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Tag: collaborative healthcare

5 New and Upcoming Wearable Devices That May Improve Quality of Life

Did you know that wearable devices can predict an illness or identify atrial fibrillation before you have any symptoms? These devices have come a long way since the first-generation step counters. Aside from potentially saving your life and motivating you to conquer new fitness challenges, the wearable device market was valued at $61.3 billion in 2022 and is predicted to increase at a compound growth rate of 14.6 percent between 2023 and 2030. It’s big business, so manufacturers will continue innovating and adding technology.

Whether you are an athlete or just want to track your health metrics, there are a wide variety of wearable healthcare devices to choose from. Wearable devices can track your activities, heart rate, sleep, stress level, oxygen saturation, body temperature, calorie intake, body composition, and water intake. They can also track trends, providing valuable insight into your health and wellness.

Wearable device technology helps consumers be proactive in managing their health and bringing concerning data trends to their doctor’s attention earlier. Most wearable device manufacturers also have social networks that users can join to motivate each other to improve their health and fitness. 

Fitness Trackers

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are major health concerns for U.S. adults. Over 40% of U.S. adults now meet the qualifications for obesity, a chronic medical condition associated with about 200 other comorbid conditions. We know that diet and exercise are the two most important factors that can increase weight loss and improve overall health, but maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise is hard.

Wearable fitness trackers may help. According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, wearing fitness trackers, combined with other interventions like consultations with healthcare providers, can lead to increased physical activity, which can profoundly impact your health.1,2  Fitness trackers and the social networks associated with them can help provide motivation and hold you accountable as you set fitness goals for yourself.

Smart Health Watches

In the past, the fitness tracker and smartwatch categories were clearly defined. Fitness trackers focused on health and fitness, and smart watches extended your cell phone functionality. As technology has advanced, fitness trackers provide much of the same data as smartwatches, especially for monitoring your health.

Smartwatches track your fitness, sleep, stress, and sleep, just like fitness trackers, but many also offer EKG, heart rate, heart rate variability, stress, and body temperature tracking. You can also use your smartwatch to listen to music, answer texts, take phone calls, and watch workout videos and guided exercise programs. Smartwatches make it easy to fit in a 10-minute impromptu workout.

Smartwatches provide data that your doctor can use to gain more insight into your health habits and how they may affect your risk of chronic disease.

For example, atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm in the upper chambers of your heart. It is the most common heart rhythm disorder, affecting about 1% of the population. In some cases, atrial fibrillation does not cause symptoms, and the first sign of its presence is having a stroke. A smartwatch can help identify this abnormal rhythm so your doctor can evaluate your heart rhythm and suggest treatment options.

In the next few years, more sensors on smartwatches will be standard, as wearable technology is tested for its accuracy and consistency in monitoring and tracking patient health data.

Biosensors  

Biosensors are wearable devices that integrate sensors into or on the human body using tattoos, gloves, clothing, or implants. These wearable sensors collect data and display information via a phone app. The information can be transmitted to your doctor for monitoring and feedback.3

Biosensors can monitor motion states, biophysical states, or biochemical parameters. Motion sensors can monitor gait and send an alarm if the wearer falls. They can also detect seizures and tremors. Biophysical sensors track blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. Biochemical sensors track biological fluids.3

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are an example of a biochemical sensor. These devices were intended for people with diabetes to provide a less invasive way to continuously monitor their blood sugar. Now anyone can monitor their blood sugar using CGMs. Saliva, tears, breath, and sweat-based biosensors are expected to be available soon in this booming market.

Biosensors are expected to change the way healthcare is delivered. The two-way feedback these devices offer will augment the care provided during a remote doctor’s visit, providing consumers with the safest and most convenient healthcare option.

ECG Monitors   

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with coronary heart disease accounting for almost half of these deaths. Unfortunately, most heart attacks occur without warning. Wearable electrocardiogram monitors (ECG) can help patients monitor their heart rhythms from home. This can provide reassurance that any abnormalities may be detected earlier and provide a means of transmitting data to their heart doctor for evaluation.

Smartwatches and ECG monitors, telemedicine, and public awareness and lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors are expected to reduce heart disease in the future. Telemedicine provides a safe and convenient way to prevent heart attacks by providing lifestyle counseling, tracking medication adherence, refilling prescriptions, monitoring heart rhythm trends, and reducing comorbid diseases.

Blood Pressure Monitors

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it has no symptoms. People of all ages and body shapes and sizes can have high blood pressure. High blood pressure that is not treated is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Smartwatches and home blood pressure monitors can track blood pressure and provide alerts if your blood pressure is too high. Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, and it is classically much different in the doctor’s office than at home.

While blood pressure cuffs for home use have been around for a while, they are very difficult for most people to use correctly. It is hard to get the cuff in the right place and position your body correctly to get an accurate measurement. They are also bulky and uncomfortable.

Wearable blood pressure monitors make it easy to take blood pressure measurements anytime, even outside your home. They are simpler to use and easier to put the monitor level with your heart, a technique that usually gives the most accurate reading. Unfortunately, wearable blood pressure devices are new and do not yet have large-scale scientific studies to support their accuracy.

