Wearable devices are now being used by healthcare professionals to analyze and monitor wellness data from patients. Doctors can use them to obtain vital data from patients who are at home, and subsequently use this data to gain more knowledge about disease treatment and prevention.
In an exclusive interview with IT in Canada, Dr. Rick Hu, founder and CEO of Vivametrica, discusses wearable technology, how it will benefit both doctors and patients, and what the future holds for these devices.
IT in Canada: Wearable technology is quickly gaining popularity. What is the reason for this?
Hu: It’s really about the confluence of technology, need and opportunity. From a health perspective, a few years ago, the scientific world began to understand that activity is the most important indicator of our health and risks for disease. This realization, backed by a lot of hard science, has aligned with manufacturers’ ability to mass produce an increasingly sophisticated range of accelerometers and bio-sensors.
ITIC: Why is now the time for healthcare providers to get involved with this kind of technology?
RH: From a public health perspective, we face a present where often preventable chronic diseases are becoming global epidemics, and a future that will necessarily rely on remote and home-based care solutions to service an aging population. Wearables – and more importantly, the data they produce – represent an important part of the technical solutions that will be required to combat these widespread health challenges.
ITIC: How can the healthcare industry benefit from the implementation of wearable devices?
RH: The use cases are multiple and range from giving care providers the ability to make better decisions about orders of surgical priority and measure the progress of rehabilitating patients, to creating cost-effective, patient-centric solutions for home-based care regimens. Doctors will soon better understand how to apply wearables data in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.
Health systems will study massive biometric data sets to tap into their inherent value for managing health and improving operating efficiencies. Health insurance providers will have more tools to calculate risks and inform policy offerings. Health researchers focused on the use of wearables will be greater in number and looking at detailed questions and use cases in a wide variety of disease categories.
ITIC: What are some of the challenges involved with using these devices?
RH: From a physician’s point of view, health wearables are only as useful as the data they generate. Our goal in pioneering a standardized process is to create a new approach to health management by analyzing data in a way that is meaningful and actionable for individuals and care providers.
ITIC: What does the future hold for the use of wearables in the healthcare industry?
RH: In a nutshell, what we all want is to harness the power of change to feel better, be healthier and live longer. Data from wearables and our smart phones gives us the “what” of the change equation by showing us how our activity adds up each day, while analysis give us the “how.”
As we look to build smarter platforms that utilize the capabilities of the rapidly evolving wearable technology space, the optimal goal should be seamlessly integrating these measurement tools into people¹s daily lives and providing meaningful information that helps them change for the better. Enacting smart analytics that take advantage of advanced measurement will lead to an outcome that is healthier for all.
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