As technology continues to evolve, so too does the individual’s ability to monitor their health. Wearable health technology is rapidly becoming a significant component of the healthcare industry as sensors and artificial intelligence continue to improve. As wearable technology is a relatively new area of health care, there is little information regarding its future use and its place in healthcare provision. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have conducted a study attempting to address the lack of information with wearables and their relationship to cardiac health.
Although wearables can help measure data related to temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen, breathing rate, physical movement, and the electrical activity of several organs, there is little information about how often doctors discuss the technology with their patients.The researchers analyzed notes with referrals to wearables from outpatient providers. The search terms were devised of wearable device related terms such as smartwatch and fitness tracker. Along with wearable device brands including Garmin, AliveCor Kardia, Fitbit, and Apple Watch.
The study found that there was a significant increase in the referencing of wearable-related terms from 2005 to 2019. In 2005, the researchers had found that only one search term within approximately 150,000 patient notes was found relating to wearables. By 2019, the mentions of wearables had increased to approximately 2,900 times within about 250,000 patient notes. The researchers believe the significant increase came as a result of the introduction of Fitbit. While the Fitbit was introduced to the public in 2009, its increase in references only came in 2012. By 2019, Fitbit was found to be the most commonly named wearable device brand. However, since the finalization of the study, Apple Watch has surpassed the Fitbit in sales. The citations of Apple Watch within Doctor to cardiac health talks is expected to have increased.
Experts believe that wearables could become a critical component of telehealth provision. Continued advancements in sensor and artificial intelligence will help physicians and patients to utilize wearables to a greater extent. Experts contend that there are several advantages to using data from wearables. This includes improving the accuracy and efficiency of clinical visits and developing a more personalized, clear, trusting relationship with their patients. However, experts have maintained that more research is needed before physicians can trust the information of wearables.