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Telemedicine Enhancing Health Wearables
JUN 29, 2015 17:50 PM
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Telemedicine Enhancing Health Wearables

While wearable health tech is still in its early days, its popularity is growing and the general public is beginning to understand the benefits. And this bodes well for the continued growth of telemedicine.
To wit, a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study, ‘Wearable Tech: Early Days,’ revealed that:
  • More than half the respondents think wearables could boost average life expectancy by 10 years because of the capability to monitor vital signs;
  • More than 40% see potential for nutrition/exercise monitoring to reduce obesity;
  • Two-thirds would wear a band if employers or insurance companies provided them for free and collected anonymous data from the device as an incentive to lower insurance premiums.

And a few other quick facts:
  • BBC Research and Towers Watson report that the global telemedicine market in 2016 will be about $27 billion, with virtual health services comprising about $16 billion of that amount;
  • Market research firm IDC predicts that by 2018, 65% of interactions with healthcare organizations will be done via mobile devices; and by 2018, 70% of them will have apps, offer wearables, and do remote health monitoring.
These wearable devices and new technologies are fast making a significant impact on our lives – “from interactive smart watches/wristbands and passive textiles that monitor everything from heart rate, caloric burn-rate, weight, sleep statistics and body temperature to more sophisticated smart patches, ingestibles, injectables and implants that monitor vital bodily organs and (in the near future) deliver medications,” noted Matt Herren, CEO of HerrenMedia, a global consulting firm.
Added Gary Shapiro, president/CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), “wearables will also help minimize our visits to the physician’s office, if the data collected from such trackers can be integrated with patients’ current medical records.  Much data is already tracked and captured related to our health and fitness habits; but that data is ‘trapped’ in these devices.”
And one challenge, noted Paul D’Alessandro, principal and customer experience leader of PWC’s Health Industries practice, is getting patients with multiple chronic health conditions to use a wearable device; turning the device data “into something actionable will move wearables from their early days into larger-scale adoption.”
As models of reimbursement and population health management (PHM) slowly supplant fee-for-service models, we’ll further see how with wearables, telemedicine is meeting the consumer.
Richard Chang, director of the Energy, Life Sciences and Healthcare (ELH) vertical for Information Services Group (ISG), a technology insights, market intelligence, and advisory services company, noted that if a patient is under the care of a physician and a member associated with an Accountable Care Organization, the more data gathered about the patient, the better.
“Via big data analytics, payers and providers will be able to communicate and administer care much more proactively, leading to a healthier community, with fewer hospital admissions,” said Chang.
The interoperability walls are starting to come down as we accelerate towards a digital health revolution.  Over the next five years, noted Chang, medical devices and telemedicine apps monitoring patients in real-time will be commonplace.
And a final caveat from Chang:
“Healthcare companies that can leverage these technologies, protect consumer data and patient privacy, and deliver effective care management will thrive; those that don’t will succumb to market pressures and perish.”
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