Jumping into 2020, it’s important to evaluate the changes and progress the healthcare industry has made over the last 10 – 20 years thanks to various advancements in technology. State and national regulations have also been implemented to ensure patient data is protected and secure in the wake of this new digital environment. In addition to the introduction of HIPAA in 1996, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 was designed to address the privacy and security concerns associated with the electronic transmission of health information.
Beyond electronic medical record (EMR) systems and the convenience of sending your clinic a text message to schedule your next appointment lies the realm of wearable technology. For more than five years, wearable healthcare technology has become much more prevalent. As reported by Accenture, US consumers’ use of wearables jumped from 9% in 2014 to 33% in 2018. And, what’s more, research from Business Insider Intelligence found that more than 80% of consumers are now willing to wear fitness technology. This willingness to try wearable technology has resulted in improved care and an enhanced experience for patients as they become more engaged in their personal health outcomes.
More Than Just Activity Tracking
Over the last several years, wearable technology has impacted the way that doctors and patients communicate. Wearables make it easier for doctors to digitally monitor patient health in real time without having to see the patient. Though wearable tech in the healthcare space technically can span back to the earliest days of doctors wearing pagers, the modern era of wearable technology began just in the last ten years.
From the launch of the first Fitbit and Apple Watch over five years ago, wearable devices that track fitness and activity have become extremely popular with consumers. Although wearable devices have risen in popularity – for the appeal of tracking physical activity and inspiring an overall push for wellness – today’s wearable tech capabilities extend far past simply tracking activity. For example, some devices include robust capabilities for analytics on certain health conditions, such as blood pressure monitors or biosensors, which are just two examples of how wearable technology is directly improving patient care and, in some cases, saving lives.
Predict & Prevent
The initial popularity of wearable technology grew due to its convenience, such as reading a text message while in a meeting or tracking the number of steps you have walked for the day. However, as exemplified above, this technology has advanced the way that patients receive health care today. Perhaps the most significant benefit of today’s newest wearable technology is its ability to provide insight to patients about unknown or undetected medical conditions – specifically those for heart health. Because wearable devices constantly collect data on the person that is wearing it, this data can be put to predictive and preventative use.
Last year Apple released its Series 4 Apple Watch, which is equipped with the ability to take an electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) upon a detected spike in heart rate. As an example, a patient wearing an Apple Watch might only become aware of their undiagnosed atrial fibrillation symptoms because of an alert from their watch after it performs an EKG due to an abnormal heart rate. Based on the alert from the wearable device, the patient is then able to make a same-day appointment with their provider to address the symptoms and determine if they are life-threatening. Today’s wearable devices (and the devices of the future) hold the power to help alert patients to early signs of certain medical conditions, possibly stopping preventable healthcare events and ultimately lowering the cost of care.
Revation and Wearable Technology
At Revation, we see a direct link between our cloud-based multimedia contact center solution, LinkLive, and the benefits wearable technology is providing the industry today. For example: North Memorial Health, located in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, was looking to be a leading care organization with the ability to communicate with patients in a way that was convenient and easy for them. That’s why North Memorial Health implemented LinkLive in June of 2015 to enable their patients to text or web chat in order to schedule appointments.
With the evolution of wearable technology, patients’ can now receive these appointment reminders directly to their wearable devices. As a result, Revation’s text/chat scheduling platform paired with wearable devices also enables North Memorial’s patients to receive immediate notifications about their upcoming appointment. One of the benefits of a text scheduling option on a wearable device is that patients can effortlessly communicate with a triage nurse acting as a call center agent the moment they decide they need to see their primary doctor – potentially eliminating delays in important check-ups and maintenance visits due to a heightened ease of use. And as we move forward into the next decade of healthcare, wearable technology will only continue to advance and create new opportunities to better patient care outcomes and their experience overall.