The Role Of Wearables In Healthcare

Dinesh Kandanchatha | June 15, 2021 | 3 Min Read

With the warm weather, you’ll see more people out on the streets and trails wearing fitness trackers like the Fitbit. It's no surprise. After all, the wearable-healthcare-devices market is experiencing exponential growth. Wearables offer us quite a bit of reward, but also come with some risks.

A sure sign of summer around the corner is the abundance of runners on the trails and sidewalks. And if you look closely, you’ll notice many of them donning health tracker devices on their wrists, including Fitbit or the Apple Watch.

The ubiquity of these devices is becoming the norm. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global wearable healthcare devices market size is projected to reach $46.6 billion by 2025. That’s up from $18.4 billion in 2020.

In the U.S., an estimated 20 percent of residents currently own a wearable device.

If you’re the owner of a wearable healthcare device, you’ll recognize the ample insights it offers regarding your health. From measuring your resting heart rate to keeping track of your breathing patterns while you sleep, wearable devices allow us to remain on top of our health.

But wearable devices are doing much more than that. They’re helping us tackle serious illnesses, including neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Yet, even with all the great things wearable devices do for us, there are always concerns when your health data intersects with technology—namely, cybersecurity threats.

Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits and the risks of using wearable technology.

 

Wearables and Heart Health

The American College of Cardiology notes that wearable technology can help you become more active as you track certain habits, including your heart rate, breathing, and day-to-day activity levels.

One of the greatest benefits of wearable technology is the autonomy it grants you over your health. You can set your own health and fitness goals with support from your device. Nevertheless, a Fitbit is not a replacement for your health care team, the College notes.

The main benefit of wearables is that people become more engaged with their own health after they begin to monitor themselves. The access to real-time data from your device is a catalyst in this engagement.

And the longer your device collects data on your health, the clearer the patterns become—whether that’s around how much sleep you get or how many steps you take in a day.

 

Wearables and Neurodegenerative Disease

The University of Waterloo is conducting research on how wearable technology can help with diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s—both ailments of the brain.

Researchers are using wearable technology in an effort to keep track of patients with these neurodegenerative ailments. This tracking observes how patients sleep and their levels of social engagement, among other things.

The wearable technology helps dementia patients monitor and self-manage symptoms. And this means patients understand when an intervention involving a clinician is needed.

Wearables also offer clinicians ample data on patients with dementia, and that could help with providing better, more targeted care.

 

Wearables and Cybersecurity Concerns

Anytime your personal data is linked to a connected device, there’s always the risk it can get hacked. But experts say the risk is low, even when wearables are used in a corporate setting.

The issue with most wearable devices is they don’t have built-in security. Jeff Pollard of Forrester Research notes that when these wearable devices are used in a corporate setting, the risk could include access to data such as employee location, since some wearable devices offer geolocation data.

 

The Wearables Are Taking Over

It’s too soon to tell how large of a role wearable technology will have in healthcare in the years to come. But the influx of money being pumped into wearable technology is a sign that wearables will continue to help us track our steps, and in some cases, our brain function.

Even with the cybersecurity risks, wearable technology will continue to see growth.

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