Advances in wearable technology are opening the door for a new generation of disease treatments that leverage remote monitoring and therapeutics delivered via devices worn on the body.
Wearable devices and sensors, also known as wearables, are a growing area of focus for healthcare organizations and technology companies alike.
In the past three months alone Amazon has released plans to distribute its new health tracking wristband to patients at Sharp HealthCare; Fitbit—awaiting regulatory approval for an acquisition by Google—earned Food and Drug Administration clearance for an electrocardiogram app; and Apple kicked off research using the Apple Watch to study asthma, heart failure and respiratory conditions.
The FDA, which for years has been working to develop new regulatory models for digital health separate from traditional medical devices, in September launched the Digital Health Center of Excellence to coordinate those efforts.
But as the technology offerings grow, hospitals and health systems are still figuring out the best way to integrate wearables into care delivery, if at all. “Wearable adoption for chronic care management, for continuous monitoring (and) for discharge … remains low,” at least before the pandemic began, said Arielle Trzcinski, a senior analyst at market research firm Forrester.
It’s yet to be seen whether increased remote monitoring practices adopted during the pandemic, such as using wearables, are sustained.