The Impact of Wearables on the Patient Experience

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Recently, I was in a big rut. I was just going through the motions when it came to working out and I was not on my game with my diet as much as I could be. It’s not like I eat a lot of sweets—I don’t crave ice cream or chocolate, but I do like wine and pizza.

I realize I am my worst critic, and I also realize that I am 41—and not 30. I say 30 because I was in my fitness prime back then. I was living in Boulder and doing multiple triathlons, and running and bike races weekly (sometimes in the same weekend); I spent my weekends working out instead of socializing. That David is long gone and my life is totally different now. Training like that took a lot of time and discipline and I did sacrifice a lot of things then that make me happy now.

About two months ago, I was finding the need to end my rut and bring back parts of the 30-year-old version of me from Boulder without sacrificing the things that make me happy now—friends, family DJing, wine, and pizza. So, I bought a fitness band, downloaded MyFitnessPal, and made it my goal to stick with it for 6 months. I had my doubts, but I wanted to see what all the craze around wearables was about. Wearables and the Patient Experience

Consumers crave convenient easy-to-use low effort technology that exponentially benefits their everyday lives—and that is exactly what health apps and wearables do. In fact, an Accenture study found that the use of health apps has doubled in the past two years (33% in 2016 vs. 16% in 2014), and the use  of health wearables has also doubled (21% in 2016 vs. 9% in 2014). Providers are realizing that mobile and wearable technology is empowering their patients to take control of their health and take better care of themselves—which ultimately helps deliver better outcomes.

Our bodies are organic data centers. We produce large amounts of data 24 hours 7 days a week. Wearables are quickly becoming more than just a motivational tool for consumers. Just as we use our personal health data from wearables to adjust our workouts and diet, providers can do the same on a larger scale. Using analytics, providers and organizations can use personal health data to see trends and patterns in different demographics and locations and incorporate those trends into population health management strategies and preventative care.

Healthcare apps and wearables capture vast amounts of valuable real-time patient data such as weight, diet, activity levels, sleep patterns and symptoms that can give providers more insight about their patient’s status than a single 20-minute check in. Thanks to improvements in sensors, and better syncing with mobile apps wearables are starting to go beyond just monitoring and tracking personal wellness to managing chronic disease such as diabetes or asthma. Clinicians will be able to remotely track patients’ biometrics and alert them of potential complications before they occur and cause a visit to the emergency room.

Mobile and wearable technology can also help providers address the challenge of getting their patients to take control of their health once they leave the hospital. Through secure cloud portals patients can enter and track their blood pressure, insulin levels, and current symptoms. Providers can use this data to see trends in their patients’ condition so they can alter treatment plans and make better informed decisions.

It has now been two-months and I have lost 12 pounds, gained 2 pounds of muscle, I am working out 6 days a week (even adding two-a-days) and I’m still enjoying my life essentials (as mentioned above). The fitness band wasn’t telling me to hold off on a cheat meal until the weekend, or add an extra mile to my run, ride or swim; but it did help me keep know where I stood at the end of each day. It helped me make one good healthy decision at a time.