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In the past few years, large companies have been scrambling to harness and interpret the data that is linked with our lives. Of course, we are familiar with how this relates to our streaming video habits and social media preferences, but the human body also produces huge quantities of data. From the number of steps we take, to our heart rate, to blood sugar, to the amount of calories we consume, our very existence is the product of an intricate numbers game. So, there’s no question that the healthcare industry is exploring how wearables could impact patient treatment. Wearables are officially a thing, and as we move from the “what if” to the “how to”, MedCity News has compiled a list of four things to look for in healthcare wearables.

HealthKit

When Apple introduced HealthKit in 2014, a new world of data sharing was made available to app developers. The HealthKit framework was unique in that it allowed compatible apps to talk with the native Health app, and share data with other developers and devices without the need to form partnerships. Right now, HealthKit is being used to track users’ step counts and calorie intake. But ever since Apple made the push for their framework to be integrated into clinical uses, we could see apps go beyond reminding you to drink more water and instead play a role in diagnosis and treatment.

 

Shifting to Actionable Information

We have gotten very good at collecting data. Our phones can act as pedometers, and little wristbands can give us feedback on the quality of our sleep. However, this huge list of data is often just that— a static list. The next question is figuring out how we can use that data to leave fuller, healthier lives. Rapidly advancing analytics seem to be taking that first steps, as data is being cross referenced and checked to give us personalized insights and instructions on how to better our quality of life.

 

Institutional Impacts

The data collected from wearables could easily be used by insurance companies to assess risks and create incentive based programs for healthy behavior. They can also be used for improving patient care, as physicians could monitor several aspects of a patient’s well-being in real time. Lastly, the pharmaceutical industry could take advantage of these new technologies by tracking client responses to new drugs, refining and expediting the FDA approval process.

 

Improved Patient Monitoring

This might be the most important application, especially for persons with chronic illnesses or the need for a caretaker. Remember that old Life Alert commercial? Wearables and the data gathered from the body could streamline the process of getting assistance when it’s needed most. For example, a monitored patient whose blood sugar takes a sharp drop, or whose heartbeat is growing increasingly erratic could get medical help as soon as those symptoms show themselves.