Pedometers or “step counters” were some of the first wearables, but the world has expanded beyond that. Now wearable tech is used not just in fitness, but disease prevention and compliance. Let’s take a closer look at three key ways how wearable devices are used in healthcare:
1. Patient monitoring and preventive detection
Kate is a 35-year-old woman who maintains good health through whole foods and regular exercise. She uses a smartwatch that tracks her fitness. One afternoon, she goes for a run and feels great. A few hours later, she feels extremely lightheaded. She checks her smartwatch and sees her pulse is much higher than it should be. After consulting with her spouse, she goes to the hospital where she has an EKG.
The EKG is arguably the most accurate way to measure one’s pulse, but it’s only for a snapshot in time. But because Kate wears a smartwatch regularly, her care team can access this data with her permission and see a longer view of her changing pulse. While not as precise as an EKG, this information gained from her wearable health tech can help offer insights into what caused her to feel lightheaded and when.
Kate is discharged, but her provider sends her home with another wearable healthcare device: a heart monitor that she’ll wear for several days in order to gather a greater amount of precise data. This will allow her team to respond fast if there are sudden changes, and the insights gained will help her care team offer future care more immediately.
2. Treatment compliance
Wearable health tech can also help doctors ensure patients are complying with prescribed treatment programs. Push notifications can alert patients to specific tasks, such as taking medications at a certain time. This enables a digital “conversation” between patients and providers. For example, once the patient has marked the task “complete,” providers can assume the patient took the medication. If the task is ignored more times than appropriate, providers can note this as well, and reach out to discuss any potential issues that are affecting the lack of compliance.
3. Insurance pricing and premiums
As the cost of healthcare slowly rises, patients and providers look for ways to maximize their healthcare spend. Insurance payers, noting a correlation between increased engagement and better outcomes, have sought ways to incentivize patients to take a more proactive role in their health. Many insurance payers now provide discount pricing for members who wear a smartwatch or healthcare device and log activities. There are a variety of related apps that facilitate this compliance through challenges and gamification, such as drinking a certain amount of water each day and moving one’s body for a number of minutes.
Not only does this engagement help patients, the data collected also helps insurers personalize the healthcare experience for users. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the data can be used to generate predictive analytics about behaviors and health issues.
Wearable tech and Salesforce wear
Salesforce understands the power and impact of wearable tech; that’s why they developed Salesforce Wear, a collection of open-source apps used to design and build wearable apps for both Apple and Android products. The apps connect to the Salesforce platform, so developers can build on existing mobile apps as well.
How do they work?
The design is complex, but the communication is straightforward: essentially connecting Salesforce, the user’s phone, and the user’s smartwatch. When action is needed, Salesforce will send a push notification to the appropriate service, which in turn will push a notification to all the products where the app is installed (e.g., the user’s phone). The phone will then send a push notification to the user’s smartwatch.
This interaction can also go in the reverse direction. For example, if the person works out while wearing his smartwatch, data such as heart rate will be sent to the smartphone, which sends a notification to a server where the information will be securely stored.