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Wearable Medical Devices: The future of Healthcare and Patient Outcomes


By Vishal Gondal

The traditional model of healthcare has focused on managing diseases. A patient with a condition visits a doctor when the burden of disease starts to cause discomfort or impact her daily life. The doctor, as a sole decision-maker, relies on incomplete data for diagnosis: mainly one-time clinical readings of typical physiological parameters, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure together with observable symptoms and subjective recall of the patient.

A partial patient history, missing information about the patient’s environment and lifestyle and no consideration of an individual’s genomics leads the doctor to conjecture a treatment. Once the patient is sent home with medication or instructions for therapy or lifestyle changes there is very little or no follow-up. The doctor does not know if the patient has taken her medication regularly as prescribed or has given up early as a result of side effects or neglect.

Consumers are slowly and steadily losing faith in the healthcare system which is seen as high cost, inefficient, and inconvenient and seek non-traditional approaches to health such as lifestyle changes, diet, nutrition, mindfulness, and alternative medicines.

Further, in the past one year, with the onset of the COVID pandemic, our lifestyles have indeed changed completely. Most are confined to their homes and that has had a huge impact on our immunity. The lockdown led to shifts in our sleep patterns, eating habits and physical activity, which are the pillars of our immune system.

During such distressed times and with not much faith in the healthcare system, Wearables indeed have become an essential commodity to help detect vital parameters and help individuals self-monitor themselves during these unprecedented pandemic times. It has become imperative for an individual to take care of his or her health on priority. COVID and other Chronic diseases represent one of the biggest challenges faced by the healthcare systems across the world. Wearable devices can be used for patient management and disease management.

Smart tech-enabled healthcare companies are forging their way ahead in bringing digital healthcare to the forefront to help individuals take care of their health.

Wearable technology presents many compelling opportunities for improving healthcare. Most Smart wearables currently designed to be a doctor on your hand. The device monitors vital health parameters of an individual including blood oxygen saturation, heart rate and blood pressure and some even has ECG monitoring.

Wearable devices not only help you modify lifestyle but also lead to longevity. Since wearable devices monitor your health and fitness on a real time basis, information and data about your health is present in abundance. With vast data on your health you can pick up impending diseases that can impact you in the long run. Thus with guidance from your doctor and corrective lifestyle and medication, one can ensure a long and healthy life.

GOQii as a company has a holistic healthcare system in place wherein the use of wearables can enable consumers to analyse their biomarkers, receive digital coaching services and benefit on their insurance plans. It also enables the medical community to use biomarker analysis in remote prognosis and treatment. Given the state of ‘Sickcare’ delivery infrastructure in India, GOQii believes that technology will lead to paradigm shifts in the healthcare industry to move towards a preventive healthcare or wellness-based model which only be the viable, long term, mass market solution.

The wearables can collect over 25000 data points on a daily basis. During the COVID times few wearables had body temperature monitoring as well. By monitoring variations in heart rate or body temperature, watches are able to help and alert people to the possibility of infection. As a result, the data these devices collect could provide people with information on which to base decisions to isolate or to seek medical advice or treatment. The wearable not only tracks sleep but the quality of sleep and fitness activity too.

The digital healthcare services available now are designed to monitor key vital parameters as a means to screen and prevent a range of diseases and disorders. Most of the companies integrate wearable technologies into their service ecosystem. The technology is intended for the qualitative detection of various health issues. Wearable technology has the potential to transform healthcare and healthcare research by enabling accessible, continuous, and longitudinal health monitoring.

However, wearable technology alone cannot do wonders as deciphering data becomes a challenge.  So, a combination of wearable along with a personalized coach who can check the data and guide you properly towards lifestyle modification would be ideal and that is where the healthcare system is heading towards.

(The author is Founder & CEO, GOQii and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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