The Future of Wearable Medical Devices
The Future of Wearable Medical Devices
Health wearables are slowly becoming a trend. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more patients and health practitioners recognized the need for improved telemedicine and remote data gathering. This revolution in the healthcare industry allowed clinicians to track patients in real time while allowing patients to take a more active role in their health. Patients became activated patients and drove better clinical results. Therefore, it is evident why the wearable healthcare technology market is on an upward trajectory.
Wearable Technology Market
According to GlobeNewswire, the market for this technology is expected to grow to $380 billion by 2028. Global shipments for wearables have increased by 9.9% in the third quarter of 2021. Most of the market share went to hearables (64.7%), followed closely by the product most commonly associated with remote health: wristwatches (34.7%).
Customers don wearable technology for healthcare to track their vitals and make necessary improvements to their lifestyles. Studies show that wearable technology positively affects chronic disease management and that patients with diabetes and cardiac diseases benefit the most. They connect wearables to their EHR, feeding them up-to-date information and allowing care providers to make educated decisions about their health. In other words, remote patient tracking serves patients and clinicians and respectfully improves their lives and professions.
Famous Examples of Healthcare Wearable Technology
The FDA must approve all medical devices before they reach the market. To that end, FDA defines what constitutes a medical device: any device intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of a disease or a condition without causing a chemical reaction in the body.
In 2018, the FDA approved Apple Watch due to its electrocardiogram that tracks the consumer’s vitals. Connecting this wearable health device to one’s electronic health records assigns it an active role in the patient’s health delivery. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the most popular devices patients use:
- Fitness Trackers:
Belonging to the popular wristband technology, these bands track the user’s heart rate and physical activity. It is further possible to connect this device to other apps or machines to receive recommendations for improvement of one’s health.
- Smart Watches
Medical device wearables offer many advantages to consumers. Therefore, it is understandable that, in 2020, one in every five Americans sported a smartwatch. This device provides excellent health metrics: it tracks one’s steps, calories burnt, and heart rate, among other parameters. From there, it is possible to connect the accumulated results and use them in clinical decision-making.
- ECG Monitors
This wearable technology in healthcare allows patients to track heart rhythms and rates at home. For chronic patients and ones with heart diseases, this is essential to improve their health and make care providers’ jobs easier.
- Wearable Biosensors
Biosensors are still a developing technology, and it remains to be seen just how beneficial they will be. For now, they function on gathering patient data through biochemical markers in biofluids. As medical wearable devices, biosensors collect data through sweat, saliva, tears, and other bodily fluids, giving clinicians a fuller picture of the patient’s health.
- Smart Clothing
While smart clothes don’t necessarily have health as their focus, they still have health-related perks. These clothes grant the wearer protection against the sun, can emit vibrations and can collect health data.
It is worth noting that the healthcare industry is the most lucrative target for cybercriminals. Wearable devices in healthcare and their growing numbers suggest that hackers now have more targets for their attacks. Especially concerning is the fact that, for twelve consecutive years, healthcare has been the most targeted industry, above finance or tech. The sensitive nature of data and the necessity for uninterrupted workflow makes healthcare perfect for ransomware.
The growing number of devices intended to assist clinicians in their diagnosis and treatment suggests that we need to increase the security of our medical wearable devices.
The Future of Wearable Technology in Healthcare
Several reasons are going to affect wearable technology related to health. First, technological advancements make it easier to design and construct non-intrusive technologies that monitor one’s health. Second, technological evolution will solve some pressing technical challenges, such as these devices’ short battery life and size. Implantables, which already have a prominent role in healthcare (pacemakers), will take center stage with the miniaturization of this technology. Wearable health monitoring devices and any technology with similar monitoring functions will be easy to put on, use, and manage, effectively improving the quality of life and health delivery.
Multiple factors will influence the growing demand for this technology on the market. According to Research and Markets, the global fitness tracker market will reach nearly $10 billion by 2027. Wearables will move more towards preventive care, diagnostics, and urgent care.
Healthcare wearable devices will also experience a boom due to:
- Aging population
- Improved and optimized devices
- Better integration with connected software
We will see just how big the implantable technology in healthcare will become, but it’s a safe bet to assume that it will grow along with the industry.