Healthcare Wearables: Thoughts from the Experts on Challenges & Potential Breakthroughs

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We love wearable technology at MedTech Boston. We’re constantly reporting on the hottest new trends and the life-changing capabilities of devices like the iThermonitor, embr’s Wristify and Google Glass. We’re even helping with Medstro’s Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge, which will culminate in a live pitch-off in Boston this April.

But the use of wearable technology in healthcare is also mired with frustrations and controversies of all sorts. How can we provide these tools to patients who can’t afford to purchase the pricey gadgets? How can we bring these technology wonders into line with our finicky and frustrating EHRs? Is this wearable trend really going to make that big of a difference – or is it simply trendy?

In our second expert post of the year, we decided to check in with our expert network of physicians, innovators and entrepreneurs. What are the biggest challenges of bringing wearable tech into our healthcare system? What areas hold the biggest potential? As the people on the ground-floor of this rapidly transforming industry, these six experts have answers:

Karandeep Singh, MD

karandeepDr. Singh is a nephrology fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a Master’s candidate in Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School.

What’s the biggest challenge facing wearables in healthcare? “Wearables have engaged consumers of healthcare in new ways by providing the ability to capture and track health information, but this information frequently lives in silos outside the healthcare system and is non-actionable. Transforming wearables into two-way communication devices with a healthcare professional or population health manager on the other end will be essential in maximizing their utility for those with chronic illnesses.”

Where’s the biggest potential for wearables in healthcare? “A critically low blood sugar in a diabetic, a large weight gain in a patient with heart or kidney failure, and a fever in a person with a compromised immune system are all scenarios where a wearable that enables two-communication with a health professional would be a game changer. As clinicians, we are used to seeing patients with our own eyes and ears. We need to embrace wearables as our sixth sense when caring for complex patients.”

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Jenni Whalen

Jenni Whalen

    Jenni Whalen is the Executive Assistant of Editorial at Upworthy. She was previously MedTech Boston's Managing Editor and has an MS in Journalism from Boston University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Bucknell University. Whalen has written for Greatist, Boston magazine, AZ Central Healthy Living and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other places. She has also worked as a conference planner, ghost writer, researcher and content developer.

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