Wearables Driving the Future of Precision Medicine

Wearables Driving the Future of Precision Medicine

Healthcare Tech Outlook | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

With their potential to track health continuously outside care facilities, wearables hold a significant potential to improve current precision medicine initiatives.

FREMONT, CA: Wearable devices have come a long way from being just entertaining to bringing in tangible health benefits. Previously, wearables with basic functionality were appreciated by fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes. But today, the capabilities of wearables emerged way beyond counting steps are taken and calories burnt. Next generations of smart wearables expanded their data collection and analytical abilities toward overall health awareness. They start identifying patterns related to the user’s mood, sleep quality and other vitals. Today, wearables are instead marketed as personal devices for people who is interested in making more informed choices about their health.

This trend of personalized health tracking fell in line with the value-based care paradigm and its stress on precision medicine. The present healthcare industry aspires to leverage wearables as a primary data source to develop highly personal and flexible patient treatment plans, enabling the introduction of timely therapy modifications based on slight alterations in health patterns. Additionally, wearables can also help to promote patients’ responsibility toward their care routines and encourage informed patient-physician communication. Smart wearable manufacturers and medical-grade software vendors also depend on custom software solutions suitable for clinical use. While researchers and decision-makers can benefit from wearables to support their efforts, it all comes down to two major groups of sensors collecting particular biological signs.

Physiological sensors measure the biological signs with electrical, thermal, acoustic and optical components. It monitors bodily functions like the gut and respiratory activity, vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, blood oxygen saturation levels and more.  Both consumer-facing and ambulatory-use wearables allow numerous biological tracking options. Some include, smartwatches with the ability to generate ECG, identify falls and abnormal heart rhythms, patch sensors for prenatal contraction monitoring, abdominal patch analyzing gastrointestinal motility and facilitating diagnostics of digestive disorders, and fertility tracker with heart rate, temperature and stress level monitoring capabilities.

Being more aware of their wellness and biological signals, patients can start actively engaging in the dialogue about their therapy. They can consider their possible health outcomes in the long run, and realize that both their opinion and actions matter.

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