Wearables have undoubtedly made their mark in the health and wellness industry. With the market slated to double in size by 2021 as vendors plan to ship a total of 125.5 million wearable devices this year, according to the International Data Corporation, tracking your steps during your work day, your reps during your workouts and even analyzing your personal sleeping patterns has become the new normal. While consumer wearables have seen a monumental level of success across the board, clinical wearables have struggled to reach a similar level of notoriety until recently.
However, in the past several years we have seen healthcare professionals become increasingly vocal regarding the groundbreaking capabilities that medical wearables must offer for patients, especially in tackling the extensive monitoring needed for some of the most common chronic diseases such as COPD and diabetes. As clinical wearables continue to grow in popularity, it’s important to remember that innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are three key considerations that vendors need to make during the R&D process for these to successfully be integrated into day-to-day use in the hospital for both physicians and patients.
What’s the End Goal?
Connected Sensing is not something that was developed by accident—it stemmed from a growing need for a deeper understanding of patients’ needs that were failing to be acknowledged. With 44 percent of the general population surveyed in the Philips 2017 Future Health Index stating that a recommendation from a healthcare profession would be their deciding factor in adopting connected care technology such as a wearable, patients are looking to their physicians and their health systems for guidance during the digital health revolution. Medical grade connected sensing technologies ultimately could change the way healthcare is practiced in lower-acuity, general care areas. The process needs to be intentional and solutions need to be created with a deep understanding of not only physicians’ needs, but also patients’ previously unmet needs.
Has the Process Been Collaborative?
Throughout the creation process, it is important to have a collaborative relationship with everyone in hospital systems—including clinicians, executives, and patients—to make clinical wearables a reality. People in healthcare can be skeptical of new technology and its potential impact on their workflow. If clinical wearables are going to make their way mainstream, vendors need to consider the various needs and perspectives of the end user. Deploying clinical wearables on a large scale requires the vendors to deliver on the vision and functionality of the technology, while it is up to the providers, payers, and patients to share candid feedback. This type of collaborative process will help bring clinical wearables to the next level.
Has the Technology Been Developed with the Patient in Mind?
As physicians push for an industry-wide buy-in for clinical wearables, they will be unable to fully execute this initiative without support from patients. While these devices will collect a wide assortment of data using more sophisticated sensing, capture, and analytical functionalities, creating clinical wearables with the patient in mind is critical. Everything from size and versatility to level of comfort must be considered if vendors and physicians hope for clinical wearables to have their full potential impact.
The healthcare industry is no stranger to the rise of emerging technologies and their potential impact as new medical devices and systems continue to be developed and brought to market on a regular basis. However, there is a specific degree of collaboration and intent that needs to be established if healthcare professionals are anticipating a clinical wearable boom of a comparable degree to their consumer counterparts. Once this occurs, we will all be witness to an industry-wide acceptance of clinical wearables technology as their capabilities become engrained in the thinking and process that clinicians utilize as they work to overcome some of the most widespread issues in healthcare. The universal adoption of clinical wearables serves as a significant component to the overall mission of connected care and brings us another step closer to improving the overall health of the population.