We’re witnessing the growing demand for IoT devices in nearly every sphere of human activity. Especially when it comes to fitness and healthcare, IoT wearable technology doesn’t seem to be groundbreaking, but rather usual.
With the outbreak of the pandemic, the medical device industry experienced a strong growth. People searched for new ways of monitoring their health, detecting the symptoms of COVID-19, and getting in touch with their doctors remotely.
Many changes that we had to make during the pandemic have become routine, yet, IoT wearable devices are still in strong demand. Moreover, healthcare providers use this technology to promote predictive medicine, leaving reactive methods in the past. This shift spreads the use of medical wearables in healthcare to the large target group of patients with chronic conditions.
It’s no surprise that this technology will continue to flourish. By 2027, the market size of wearables in medicine will likely reach $195 billion. These prospects create a friendly environment for companies and developers who want to positively contribute to the global healthcare system.
We are here to show you what predictive medicine is, why it benefits from wearable technology, and where you can apply your talent to capture a chunk of the market.
Predictive medicine is an approach that prioritizes prevention over traditional symptom treatment. That is, predictive methods aim at calculating risks and detecting early signs of an illness. In this way, healthcare specialists may prevent disease progression or offer a more effective and tailored treatment plan.
The core of predictive medicine is data collection and analysis. In this respect, wearable technology in healthcare changes the game. IoT-based medical monitoring devices automate the process of gathering essential data such as heart rate, calorie intake, sleep pattern, oxygen level, or any relevant indicator, and store it in a cloud or within one mobile app.
The Internet of things wearables build a foundation for the predictive approach, as doctors can catch even the slightest warning deviation and recommend to their patients to change their lifestyle or choose the right treatment approach.
Let’s see exactly, how wearables are transforming the healthcare industry, particularly, what the benefits of IoT wearable devices are.
Basically, IoT wearables are remote patient monitoring devices. The concept of this technology is quite straightforward: you can track your physical or mental state regularly, no matter where you are, and then share it with a healthcare specialist remotely. Yet, the benefits of wearables in healthcare lie not only in the effortless collecting and saving of medical data.
Here is how they improve the patients’ well-being:
- Warning alerts about possible issues – A health monitor device is often also a database where you can find the norms and limits of a healthy condition. Once your indicators go beyond these norms, the device or app notifies you about the adverse trend.
- Faster and more accurate diagnosing – To diagnose correctly, healthcare experts need to get as much information about your health background as possible. Dedicated medical devices store such data in one digital space, so your doctor can get a full and detailed picture at any time.
- Less healthcare-associated spending – Healthcare wearables automate a huge part of routine medical procedures, so patients have a chance to get tested only when they need it. Moreover, continuous health monitoring helps avoid additional visits to your medical specialist.
- More control over the treatment process – Smart healthcare trackers collect relevant data in the course of treatment, so patients can literally visualize their progress and be sure that the chosen specialist and therapy plan are effective.
- The immediate reaction of a health worker – Real-time health monitoring and instant alerts can save the life of a patient, especially when it comes to an emergency in a hospital.
- Better compliance to the treatment plan – Successful therapy, particularly drug treatment, depends highly on discipline. Wearable IoT devices help patients take medicine regularly and follow doctors’ instructions consistently, which may be especially crucial for patients with chronic conditions.
IoT technology in healthcare can bring these advantages to nearly any specific field of medicine. These smart devices may appear in the form of wristbands, necklaces, rings, patches, etc.
Here are some examples of wearable devices for the healthcare sector to inspire you for your own piece.
Fitness trackers & smartwatches
Smart wristbands and smartwatches are arguably the most widespread wearables in the healthcare industry. Traditionally, smartwatches were considered more feature-rich, compared to fitness trackers. However, the differences between these wearables are becoming more and more blurred.
Both first-class wristbands and smart health watches allow wearers to measure their physical activity, track their heart rate and burned calories, monitor their sleep and stress level, and even check blood oxygen levels. Besides health tracking, these IoT wearables can do your smartphone’s work by allowing you to set timers, check messages and emails, make calls, pay contactless for goods and services, and interact with various apps on your phone.
The fitness tracker and smartwatch market is quite saturated with industry leaders: Fitbit, Garmin, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi are continuously in the public eye.
Apple Watch Series 7 is one of the latest products of the tech giant. It offers all the necessary health monitoring functions, including an officially approved ECG sensor and a bunch of health tracking apps, as well as fall detection. If the Apple Watch detects you’re immobile, you will hear an alarm sound that is getting louder for people around to hear it. You can call emergency services, and if you’re not moving, it’ll be called automatically.
IoT in healthcare can sometimes partly replace professional clinic devices. For instance, wearables for those who have a risk of heart disease can measure heart rhythm and produce an electrocardiogram (ECG). This may be a life-saver for people who need to watch their rhythm regularly, as they can get an ECG right on their phone and share it with a specialist remotely.
The ECG monitoring sensor by Vivalink is a tiny wearable and rechargeable patch that you can wear round the clock and measure your heart rhythm, heart rate, respiratory rate, and other indicators. The effectiveness and accuracy of this device were proved in several studies.
