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How can wearables change the healthcare landscape?

Becoming a major player in the wearables market presents a lucrative opportunity and one which many companies are pursuing. Professor Bruce Keogh spoke to The Guardian earlier this week on the potential of wearables for both consumers and the NHS.

Becoming a major player in the wearables market presents a lucrative opportunity and one which many technology companies are pursuing. As we saw from CES 2015, there is an increasing array of new gadgets that enable users to do anything from track calorie intake, monitor temperature, or offer pain relief by using sensors to stimulate nerve endings. According to a study from Kantar Media, the market for health and fitness wearables will rise to an estimated 13.1 million users in the UK during 2015.

This comes as welcomed news to many professionals in the healthcare industry. On behalf of NHS’s top doctors, Professor Bruce Keogh spoke to the Guardian earlier this week on the potential of wearables for both consumers and the NHS. With the ability for patients to track their heart rate, calorie intake and other important health information via a corresponding mobile app, individuals can take greater responsibility for their personal health. The knock on effect of this, Professor Keogh suggested, could reduce the strain on the NHS, by preventing unnecessary admissions.

Wearable technology as an extension to mobile apps allow data to be collected. Through mobile technologies, sensors, genome sequencing and advances in analytics software, it is possible to capture vast amounts of information about an individual’s makeup and the environment around them. By analysing this data, doctors and other healthcare professionals can continue to learn and understand patterns and habits that affect people’s health.

Wearables also have the potential to re-engineer healthcare systems, to provide more effective processes, saving time, money and resource. For example, with remote tracking, patients can effectively track health factors and send updates securely and directly to their doctor, reducing the need for post-op visits. ABI Research found that with home monitoring devices, which primarily target the growing elderly care market, is expected to witness strong growth over the next five years with overall device revenue exceeding 39%.

In the US, the Mayo Clinic Patient iOS app allows patients to access their appointments, message doctors and obtain lab and imaging results, without calling the surgery, further reducing strains on resources. Mayo will also be one of the first healthcare providers to integrate with Apple’s HealthKit API, allowing patients to send data about their wellbeing to the surgery.

The power of wearable technology is increasing at a rapid rate. The advancements in wearables is allowing patients to monitor their own health and recovery, increasing health independence and resulting in more efficient healthcare processes. By investing in such technologies now, institutions will no doubt reap from its benefits in the long term.

It’s hugely encouraging to see a senior member of the NHS get behind this technology, therefore signalling that the health service should be embracing it.

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