Smartwatches will revolutionise treatment for chronic conditions

  • How mobile became mighty in healthcare
  • Exponential growth in the big brands

Exponential growth

In 1972, the first digital watch was created; it could store 24 digits – a first in user programmable memory. Today’s smartwatches can monitor and store fitness statistics, check vital signs and even remind you to take medication. Smartwatches have explosive potential in the healthcare space thanks to their sensors, ability to sync to mobile health platforms and transmit sensor data to the cloud. Smartwatches will start to go beyond just monitoring and tracking personal wellness and will help to predict and diagnose disease.

According to IMS Research, the wearables market is poised to grow from 14m devices shipped in 2011 to as many as 171m units shipped by 2016. And in a more recent estimate, ABI Research foresees the wearables market at 485m annual devices shipped by 2018.

The urge for wearables and smartwatches is fuelled by the more than 75% of all patients expected to use digital services in the future. And according to McKinsey, it’s a myth that only young people want to use digital services. Its research shows that patients from all age groups are willing to use digital services for healthcare.

More specifically, according to BI Intelligence, 35% of consumers are interested in smart sensor-enabled wrist wear and 40% are interested in medical devices that transmit data.

Nikefuel band, fitbit and jawbone were some of the early activity trackers, as well as platform services such as Tictrac that came on the scene to aggregate health data into dashboards for users. The dashboard showcases such information as activity, heart rate and sleep.

The next generation of smartwatches will employ additional technology including the accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, compass, heart-rate monitor, altimeter and an ambient light sensor, to name a few. Inside their wearables, Samsung and Google are already detecting body temperature as well as location, and integrating voice commands. Apple’s vision is to find a way to load more into its new devices and platforms.

Google Fit/Google Wear

Google announced and introduced the Google Fit platform at its 2014 Google I/O conference. Its focus is to aggregate health data from wearables, trackers and health apps and put it in one central repository. This data will be aggregated through open APIs which allow sharing of information. Google fit may also be built into Android Wear – its operating system for smartwatches.

Apple iWatch/Healthkit

All indications point towards Apple putting a huge push behind digital health and the forthcoming iWatch/Healthkit. Analysts are predicting that this could be the next iPhone/iPad. According to MacRumors, the iWatch will deliver an impressive number of advanced health-related capabilities. The iWatch is said to include 10 different sensors to track health and fitness, providing a comprehensive picture of health and making the health-tracking experience far more accessible to the broader population. The iWatch in conjunction with healthkit will aggregate as many as 50 to 60 different biometrics, providing statistical analysis, graphs and trends.

Samsung Simband/Sami

Samsung has already invited developers to help to create hardware and software for its new health initiative, the Samsung Simband/Sami. Simband’s proof of concept sensors include photo sensing, pulse, EKG and blood data (eg blood oxygen levels and blood flow), respiration, galcinic skin response (GSR) and body temperature. All this information can then be integrated into its cloud-based data platform Sami.

Self-tracking is becoming part of the overall treatment paradigm. Patients are sharing and monitoring health data more than ever before with their clinicians. And the percentage of physicians who report patients sharing their health measurement data has already hit an all-time high. Physicians all around the world are “prescribing” mhealth apps. Similarly, smartwatches will be the natural evolution in patients taking on a more active role with their health and helping physicians to diagnose illness and perhaps even curb chronic conditions through monitoring real-time biometric data. Smartwatches are going to be essential to the future of health and wellness.

Read more at the Guardian.com

THE AUTHOR

Nic McCoy

Co-Founder and Director of Talent Solutions

Nick is an experienced sales, marketing and recruitment professional with the last 12 yrs+ spent working with Medical technology companies and digital health innovators.

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