Archive: Oct 2015

Wearable Technology and the Medical Industry

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Innovative technologies have led to gradual improvements in healthcare over the recent years. Many people are living longer and healthier lives thanks to the increased screening capabilities of unique medical devices. In the past two years, the wearable medical device market has soared; consumers are embracing wearable products, such as fitness trackers, and healthcare practitioners are seeking to use the technology in medical offices and operating rooms.

girl running wearing a wearable device

Health information technology (HIT) began marketing wearable devices to consumers to measure steps and workout information. This was regarded as an interesting experiment, but these devices had little use in healthcare applications. To provide wellness benefits and to become valuable tools of physicians, wearables had to meet the criteria of validated accuracy and metrics.

Enhanced wearable technologies are something many physicians are now in favor of. The amount of accurately recorded data from wearables gives doctors additional information to make diagnoses, identify diseases, and create useful data sets. Data gathering is vital part of health and patient care; this fact that encourages other physicians to consider using wearables in their practices.

Moving beyond merely data gathering, wearable technologies are finding their way into operating rooms to support treatment decisions. Doctors are experimenting with Google Glass and other augmented reality (AR) devices to add information resources and to enhance their surgical skills. With such technology, patient records and treatment information is readily available to the doctor without leaving the rooms, and even without breaking eye contact with the patient.

AR projects include Google Glass apps that enable holographic images of test results to be overlaid onto a patient. For example: the results of a MRI can be sent to the wearable, providing the doctor with an accurate representation of the patient’s condition. Utilizing this type of technology can increase precision and may reduce time spent in surgical operations.

Wearable medical devices are being developed to treat chronic pain in conditions such as fibromyalgia, sciatica, and neuropathy; to diagnose early stages of Parkinson’s disease; and to measure force of impact of physical injuries. Even phlebotomy can be improved with wearables—specially designed glasses create vibrant images of a patient’s vasculature system, alleviating common issues with drawing blood.

Embracing wearable technology is the future of the medical industry. With continuous improvements in functionality and accuracy, the information gathered and made available by these devices will one day become standard practice.

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