August 22, 2014
The Future Of Wearable Technology For Health Monitoring
Rayshell Clapper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Currently, wearable devices that can track certain health information like heart rate, pulse, number of steps, sleep patterns, and such do a great job of gathering data, but don't really do much to help wearers do something more with that data. In other words, these devices have lots of great data about the individual, which can motivate and track progress, but they simply do not tell us much more than that, according to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). However, improvements could be on the horizon.
Kathleen Masterson of UCSF explains that, “Future wearable biosensors may be as small as a patch worn on the skin or an ear bud or even a tiny fiber sewn into clothing – and these tools can gather new data in real-time with patients in the real world, tracking things we couldn’t accurately measure outside a hospital until now.”
That kind of intimate data will be able to help doctors better inform, diagnose and treat patients while also providing better data for the patients to use to improve and act on their own behalf. Moreover, these future wearable devices will provide crucial data to improve precision medicine. This is a newly emerging field that is highly popular and is an integration of molecular, clinical, population, and other research that seeks to create better treatments that provide a more predictive, preventive and precise plan.
The idea is that these devices will collect accurate and detailed data for the wearer that is also appropriate and thorough enough for doctors, scientists and researchers to use to help prevent, diagnose, treat and even manage diseases and issues alike. This data will hopefully be collected in large databases that doctors, research facilities and clinics can access.
“When we have access to these large, rich data sources, we will likely see new patterns and relationships that will lead to the development of new, non-traditional ‘vital signs,’” said Michael Blum, MD, director of UCSF’s Center for Digital Health Innovation and serves as chief medical information officer of the UCSF Medical Center.
Examples of when these more accurate future wearable devices would be particularly important include patients released from the ICU and those released after a serious surgery. In both cases, while these patients are in the hospital care, they are specifically and heavily monitored, but once they are released, they go from all to nothing: no oversight, no vital signs, nothing. But the above-mentioned wearable devices that would collect so much more data and share it with databases will allow the doctors to continue tracking their critical patients who have moved to recovery and allow them to act quickly when necessary.
The UCSF article ends with descriptions of five future wearable health devices:
1. Simband – This tracks blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation and body temperature and sends the data to doctors. This will even track signs of stress.
2. Sleep Studies At Home – These consist of tiny, non-invasive biosensors that track measurements of motion, heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and rhythm and oxygen and carbon dioxide saturation for sleep studies. The only difference is people will be able to track all this from the comfort of their own beds, and the tiny biosensors will send the data to a central database for doctors and researchers to interpret and understand.
3. Knowing What Grandma Does From a Long Distance – This future technology consists of a combination of biosensors that measure and track movement and heart and respiratory rates, which helps create and identify a person’s patterns so that if any deviation happens, caretakers, doctors and family members will be able to tell and act or intervene.
4. Vital Connect patch – This is an alternative to a bulky and cumbersome holster monitor for checking for irregular heart rhythm. Data from the patch uploads into a cloud-based system and doctors can monitor this to look for signs of danger or concern.
5. High-tech Health Ear Buds – That’s right; several companies are looking at ear buds that will collect and report data such as motion, heart rate and blood pressure - as well as temperature and respiration rates.
> Further Reading: The History Of Wearable Technology
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