The Impact of Wearable Technology in Healthcare

Healthcare wearable technology

Nearly 80% of people have utilized wearable technology to monitor their health and wellbeing, and in the past few years, that usage has more than tripled across consumers of all ages. 

These devices have been instrumental in revolutionizing the way that people monitor their health and wellness, and studies have shown that when people are actively aware of how their behavior affects their health, they are more likely to try to correct it. 

Part of the reason that these wearable technologies are so impactful is that they are personalized. Each piece of technology can be customized to your situation, your normal, and your health goals. Additionally, these gadgets are completely portable and can be taken with you everywhere that you go without a thought. A smartwatch or Fitbit stays on your wrist 24/7 except for when it is charging. 

This gives people a greater sense of ownership and it can help individuals place more emphasis on their health, their habits, and on making better decisions. We can all use help with that sometimes, and wearable technology is a fantastic, readily available reminder.  

How Grand Studio Has Helped Shape the Future of Wearable Technology

Within the past few years, we have worked with two major healthcare providers to design and guide development on wearable technology that has vastly improved their patient response times. 

The first company, a major medical device provider, asked us to help integrate an ASIC chip into their wearable biometrics that provided alerts to a patient’s medical staff for patients with high fall risk. This enabled the care providers to dispatch aid to a patient without having to wait for a cord to be pulled or a button to be pressed to alert them that their patient was in trouble. This wearable was essential in improving response times to potentially life-threatening situations. 

In addition, this device was also able to alert medical staff to patients that weren’t being as active as they should be. In circumstances such as knee or hip replacements, patients need to get up and move for physical therapy. It also helped tell staff which patients needed more help. 

Our other major project involved creating a blood pressure monitoring patch that connected to tablets to provide constant and accurate readings to both the patient and their clinical staff. 

We designed this patch with women who were pregnant in mind to help them manage preeclampsia and the symptoms and danger that came with it. The patch would alert the staff when a patient’s blood pressure or heart rate went too far out of range, and the staff would then be able to call the patient to document their symptoms and provide recommendations as to how to get their blood pressure or heart rate lowered safely. 

This patch allowed women to stay home longer without having to constantly travel to the hospital every time their blood pressure spiked or dropped, and allowed them to have more comfortable, and more importantly, safer pregnancies. 

Future Trend of Healthcare Wearable Applications

As wearable technology continues to become more affordable, accessible, and commonplace, more and more healthcare professionals will be placing more emphasis on their use. 

Currently, more than 50% of providers report that wearable technology is beneficial in patient monitoring. (1) They help monitor vitals, track medications, track sleep or lack thereof, and help follow how post-op recovery is going. For patients with diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, or any other long-term, chronic conditions, wearables can be instrumental in symptom management, ensuring that medications are taken on time and properly, and in alerting doctors of any potential declines in their overall health expediently. 

The ongoing limitation has been that there is no clear-cut or standardized method of getting that information to healthcare providers. At the moment, most wearables require that the information that is collected be manually uploaded to a provider’s website or data-tracking system, though we are working with our clients to find better ways to automate this process and minimize user error, technical issues, and security and privacy concerns. 

Despite this constraint, wearables remain an exciting potential solution to help in a key element of treatment: early detection. By providing health care providers with another tool that can help them detect, diagnose, and treat conditions, both patients and providers will benefit. 

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3 Healthcare Trends to Watch

If the world’s had it rough over the past couple of years, our healthcare systems and the people who keep them running have had it even rougher. They’ve been responsible for treating huge volumes of contagious patients, battling medical misinformation along with population-wide fear and grief, and reinventing the very way care is delivered to minimize the risk of COVID transmission.

While we wouldn’t wish a repeat pandemic on anyone, it’s been inspiring to see the way healthcare has responded. Beyond their impressive resilience, healthcare has boomed with innovation and creativity.

Grand Studio had the opportunity to innovate alongside a few of them, including one of the largest private US health systems as they debuted a new ‘hospitalization at home’ process.

Check out a few exciting healthcare trends we’ve been noticing along the way.

1. An emphasis on physician mental health

We talk a lot about patient health outcomes — and with good reason. Patients, after all, are the “recipients” of healthcare, and healthcare organizations are often judged (and funded) based on those outcomes. But the person on the other end of the stethoscope also matters: not only is clinician wellbeing important in its own right, but it’s also associated with better patient health outcomes

It’s been horrific to see how working conditions during a pandemic caused providers to reach a breaking point, resulting in high levels of burnout and even suicide (an estimated 300 physicians die by suicide every year — a more significant percentage than the general population, especially among female physicians). But, although it’s come far too late, it’s gratifying to see this issue come more into popular consciousness. A 2021 Healthcare Trends Survey Report even called physician burnout and disengagement “the most potentially disruptive forces for hospitals and health systems in the next 3 years.”

We’re eager to watch what happens as people put more attention on this issue. The room for innovation is vast — from tools and processes that directly support physician mental health to improvements in processes and care delivery that support a better, more efficient working environment.

2. Adding nuance to “adherence”

The issue of “patient adherence” is a familiar term in the healthcare space, particularly for anyone dealing with chronic conditions. Even once patients are given a diagnosis and a treatment recommendation, they don’t always (or even usually) follow through. A common point of difficulty is medication adherence, which is thought to cause 100,000 preventable deaths per year, and $100 billion in preventable healthcare costs. Beyond this, it can be frustrating for clinicians to see the same people struggling with preventable issues – a person with diabetes who doesn’t come in for tests, or a person with hypertension who doesn’t take their medications.

But instead of just writing these people off as “bad patients” who don’t want to get well, there’s been a surge in acceptance of psychological and systemic forces that keep patients from becoming better. Patient engagement has moved far beyond education to include tools that work with a patient’s motivation and state of mind to help them traverse emotional and logistical issues related to illness. There is also increasing awareness of the relevance of social determinants of health, or the conditions in which people live, as it relates to adherence and wellness.

The potential for technology to support this paradigm shift is also vast. We’re seeing more and more products that take culture, race, gender identity, sexuality, housing stability, and access to food/medications into account, and see better health outcomes for it. There are no “bad patients,” just people who haven’t yet been supported by the tools we have today.

3. Maturing machine learning

While machine learning has been getting buzz for years, it’s exciting to see the promise start to really deliver within the healthcare sector. Beyond helping with diagnostic accuracy, machine learning is beginning to help clinicians anticipate when symptoms get worse, track the spread of infectious disease, help patients make important behavioral adjustments that affect their health outcomes, and personalize a treatment regime based on a person’s individual characteristics, including their genetic profile. It isn’t just powerful technology, it’s enabling a more human-centric approach to care.

In sum, it’s been a tough couple of years, but creativity and hope are alive and well, and we can’t wait to see what happens. 

Are you innovating in the healthcare field?