Characteristics of Wearables and IoT in the Medical Sector

There’s a significant shift happening around the world – not only are individuals becoming more aware of their health, they now have the knowledge and data to make positive changes in their lives that will improve their wellbeing and prevent future illness.


Typically, when people think of IoT and wearables, they think of fitness and activity trackers. Companies like Jawbone, Misfit, Garmin and Fitbit are a few of the companies that have taken full advantage of this fact by developing activity trackers and fitness bands.


Whereas activity trackers have been a huge hit in the consumer retail market, the professional health care market has not seen such a surge as the fitness industry has, even though both industries have similar drivers behind them.

Here are some of the factors that will be essential to successfully integrating wearable technology into the health care industry for groundbreaking medical technology.


The risk of medical innovation

The health care industry is notorious for squashing highly innovative ideas due to the risk of failure and highly negative implications of these failures. What happens if the new technology doesn’t work and it causes a fatal mistake?


This argument, although justifiable, is the reason why there haven’t been as many medical innovations as there could be. Typically, a medical startup will innovate ground breaking technology, and once proven, be bought out by a larger player in the market. They buy these companies either to use the new found innovations, or in some cases, they buy companies to destroy the technology since it competes against them (I know, very sinister).


If you want big players to join the fray of innovation, these technologies must pose extremely high value with relatively low risk, a daunting task in and of itself.


Make data meaningful

As wearable devices proliferate, a great deal of data will be generated. This opportunity must be managed with careful data analysis and algorithms in order to provide physicians with the right and meaningful information they need.


Regulations & privacy concerns

As technology advances come the need to deal with privacy and data security risks, especially when data starts being sent to a medical provider. Privacy policy needs to be robust enough to protect the data of individuals while still ensuring the data is sent securely to the appropriate medical parties.


In our most recent white paper on IoT use cases, we discuss one threat that exists to the future of IoT and the medical sector: large companies threatening startups and their innovative ideas. Regulations must be in place to promote growth in the medical sector and allow for competition without the threat of large players squashing innovation.


Make data available via a platform for doctors

Medical devices won’t really help doctors treat their patients until we figure out how to make all the data easy to access for them through their own medical apps. Having a platform that allows for the interoperability of multiple devices is increasingly important.


The Physicians Perspective

If patients don’t want to be bothered with a constant stream of data about themselves, imagine how doctors feel. A recent study showed that physicians typically have around 2,300 patients on record per year. Managing a steady stream of wearable device data for even a small fraction of those patients will be overwhelming. As a result, it is imperative that the wearable device be able to develop a trend for the user and ensure it has a smart algorithm to detect any change in this trend to alert the physician.


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