The popularity of wearable health devices, including smartwatches and other gadgets, is skyrocketing as people strive to make healthy choices and build more sustainable health habits. A whopping 173 million smartwatches shipped worldwide in 2022, and that number is expected to grow to a quarter of a billion by 2025. While smart devices have many user-friendly features, their usefulness as health-monitoring tools is catching the attention of providers and patients alike.
Here are four ways wearable health devices can empower both patients and providers in improving health outcomes.
Easy and convenient
Wearable health devices are often seen as more convenient than larger, clunkier health instruments: They’re small, easy to use and can even be quite stylish. Although they don’t completely replace traditional forms of monitoring, they can certainly provide wearers with more ease than a stopwatch to calculate heart rate or an arm cuff to determine blood pressure. Anytime, anywhere, patients can simply strap on an unobtrusive watch or other device and let it do the calculations for them. Many of these devices can be worn during sleep are water-resistant, meaning they don’t have to be taken off for exercise. Most are rechargeable so patients don’t have to worry about replacing batteries.
Encourage patients to track important metrics on their smartphones with healthcare giveaways, like a smartphone pocket with strap or running belt to hold devices. Or by strapping on a pedometer to count steps.
Automatic and remote monitoring
Another benefit of a wearable device is that they generally don’t have to be switched on or off, eliminating the need for patients to remember to begin tracking their vital signs at the beginning of each day. Whenever a patient goes for a run, walks up a flight of steps or takes a nap, their device captures that data without the patient sparing a second thought.
Additionally, many smart devices automatically upload captured data to an app or website that can be shared with providers. This gives up-to-the-minute data that healthcare professionals can use to make informed decisions about a patient’s care.
Long-term health data
Because most patients wear their devices daily, they can capture a person’s biometrics—stats like heart rate, breathing and exercise habits—consistently over a long period of time, including when the patient feels healthy. Providers can then use this data as a baseline, making it easier to detect numbers that are atypical. This may aid in the early detection of illness or disease, all without the patient having to do anything outside their normal routine.
Encourage patients to begin tracking their data with healthcare giveaways, like a waterproof phone pouch or pedometer watch.
Sometimes a little motivation is all it takes to keep a patient on track with healthy behaviours. Some wearable devices provide instant coaching in the form of updates and reminders, many with positive affirmations and messages to inspire patients. For example, some smartwatches send reminders to get recommended steps in, drink water or monitor their breathing rate. Some devices can be paired with habit-tracking apps that let patients plan their meals, track nutrition macros or log exercise sessions. All these feedback tools can be helpful for patients who enjoy having an accountability partner along their health journey.
Taking positive steps with wearable health devices
Wearable health devices are convenient tools that can automatically provide both patients and providers with long-term health data and instant feedback, without having to change the patient’s daily routine. That’s a step in a healthy direction.