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Wearable Technology and Its Impact on Medical Care

Hillary Cyril

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Medical Wearable

Wearable technology identifies a variety of new and emerging technologies that influence the way we dress and our style. They are wristbands, jewelry, armbands, headbands, necklaces, bandannas, belly bands, badges, t-shirts, sweaters, bandannas, bandanas, sweatbands, badges, headbands, earrings, watches, handbags, wristbands, necklaces, neck chains, bracelets, and tie tacks. Wristbands and other wearables may be made from any material – plastic, cloth, leather, metal, polyester, rubber, or more. The materials used are varied but they all have the same intention and that is to hold items such as keys, ID badges, passports, money, cell phones, and much more.

Wearable technology has evolved from wristbands to armbands, fingerboards, Fitbits, watches, and more. These electronic devices are designed to capture body heat and moisture to enable temperature control and provide the wearer with maximum comfort. There are several types of wearable healthcare technology including pulse oximeter (a small handheld device that measures blood oxygen saturation), Laptop or Desktop Computer Bracelet (designed to be worn on one arm), bandannas (bandanas are stretchable cloth strips worn around the head and neck), sweatbands (which can be used to track body temperature), earrings, ear wires, toe clips, fingers, footpads, fingernails, face shields, corrective lenses, diabetic medical alert devices, diabetic pumps, and baby monitors.

Current trends in the wearables market include developing smarter and more interactive applications for wearables such as smart-wear, i-wearables, virtual reality wearables, and much more. Wearable technology has been transforming our daily lives and changing the way we interact with each other and the world around us. This has been reflected in the increasing popularity of wearables such as phones, laptops, iPods, mobile phones, wristwatches, MP3 players, game consoles, cameras and video recorders, watches, exercise and fitness equipment, fitness monitors, activity and health tracking devices, communication tools such as Bluetooth headsets, LCD panels, touch screens, keyboards, microphones and cameras, digital photo frames, camera phones, handheld computers and tablet PCs, camcorders, television, wireless internet access points and video conferencing.

Gadget

As these devices continue to evolve into a more comprehensive set of products, the healthcare industry will continue to benefit from the increased efficiency of conducting business, the reduction of time spent on routine tasks, and the increase in employee productivity. However, there is still room for additional improvements in the future. The medical community must continue to research and develop new ways to use wearable technology to enhance patient care and to further reduce hospital workloads and improve healthcare quality and satisfaction.

As technology improves the accuracy of measurements such as blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, and blood oxygen saturation, more healthcare organizations are likely to adopt similar, though higher quality, wearables to increase efficiency and reduce medical errors and costly mistakes such as misdiagnosis and injury. There are already numerous examples of healthcare organizations adopting real-time GPS (Global Positioning System) technology into their existing workforce. For example, the British Armed Forces have adopted sophisticated GPS wearable technology which enables their servicemen to quickly locate any of hundreds of military bases across the world within seconds.

Although this technology has the potential to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of healthcare operations, healthcare organizations may still find some obstacles when implementing new wearable devices. Hospitals, for example, will need to consider the compatibility of the new devices with existing software and hardware systems and the cost of acquiring and retrofitting these devices into their existing workplace. Another consideration is whether healthcare organizations are capable of designing and deploying these new devices in an effective manner. Only if these issues can be resolved, will the adoption of wearable technology across the board and across various healthcare settings be successful.

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