According to some physicians, one of the biggest benefits of wearables will be for doctors to diagnose patients at a distance, or at least learn whether they need to come in for a further check up. Radiologist Dr. Mark Amstrong believes that if doctors can look at a patient’s blood sugar levels, their heart rate and their blood oxygen levels, they should be able to use that data with historic records and previous ailments, in order to tell if everything is ok with a person.
Smartwatches are expected to become the wearable of choice for 2015, with Apple introducing its smartband soon and Intel bringing out its own Basis fitness band not soon after. While neither can track glucose levels as of yet (at least, they haven’t announced it) it’s a feature that is thought not to be too far away. Already the heartrate and blood contents (like oxygen, iron and haemoglobin) can be tracked, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that this sort of medically usable wearable could be available in the near future.
What will be interesting, is when that boundary between personal fitness, health and well being and the medical world begin to blend into one another. While nobody will be legally allowed to dispense medical advice via an application or otherwise, it may be possible through the use of platforms like Web-MD, to give you a basic prognosis based on data collected on your by your wearable device(s).
At the very least however, those sorts of measurements will be able to make people fitter (if they use it) and should therefore avoid some of the basic health problems caused by issues with glucose regulation or heart rate, as fitness and good diet can help with things like diabetes and reducing your resting heart rate.
However, it’s the long term benefits of wearable tracking that is the most exciting, as on top of giving you immediate benefits, data gathered over months and years can offer a lot more detailed information on the way your body behaves and how it is acting when you’re not well or potentially set to become so. This can give you a heads up and a reminder to take special care or take it easy if you’re not 100 per cent.
Of course a doctor’s attention is much better than that, but everyone could become a lot healthier with wearables in the future if the data is handled correctly.
Image source: Lisa Brewster