1. PREDICT PATIENT ILLNESSES
Physicians can use data from wearables and apply predictive analytics to better understand patients’ potential for illnesses or diseases. New wearables and apps, for example, can collect and monitor vital signs to identify potential coronary problems such as heart disease. Doctors can then provide a course of treatment, including preventive care, to mitigate the risk.
The analytics can be combined with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and other technological approaches to increase the accuracy of predictions. Researchers from the University of Waterloo found that applying AI to the right combination of data from wearables, including wearable sensors, may detect if a person’s health is failing. According to the study, data could predict if a person is experiencing the onset of a respiratory or cardiovascular disease, for example.
Meanwhile, research from Stanford found that wearables can predict health risks before people even know they’re sick. Wearables can tell when a person’s heart rate, skin temperature and other readings have changed, pointing to a possible illness.
2. MONITOR AT-HOME PATIENTS
Many traditional wearables track heart rate, sleeping patterns, calories and other details. People suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease can wear special skin sensors or other wearables that collect additional data. This data can be shared directly with doctors, who can identify issues or changes in health behaviors that require immediate intervention.
In addition, a wearable device that enables chronically ill patients to live at home rather than staying in a hospital or other care facility can save money while allowing people to be in a familiar setting. The devices can send data to doctors or other caregivers for ongoing monitoring.
3. OBSERVE AND ENCOURAGE PATIENTS AFTER SURGERY
Wearables provide that information while helping both patients and doctors track progress. That’s why, for instance, doctors at a healthcare facility in Los Angeles give Fitbits to patients who have knee or hip replacements or other surgeries to encourage them to walk and track their steps. Walking more after surgery can help improve recovery and reduce the stay in a care facility. Another type of wearable device, like the Claris Reflex, is placed above and below the knee to monitor recovery after a knee replacement. The device collects data including range of motion, exercise compliance, wound area temperature and more, which doctors can analyze.
Facilities such as ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) can use wearables to remind patients of doctors’ instructions after surgery. For example, physicians’ directions can be programmed into apps or wearables for taking medications, recognizing problems like infections, following treatment plans and following a proper diet.