Wearables Focus on Tracking Your Health

In a post on Multiple Sclerosis News Today, blogger Ed Tobias wrote, “I never thought I’d want a wearable internet device until I got an Apple Watch for my birthday.” Among its benefits are apps that track the laps he swims, the steps he takes, and his pulse rate. Not only that, but it can communicate with high-tech exercise equipment to monitor gym progress.

Tobias also wrote that the newest Apple Watch, the Series 4, also comes with a new feature that MS sufferers might find particularly useful—an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” alert. The watch has a gyroscope and an accelerometer that it uses to analyze falling speed and the angle at which the fall happens; this helps the watch to determine if a person has taken a hard fall or whether they’ve just stumbled. If the watch’s owner has taken a severe fall, the watch provides options to help the wearer contact emergency services and family members. The Apple Watch also tracks the wearer’s heart rate and rhythm like an EKG does.

But there’s more to the wearable trend than fashion or convenience. Clinical trials are starting to use wearable devices as well, and digital health is really starting to catch on. A survey from Rock Health, which surveyed about 4,000 adults in the U.S., shows that 87 percent of them are using a digital health tool, whether that’s a wearable, a phone app, or a computer, in connection with some sort of health goal.

Rock Health’s website says the company believes that “the purpose of healthcare innovation is to deliver value to patients,” and one way to do this is empowering patients to “manage their health through increasingly self-directed digital offerings.”

However, the study also showed that people stopped using wearables because either it wasn’t effective or they didn’t like its look or feel. Some of them may also suffer from accuracy issues.

A more significant concern, according to Rock Health’s study, is privacy. “Though most respondents are willing to share health data with their physician (86%), there are significant drop-offs in willingness to share with other stakeholders. For example, 58% are willing to share with health insurance companies and 52% with pharmacies.” The study also reported that the willingness to share health data drops rapidly when people are asked about sharing data with researchers, pharmaceutical companies, or the government.

“As we learn of more data breaches every year, I think it’s going to take a lot of work to maintain a high level of public confidence in the concept of sharing health information,” Tobias concluded. “But I’ll continue to use mine…let’s hope I won’t need the watch that has the falling alert.”

Read the full article here.