In recent years we are seeing that wearables, such as smartwatches and activity wristbands, have become increasingly popular, and the healthcare industry has seen them as an essential asset to optimize patient treatment and hospital productivity. It is not surprising that this market is going to experience strong growth in the coming years. According to data from Fortune Business, sales of these devices could reach $ 139 billion in 2026. With this growth on the horizon, wearables are called to decisively transform the future of healthcare.
Benefits of wearable devices
Growing adoption of smartwatches
For patients, smartwatches provide the ability to monitor everything from their vital signs to the quality of sleep, sending reminders to take medication or even allowing them to report symptoms of an ailment. For healthcare professionals, these devices can provide access to electronic patient health records (EHRs) and provide real-time notifications for better care. In fact, according to a survey of hospital managers conducted by the nonprofit Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and AT&T, 47% of hospitals are currently offering wearables to patients with chronic diseases.
Smartwatches are not the only wearable used by healthcare. There are also smart headphones, rings, and patches; also augmented reality (AR) glasses and even smart shirts. The smart patches capture hydration levels, body temperature, and heart rate, among other biometric data. Another emerging market is smart hearing aids, which measure the health of patients and at the same time can provide information through a digital training system.
On the other hand, the smart rings are capable of measuring the heart rate of patients, the quality of sleep, the respiratory rate, and the body temperature. Smart glasses are increasingly used by clinicians to access EHR data or to transcribe important clinical information after visiting hospitalized patients. We are also seeing the emergence of apparel with advanced biosensors. Gone are the days when wearables could only measure heart rate, steps, and calories. Some are now able to measure hydration, electrolytes, EKG, blood pressure, muscle load, or level of fatigue.
The creation of smart medical tissues for use in medical applications has become even more complex and challenging. Using body biometry technology, it is possible to monitor both physical exercises and the user’s health through sensors installed in the fabric weave, as is the case with the Sensoria smart sock. The smart fabrics can be used in medical treatments such as physiotherapy and also in sports fashion and fitness with the most diverse types of products to help users have a greater performance of their exercises to lose weight or gain muscle mass. The smart monitoring fabrics will be able to connect via smartphone with Artificial Intelligence supercomputers such as IBM’s Watson for prevention and early diagnosis of the user through the biometric data obtained by the smart clothing.
Wearable technologies are likely to stay here. The technology will improve even more and become even more present in the coming years. Hospitals and health care organizations should be wise enough to research how this can be used strategically to improve patient care and also the work of their teams.