Thursday, October 27, 2016
Wearable Technology Seems To Have A Major Future In The Medical Domain.
This appeared last week:
| 14 October, 2016 |
The explosion in wearable technology in recent years may be a commercial fad but many believe it will benefit doctors in treating patients. Australian Doctor takes a look.
Basic is probably the word that best describes the technology used in most pedometers back in the 1990s.
The device attached to your belt. A sensor counted up the steps and, well, that was about it.
Now, compare this with the Samsung belt launched in January.
Yes, it counts steps, but the sensors also measure distance travelled, activity and sedentary time, calories burned, waistline size based on belt tension. Then it sends the data to a smart phone app that suggests how best to manage your weight.
The only flaw is its name — the “welt”. Apparently nothing to do with skin lesions but a play on the words ‘belt’ and ‘wellness’.
There is now a wearable for just about every part of the body — smart watches for the wrist, smart glasses for the face, sensors to access pelvic floor muscles for the vagina and hearing aids incorporating health-tracking features for the ear.
All these devices are designed to capture various physiological data from physical activity and body temperature to electrodermal activity and glucose levels.
And all this information can be beamed, in theory, directly to a patient’s doctor.
Despite the hype that accompanies most modern things that go ping, there’s something serious happening and the hope is that this technology as it evolves can soon be integrated into general practice.
One example of a clinically useful wearable device becoming commonplace soon is the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device according to Professor Tim Usherwood from the department of general practice at the University of Sydney.
He says it already allows diabetes patients to generate reports on their glucose levels so that their GP can use the data to identify, for instance, “a need to increase morning insulin because they can see regular glucose peaks at 11am”.
Another example in clinical trials in the UK involves a wearable device to measure physical activity, but in a way that users can input subjective information about how they’re feeling as well.
“The activity and subjective data are collected and analysed to generate patient prompts such as ‘if you’re feeling low and haven’t been active much today, consider booking an appointment with your GP’,” says Professor Usherwood.
“I laugh when people say that doctors hate technology,’ says Dr Louise Schaper, CEO of the Health Informatics Society of Australia.
“Doctors love technology. Just look at their uptake of smart phones. What doctors don’t like, however, is poorly designed technology that doesn’t enhance workflows, or improve decision-making and efficiency.”
As wearable technology moves forward, she stresses that the devices will have to move beyond capturing data.
“We’ll need to develop effective and useful data analytics,” she says. “And it has got to be integrated into GP IT systems.
“The GP opens up the medical record and sees a dashboard of clinically useful highlights which can be talked about with the patient on the spot.”
It’s a lot to achieve. But the first measured steps are being taken.
Read the list with in-depth descriptions here:
Really well worth a browse!
Posted by Dr David More MB PhD FACHI at Thursday, October 27, 2016