Real-time digital doctor checkups may soon become a reality

As recently discussed on Bits & Pieces, the wearable market continues to be driven by sports and healthcare functionalities. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco have supported that claim by laying out a plan as to how the market can grow even further.

Close up white smart watch with health app icon on the screen

UC-San Francisco envisions the next wave of wearables to possess “advanced biosensors that can collect new data, teach us what data is most valuable – and maybe even change the way we practice medicine.”

These new sensors could be as tiny as an earbud or patch on the skin, and collect a pool of data that would track things previously only able to be studied within a hospital. Dr. Michael Blum, Director of the UCSF Center for Digital Health Innovation believes, “We need to get to a world where individuals are using digital health devices to collect accurate, detailed data about themselves and that data is available for clinical trials as well as to their clinicians for helping them maintain wellness or managing disease.”

Dr. Blum goes on to note that if these precise and individualized wearables are researched and adopted, the healthcare community could gain “access to these large, rich data sources, [where] we will likely see new patterns and relationships that will lead to the development of new, non-traditional ‘vital signs.’”

As we previously shared, heartbeat monitors and pedometers make up for much of the health related wearable market today with over 12 million units shipped in 2013. Advances in wearable health technology would allow a patient to remain monitored by a professional once they are discharged from a hospital after an ICU visit or even a serious surgery.

UCSF shared five examples of technology they believe could transform the realm of modern-day healthcare.

The Simband


With its ability to measure blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation and body temperature, this wearable device could prove invaluable for those in clinical trials or in need of constant monitoring.

Home Sleep Studies


Much of the hesitancy for patients to undergo sleep studies is the fact that they have to spend the night in a hospital hooked up to a series of wires and machines. Thanks to new high-tech biosensors, doctors will be able to monitor a patient’s sleep patterns from home and send the data directly to their physician.

The Modern Day Life Alert


“Help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” We’ve all seen the melodramatic TV commercials for devices that allow elderly relatives to notify loved ones and emergency personnel if things go awry. With updated biosensor technology, new gadgets will alert caregivers if there is limited movement, no access to the refrigerator, or even signs of illness.

Vital Connect


The Vital Connect patch allows irregular heartbeats to be monitored from a tiny patch. The data collected is then uploaded to a cloud database and can be analyzed by a healthcare professional.

Measuring Vitals With Tunes


New earbud technologies are utilizing photoplethysmography to monitor heart rate, temperature, and respiration rate; therefore, vital signs can be monitored while you listen to your favorite album or podcast.

With the wearable market increasingly permeating the healthcare community, the future seems to possess fewer doctors’ office visits and nearly uninterrupted monitoring for those in need. Certainly, the doctor-patient relationship will continue to flux, while wearables will be yet another influence on that relationship.

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