If you aren’t a user of a wearable device yourself, the odds are pretty good by now that you know someone who is. In the past few years, these devices have become increasingly commonplace, adding convenience to the lives of their users. As it turns out, these devices can also have application in the healthcare industry that will improve patient care. Read on to learn more.
What are wearable devices?
The term “wearable devices” refers to any electronic device that a user wears on their body. There are many different forms of wearables, such as jewelry, medical devices, and even articles of clothing. These devices can collect information about a user’s health and exercise and, if the user elects, transmit that data to the individual’s care team.
The two most common styles of wearable device are fitness trackers and smartwatches. Fitness trackers come in various styles and price points, from clips that are worn on a shoe or belt to wristbands or rings. The primary purpose of a fitness tracker is to monitor the user’s heart rate, number of steps, and sleep patterns, among other wellness indicators. Smartwatches, which must connect to a user’s smartphone to be used, provide notifications such as texts, calls, and emails on the user’s wrist, as well as fitness tracking capabilities. In addition to these two styles of wearables, there are other, more clinical, styles such as ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, and biosensors.
4 Ways to Use Wearables to Provide Patient Care
As wearables are gaining in popularity with patients, providers can seize the opportunity to harness these tools to enhance patient care. Here are four ways to do so:
- Fall prevention and identification: The number of Americans who are at least 65 years of age is expected to reach about 100 million in the year 2060, compared to roughly 49 million in 2018. Providing care to such an aging population carries unique challenges, one of which is addressing the risk and aftermath of falls. It’s estimated that between 30 and 60% of older adults fall each year, with 10 to 20% of those falls resulting in injury, hospitalization, or even death. With the typical length of hospital stay due to falls among the elderly sitting at four to 12 days, this is a major concern. Thankfully, today’s wearables are becoming increasingly accurate at detecting not only falls, but also changes in gait that can precede a fall. This can be highly useful in increasing patient safety and expediting patient care should a fall occur.
- Physical activity monitoring: We all know that being too sedentary is bad for our health, and yet it can be difficult to find the motivation to change old habits. Many of today’s wearables feature vibration reminders that encourage the user to stand up and move around at regular intervals. Additionally, fitness trackers and most smartwatches offer activity tracking, providing some accountability for the user and valuable data for providers.
- Management of cardiac conditions: There are many types of wearable heart monitors, including wearable ECGs, patch-style heart activity monitoring systems, and wearable cardioverter defibrillators. With these devices, particularly if a provider utilizes remote patient monitoring (RPM), clinicians can keep track of their patients with cardiac conditions and be alerted of potential problems early enough to have a better chance of successful intervention.
- Diabetes management: Between traditional continuous glucose monitors and close-loop systems that use a wearable glucose monitor and implanted insulin pump, there are outstanding options for diabetes care among wearables. These devices not only facilitate better self-care and management for those with diabetes, but also, again when paired with RPM, allow providers to offer more continuous care, leading to more positive health outcomes.
As wearables gain in popularity and advance technologically, their use cases in the medical field will only grow. At Henry Schein MicroMD, we strive to be at the forefront of advancements in patient care so that when your practice is ready to take those next steps, we have the solutions you need. For those interested in beginning their journey with remote patient monitoring, our close partner, Henry Schein SolutionsHub, offers Rimidi, an RPM platform created by doctors, for doctors. Enabling clinicians to remotely monitor their patients’ blood pressure, weight, blood-glucose levels, pulse oximetry, and more, Rimidi also virtually sends encouragement and notifies providers when adjustments in treatment are necessary.
Visit SolutionsHub’s Rimidi page to learn more.
About the author,
Crystal is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. Content creation, social media management, and SEO optimization are just a few of her areas of concentration as she seeks to educate clients and prospects alike about the simple, customizable, and connected solutions we offer at MicroMD.
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