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Clinical Systems Leadership

How Wearable Tech is Being Used in Health Care

Jan - W1T2

Google Glass and other wearable technology devices that are emerging and evolving could have strong implications for health care going forward. Learning how to incorporate wearable technology either for monitoring or as part of installing a new health regimen with a patient may even become part of a Master of Science in Nursing program in the future.

How wearable devices are already making a mark in health care
While much of the health care community is waiting for a wearable device to come out that can help patients, engineers and inventors are busy at work trying to create that transformative program or device. A San Francisco-based health care startup, Augmedix, recently received $16 million from venture capitalists for its Google Glass product.

The company, which now has $23 million in funding and 100 employees, was started by Stanford University graduates Ian Shakil and Pelu Tran, Heathcare IT News reported. The startup’s main goal is to use Google Glass for clinicians in the exam room. The product will allow doctors to use the wearable devices to record important electronic health record data without typing during an examination. This helps medical professionals retain the data they need while maximizing quality time with a patient, the news source explained.

Some hospitals already use wearable devices for data collections, such as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, according to Heathcare IT News. And several companies are working to make the process easier.

Problems with wearable technology in health care
While some hospitals and businesses have begun using wearable devices in health care, the practice is still rare and many have declared it a failure. Although, as HIT Consultant explained, there are a number of barriers to its success.

As with many aspects of health care technology, one of the biggest concerns is security, privacy and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIT Consultant explained that not only does the wearable device have to comply with these strict regulations but the software it transmits the information to must as well.

Further barriers to the successful integration of Google Glass and other wearable technology in health care include compatibility with existing software and electronic health records, the expense of devices and infrastructure issues with networks, the news source explained.

The final barrier may be one of the biggest: culture. Medical professionals can be resistant to change or learning a new device for fears that it will hold many of the problems that EHRs did when they were first introduced. Although a good idea in theory, EHRs were expensive, prone to issues and often added hours to a nurse or doctor’s day rather than saving time.

Areas of potential for wearable technology in health care
Despite these barriers to success, many are still hopeful for the adoption of devices such as Google Glass in a clinical setting. The fact is that there are many areas that could benefit from the technology.

The director of Connected Intelligence at research firm NPD Group, Weston Henderek, told Tech Times that he sees wearable devices continuing their success in the fitness and health sectors and moving more into health care through whole body health.

“Things that will be prominent for mainstream consumers will be sleep tracking and measuring breathing, as a way to help alleviate stress,” he told the tech news site. “I also expect that the existing fitness activity tracker products will look to put more of a focus on a holistic fitness regime, where the devices are giving deeper reminders to consumers around how to make subtle shifts to their activity levels during the day.”

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