Earlier this summer at Apple's
Worldwide Developers Conference, the company announced a new
Health app and service, dubbed HealthKit, which will come as part
of the iOS8 operating system. Although this is Apple's first
venture into fitness tracking, it shouldn't have come as a
surprise. As more and more entities get into the wearable
technology game, it's only a matter of time before we see a real
impact stemming from these devices--especially when it comes to
health and health outcomes.
This past May, medical technology review
firm, Software Advice, outlined its
four predictions for doctors' offices in 2024, and not
surprisingly, reliance on wearable technology topped their list.
Devices that track steps taken, heart rate, calories burned (and in
some cases, consumed) have been around for a few years now, with
fitness junkies and couch potatoes alike joining the bandwagon. But
how does this translate into what really matters? How does all of
this information we're individually tracking on our arms or in our
phones get to the doctor who can read it, understand it, and help
us make informed decisions about our health? According to
Profitable Practice's report, "wearable technology could alert the
doctor whenever the patient [is] having issues or complications, as
opposed to the patient ignoring the warning signs and waiting until
their condition was severe to visit the doctor."
Of course, a lot still needs to happen in terms of technologies
talking to each other, not to mention leveraging such technologies
as part of your care plan with your doctor. But that should be the
ultimate goal. Although it's great that you know this information
about your body, having your doctor know it is just one step closer
to improved overall health.
Profitable Practice's predictions take that a step further and
assert that wearable technology could help reduce waiting times for
doctor's appointments and could possibly phase out waiting rooms
altogether. If wearable technology can give doctors most of the
background information they need on a patient, then time spent
collecting that information could be greatly reduced, thus
expediting the whole doctor's office experience for many
And getting rid of waiting rooms is just one step away from
getting rid of doctor's appointment--at least those conducted in
the physical sense.
Telemedicine continues to grow in popularity, as the idea of
connecting online with a doctor for routine care is often more
convenient and appealing than attending a visit in an office.
According to Profitable Practice, by 2024, up to 33 percent of
doctor's office visits could actually be occurring virtually.
The fourth prediction from Profitable Practice contends that
patients will increasingly control their medical charts--something
that most patients have a desire to do. "In the future, patients
and doctors could satisfy this demand by charting their visits
together," says Dr.
Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician and blogger.
Is this what we can expect 10 years from now? It's hard to say.
With advancements in technology happening so fast, it's likely that
"the next big thing" hasn't been--but will be--invented during this
time. But it's pretty clear that more transparency, better
communication, and increased patient control over health
information is trending hard, and those of us in the industry would
do well to keep a pulse on these trends.