It’s time for health wearables to have a senior moment

With seniors utilizing wearables, we’ll be able to track their heart rate, monitor their activity levels, and send them alerts to take medicine, allowing for more proactive care.

The healthcare industry is experiencing change faster than any other, and global healthcare spending is expected to reach $8.7 trillion by 2020. While many trends have come and gone with the advancement of technology, one that is bound to take off and continue growing is the use of wearable technology in the healthcare system. Between 2006 and 2013, well-known companies introduced their version of wearable technology, with Nike+, FitBit, and Google glass. In 2014, dubbed ‘the year of wearable technology’ by many, the iconic Apple watch made its first industry appearance.

Since then, the trend has continued to expand and is predicted to exceed 305 million units in 2020 alone, with an annual growth rate of 55%. While prominent companies, mainly in the fitness industry, are introducing their version of a wearable device, the healthcare industry has also tapped into the power of wearables. In fact, a recent study states that wearable technology in healthcare is expected to reach $12.1 billion by 2021. It’s clear that wearable technology is reaching all industries, including healthcare — but to take it one step further, how is this trend specifically impacting seniors?

Utilizing data

No matter the industry, data is going to play a huge role in how we track daily trends, conduct our daily work, and even communicate. When it comes to seniors utilizing wearables, we’ll be able to track their heart rate, monitor their activity levels, and send them alerts to take medicine, allowing for more proactive care from caregivers rather than reactive care after a situation already happens.

For example, data can indicate when a senior is at risk for urinary tract infections (UTI), which are a common risk for seniors. These often occur after a 72-hour period when walking becomes increasingly painful and trips to the bathroom increase over the timeframe. Through a wearable device, caregivers can track this data and anticipate a UTI more quickly due to these trends. Additionally, through analysis of activity data, caregivers can track the potential of a senior falling, and proactively take necessary actions to avoid the fall. In turn, caregivers and families can familiarize themselves with these trends to anticipate a fall in the future, too.

For care facilities, data also means understanding larger population trends among the community—population health management. This gives caregivers the ability to pinpoint common problems and proactively create an environment that lowers risks. If multiple seniors have similar data points that signal an illness or bacteria, caregivers can quickly recognize this and take preventive action throughout the community. Whether at home or in an assisted living facility, seniors utilizing wearables allows for families, caregivers, and doctors to track daily habits and trends, and get ahead of the game should something negative occur.

Due to better medical care and people living longer, the number of consumers aged over 65 has increased to more than 656 million, or 11.5% of the population. What’s more, Accenture data shows that 17% of Americans over the 65 use wearables to track fitness or vitals such as blood pressure or heart rate, compared to 20% of Americans under the age of 65. The data builds upon the fact that more seniors are turning to wearables to have more control of their daily habits.

By John Valiton | DigitalCommerce360

Image Credit: John Valiton / DigitalCommerce360

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About Peter Coffaro 538 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. As a District Sales Manager for Stryker Orthopaedics, Peter was responsible for managing and directing a regional sales force to achieve sales and profit goals within the Rocky Mountain region. Previously, he was the Director of Sales & Marketing for Amp Orthopedics. In this role, Peter was responsible for planning, developing, and leading all sales and marketing initiatives. Peter is a former orthopedic distributor in the Pacific Northwest. He has also worked with DePuy Orthopaedics as well as Zimmer, and held positions in sales, sales training, and sales management. Peter has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, negotiating and P&L management. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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