Wearable IoT devices in healthcare have revolutionized the way people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels. For many people, checking it several times a day using traditional methods may be quite challenging.
Luckily, now we have continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGM) that track your blood sugar constantly and are non-invasive, and on top of that, gather all this data in one app.
Eversense developed an accurate glucose tracking system by integrating IoT wearable devices in the form of an implantable sensor and a rechargeable transmitter. The wearer can use the system for up to six months, and during this time, he or she can forget about traditional blood sugar measuring devices. The Eversense IoT system checks glucose continually and provides alerts when there are any deviations.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from asthma, and among children, it’s the most widespread chronic condition. The lack of medical assistance is the main reason for most mortality cases. Thanks to the latest advancements in predictive medicine and the IoT in the healthcare industry, it becomes easier to manage asthma and prevent attacks and severe conditions.
The Health Care Originals company has developed ADAMM, a brilliant example of healthcare wearables for chronic disease management, particularly for asthma. It’s a smart patch worn on the upper torso that tracks heart and respiratory rate, temperature, and all the warning symptoms, such as cough, wheeze, etc.
The IoT system is packed with useful features, so you can not only get notified about asthma symptoms, but also detect your inhaler and activate a voice journal with a button on the patch.
IoT and wearables in healthcare have diverse applications. As mentioned above, they can help people manage chronic diseases and assist them in the treatment process. Some patients, however, can better sense the world around them. With their advanced functionality, IoT-powered hearing devices often resemble wireless headphones, rather than old-fashioned hearing aids.
Moreover, some models can even be invisible in the wearer’s ears and come with unique customizations. This IoT wearable is exemplified by Eargo. Other than their unique design, their hearing aids also offer excellent sounding and convenient sound personalization in a dedicated app, where you can adjust the sounds to the environment or by certain characteristics.
Blood pressure monitors
Blood pressure deviations, whether hypotension or hypertension, can be the symptoms of a serious disease. For instance, high blood pressure may be a forerunner of various conditions, from kidney disease to stroke or even dementia. People at risk should watch their blood pressure regularly and change their lifestyle to a healthier one.
Healthcare technologies using IoT make blood pressure measuring easy and handy, and you don’t need to have massive traditional devices around. If you look at the HeartGuide monitor, you’ll most likely confuse it with a smartwatch.
Although they look the same, the primary function of HeartGuide is to measure your blood pressure levels and provide notifications regarding any abnormalities. Additionally, it carries out some functions of a fitness tracker, namely it monitors physical activity and sleep patterns, as well as links to your smartphone for you to stay connected.
Devices for mental health
Smart wearables in healthcare often focus on measuring the indicators of your physiological state. However, some of these devices can also improve your mental well-being. Although there is a strong connection between your physical and psychological health, IoT devices can impact emotions directly.
That’s exactly what Apollo wearables are all about. The company describes its devices as scientifically backed “wearable hugs” for people struggling with stress, anxiety, sleep, or concentration issues.
Worn on the wrist or ankle, the Apollo bracelet affects your nervous system through vibrations that are so slight that you can even forget you’re wearing it. You can choose the desired mode and intensity in the app, and for the best outcomes, the company recommends using the device three times a day, five days a week.
Smart contact lenses
The future of wearables in healthcare can sometimes resemble science fiction. IoT-powered contact lenses with AR effects, for instance, can not only improve our sight but help us see the world a bit differently, projecting the data we normally see on our smartphones or other, more traditional wearables.
Lenstore’s iLens is an example of such a fantastic project. Not only will the smart lenses take pictures and boost your sight with digital zoom but also protect your health, following the best traditions of predictive medicine. If you spend too much time at your computer or other screens, the lenses will remind you to take a break. Also, in the context of the pandemic, the lenses can help you maintain the right social distance.
Wearables for posture improvement
A healthy posture is a crucial part of general well-being. Yet, people often ignore this fact and slouch constantly, primarily because of too much time spent in front of computers, tablets, and smartphones. The right IoT wearable devices for healthcare can help wearers prevent discomfort, back pain, and other issues caused by incorrect posture.
The Upright Go 2 sensor is a great example of how wearables in healthcare work to prevent serious conditions. This device is different from typical posture trainers, as it is a small wearable that is worn on the back without any straps. The wearable detects when you’re slouching and vibrates to remind you to keep a back straight.
Although labs have been improving during the last decades, blood tests are still quite unpleasant and time-consuming. Yet, they are vital for routine general health checks, treating diseases, and in some particular situations, such as alcohol tests for drivers.
The Brolis sensors are among IoT healthcare solutions that turn invasive procedures into fast and painless ones. The technology is aimed at checking specific components in the blood, such as glucose, ethanol, cholesterol, etc. quickly and accurately, without poking your fingers and arms.
Predictive medicine is a promising branch of healthcare that makes medicine intertwine with technology more than ever. From simple fitness trackers to next-generation hearing aids and almost sci-fi contact lenses, there is a lot of room for you to express your talent and experiment.
Bring your creative mind into play, and you will do your part for the advancement of medicine and making people around the globe healthier and happier.
The Eastern Peak team has vast experience in IoT hard- and software development, so if you want to create your own healthcare IoT applications and devices, contact us for a free consultation.