. Some health devices have been developed to track certain medical habits for healthcare professionals, including accelerometers, multi-angle video recorders, and gyroscopes. Other wearables including on-wrist activity trackers (such as Fitbit) and cell phone applications and add-ons, have been developed for fitness users and consumers.
By 2050, the World Health Organization expects the global population of elderly people (60 or older) to grow to 2 billion. Moreover, the States is likely to go from about 49 million elderly (above 60) in 2018 to about 100 million in 2060. Risks for chronic diseases, injuries, disabilities and other adverse health effects have risen in the aging population as of today. Some of the issues associated with identifying and handling adverse health problems in aged populations may be solved using wearable devices. Wearable devices have great potential to prevent and diagnose certain health conditions among the older tier, as offering treatment to an ageing population has become a major problem in many countries.
Wearable medical devices have long been used by the cardiology sector to track pulse and rhythm of the heart. Many new wearable devices, including some that have been widely embraced by both practitioners and individuals, have appeared over the past decade. Wearable devices are used frequently by cardiologists to diagnose, evaluate care, and even administer therapy and treatment. These wearable devices and their advancements in cardiology date back to the late 1800s, referring to the use of wrist watches used to calculate heart rate and cardiac happenings. High blood pressure or hypertension, regardless of age, sex, body mass index, race or economic status, is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases that endanger human health worldwide. Currently, research and innovations on wearable devices that can calculate BP omnipresently are constantly carried out in industries along with the evolution of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Such wearable cuff-less devices estimate BP from human body-generated signals.
Wearable devices, particularly in view of the growing interest in wellness, well-being, disease prevention, and fitness, as well as the paradigm shift towards personalized and regulated healthcare, are becoming an increasingly popular channel for healthcare services. In addition, from medical treatment to health prevention and management, the change in the medical paradigm has provided consumers with newer experiences that conventional health treatments were not able to provide.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is one of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) technologies that helps to provide quality healthcare at a distance and to respond efficiently to prevent health crisis. For sports, health wearables like Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin and Misfit are widely used today. With the help of advancements in health wearables, sleep cycles and REM and NREM states are also monitored. Monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, or recording how life can alleviate stress – plenty of wearable healthcare devices promise you a healthy lifestyle.
According to researchers, sleep is extremely significant for brain strength, fitness, appearance, and overall well-being of an individual. This is what sleep apps and trackers tend to optimize. Usually, these apps measure how much time you spend in light or deep sleep (REM or NREM). Some of these sleep sensors apps have a smart sleep alarm as well. This can be done through a couple of apps that can be installed in mobile phones such as Sleep cycle alarm clock and Pillow. These apps track light and deep sleep, record if you snore, if you talk in your sleep or have sleep abnormalities, and wake you up at the best possible time with its smart alarm. Hence, if you are new to the concept of sleep tracking, you can use these free apps available over the play store and app store rather than investing in expensive devices for sleep sensors. Moreover, devices like Fitbit also have sleep tracking abilities installed in them.
Another category of these smart devices in terms of technology is those of fitness trackers. Every sport freak has incorporated the usage of health wearables in their routines now. Most smartphones now have apps that can track step count, running, and cycling. These activity trackers also monitor the user’s heart rate and help generate analysed graphs to provide the users with insight and ways to keep their bodies healthy. These fitness trackers use bands like Fitbit and smartwatches like the Samsung watch or the iWatch, and polar chest straps. Moreover, cell phones now have in-built free applications that can track the user’s steps. Via a compatible mobile device (smartphone, tablet, or other), these apps help their users capture any relevant information with the help of sensors, track it, and monitor trends. These apps have numerous advantages, such as users learning individually to control their health and wellbeing, so they are more likely to engage medical practitioners when needed.
Health wearables and IOMT also helps in eradicating and reducing stress from an individual’s life. Stress is one of the main health concerns in the busy and crowded world of the 21st century. The list of stress factors can vary from traffic jams to family breakdowns; hence the list has no end. This stress worsens health complications like heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity, gastrointestinal problems or asthma. Fortunately, there are also plenty of mental health technical facilities out there that deliver successful stress management. Devices like PIP are tiny, yet can provide individuals with insightful feedback regarding their stress levels. Moreover, smartphone apps help individuals to unwind and calm down by transforming depressing situations to happier ones through active relaxation and CBT techniques. Managing stress is important to your health, as mentioned above.
There are several ways to reduce the level of stress efficiently. Meditation, which has been shown clinically to alleviate symptoms associated with stress, depression, and anxiety, is a common practice to reduce the stress level of individuals and promote relaxation. There are mobile apps and devices that help individuals meditate while they stay in their comfort zones.
While health wearables are not at the top of the list of advancements that can save lives, they certainly help in the transition from reactive to preventive care. Health wearables are useful not only for self-management but for the delivery of care as well. They are useful devices that provide insights into the health patterns of each individual and allow physicians and medical practitioners to personalize treatments and strategize for treatment.
Besides, in stressful times such as the current pandemic, wearable devices help ensure uninterrupted delivery of treatment. There are a few protection problems that concern security with health wearables, but they are manageable when handled in due time. The future holds great potential and countless opportunities for health wearables. This might revolutionize the healthcare industry beyond our expectations in terms of treatment as well as patient experience.