Health is becoming a growing concern as population increases as mortality rate is becoming one of the key indicators of the development index of a country. Hence, technology’s investment in health sector is not a surprise by any means. Among the many interventions, the very recent introduction of a series of consumer wearable objects has been one of the prime factors that concern the medical community. Of course, technology is used in abundance, but such uses do come with certain concern.
While the concern is there, it is impossible to deny the amount of growth such technology has seen over the years and the trends predict it to grow exponentially in the years to come. In fact, the day is not far when a single device can provide you all the health data and furthermore, applies analytics to tell you what to do and what to avoid keeping your diseases at bay.
The range of functions
There are quite a few of such gadgets and they come with fancy names. If you have seen smart watches, then you have already witnessed some of these gadgets. From heart rate to muscle activity, from stress due to overwork to disjoint sleep patterns, from lack of physical activity to female fertility- the range of it is overwhelming. These data can be further shared over the cloud using various communication methods such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
All of these wearable gadgets can be personalized and ensured that there is little mediation from the device perspective. So, even if you are wearing them, you will not feel that you are being monitored or tested which is surely preferable to most diagnostic tests. In fact, these gadgets are mostly long-lasting given they are simple sensors and can withstand standard wear and tear.
What could it change for healthy individuals?
The funny thing is, the demand of such wearable devices is higher among healthy individuals than those who suffer from one kind of health concern or the other. In other words, those who are health conscious and in turn, healthy, are the ones who buy them to further improve physical performance and ensure that they are following the right habits. These devices serve multiple purposes and provide immediate feedback with virtual rewards so that there is a constant incentive for growth for healthy individuals.
While these devices are often hailed as life hacks where you control your life by getting some feedback from these devices, such accounts have been entirely subjective and individual reports instead of quantitative analysis of the data. While pedometers have displayed greater activity among older users, younger people are a demographic concept that has remained unexplored. In fact, such devices can be only understood in terms of long term effects but most people stop using it after a year or two.
For patients with chronic illness
While healthy people can get healthier, the device is actually targeted towards those who really have some health problem. Patients who suffer from a specific illness will be really benefited if the devices contribute to easy data gathering and analytics so that these devices can become an alternative for expensive tests. While there are some diseases, especially those that are immediately recognizable through the range of data these devices can primarily measure, a wide range of diseases still remains untapped.
Depression, sleep apnoea- diseases that can be tracked through sleeping patterns can be identified. In fact, wearable devices can predict and prevent certain diseases if you note down the irregularities that the medical data throws up. These devices may well be preferred because of its integration between analytics, data gathering and sharing and feedback. Medical issues that heavily impact your life daily such as obesity, panic attack, anxiety and traumatic stress can surely be dealt with. But, once you are away from home, it becomes unusable.
Is security ensured?
Another issue of concern in this regard is the data security while sharing on cloud. Such excessive monitoring and continuous sharing of medical data can lead to overanxious mentality and often, misdiagnosis. If you are always paranoid about health, then it may lead to unnecessary stress which is hardly the goal. Moreover, understanding that this is a potentially untapped market, quite a few players have already emerged who claim to provide the best devices with most valid results. Not only does so much data and choice confuse a section of individuals, it may also irk them and make them move away from the gadget obsession gripping the world ever so tightly.