Use your wearable blood pressure monitor to track trends and calibrate it periodically with your blood pressure readings from doctor’s visits or medical-grade blood pressure monitoring devices in stores and pharmacies.

What Are the Benefits of Wearable Healthcare Devices?  

Wearable devices are expected to revolutionize healthcare. Remote patient monitoring is more economical and convenient than monitoring in a hospital setting. In 2019, 88% of healthcare providers surveyed had invested in or evaluated investing in remote patient monitoring technologies. Most healthcare providers surveyed encouraged their patients to monitor their health proactively. While remote patient monitoring is not an option in all cases and still faces some deployment challenges, it is likely to become more commonplace over the next decade.

More Insight for Doctors  

Wearable healthcare devices provide telehealth doctors with data that helps with medical decision-making. Patients bring their data and information about their symptoms and medical history. Doctors provide their knowledge, experience, and insight. Together, they engage in a shared decision-making process that empowers patients to take charge of their medical care. The telehealth environment makes it easier for patients to access specialists and for doctors to share information. Interprofessional collaboration improves mental and physical health outcomes.

Easier Diagnosing

Remote doctors have some disadvantages. They don’t have access to the patient in the same physical space as they are. They can’t take blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and body weight measurements and cannot physically examine the patient. In cases where a physical exam would impact medical decision-making, an in-person appointment is the only option. For example, if your doctor suspects appendicitis, you will need an abdominal exam and further testing.

Wearable devices overcome the other obstacle when consulting with a web doctor. They provide the measurements an online doctor needs to rule out or support an online diagnosis. If, after making a diagnosis, your online doctor believes you need a prescription medication to treat your condition, it is easy to get a prescription online.

Wearable devices provide online doctors with data they can use to make a diagnosis. Is it time for you to move your doctor’s appointment online?

Better Patient Adherence 

Feedback from wearable devices can be motivating. Having data on hand and tracking it helps healthcare providers monitor whether patients are adhering to their treatment recommendations. This transparency will lead to better long-term health outcomes.  

References

  1. Hodkinson A, Kontopantelis E, Adeniji C, et al. Interventions Using Wearable Physical Activity Trackers Among Adults With Cardiometabolic Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(7):e2116382. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.16382
  2. Cheatham SW, Stull KR, Fantigrassi M, Motel I. The efficacy of wearable activity tracking technology as part of a weight loss program: a systematic review. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018 Apr;58(4):534-548. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07437-0. Epub 2017 May 9. PMID: 28488834.
  3. Sharma A, Badea M, Tiwari S, Marty JL. Wearable Biosensors: An Alternative and Practical Approach in Healthcare and Disease Monitoring. Molecules. 2021 Feb 1;26(3):748. doi: 10.3390/molecules26030748. PMID: 33535493; PMCID: PMC7867046.

How Interprofessional Collaboration Improves Mental and Physical Health Outcomes

The human body is complex. Researchers have made huge strides toward a better understanding of health and disease. Between 45 and 60 new drugs are approved each year.1 To use this huge amount of potentially life-saving information, patients and their doctors need to be able to talk to specialists and other members of a healthcare team. Technology advancements provide doctors and other healthcare providers with cognitive aids to help manage this information, and telehealth has made it easier for patients to access doctors on call and for doctors to collaborate online to provide optimal patient care. 

Interprofessional collaboration is defined as “when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, carers (caregivers), and communities to deliver the highest quality of care.”2

Interprofessional collaboration:

  • Reduces the risk of medical errors
  • Lowers healthcare costs and improves resource access and allocation
  • Improves patient outcomes
  • Increases patient satisfaction with care
  • Increases access to healthcare interventions

Telehealth and telemedicine were rapidly adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but since they offer so many potential patient benefits and support interprofessional collaboration, you can expect they will become the standard of care in many care settings.3

Reduced Risk of Errors 

Medical errors are a serious concern. Johns Hopkins patient safety experts report that over 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are due to medical errors, making them the third leading cause of death.4  

The risk of medical errors is increased when:5

  • Medical providers practice outside their scope of expertise.
  • There are communication gaps.
  • There are deficiencies in education and training.
  • Healthcare providers are overworked or poorly supervised

Telemedicine opens access to specialists, increasing the probability that patients can consult with specialists who provide the most accurate online diagnosis. After receiving a diagnosis, patients can also get their prescriptions filled online. 

When using a pharmacy to fill an online prescription, check to ensure the pharmacy is licensed through their state board of pharmacy and that it has a U.S. address. This will help protect you from pharmacies that are not safe. Prescriptions are always needed at legal, licensed pharmacies, and there is always a licensed pharmacist on staff. 6 

Telemedicine promotes continuity of care, encourages people to take an active role in managing their healthcare, and improves overall clinical outcomes.7

Lower Costs 

Telemedicine can also reduce costs. Transportation and childcare costs, as well as time off work, all contribute to the cost of any office visit.8 While every online doctor and urgent care center may have different pricing structures, the cost of an online appointment is generally lower than an in-person visit. 

Researchers found that the average cost of a telehealth visit was $79 in a 2017 study. The average cost of an in-person doctor’s visit was $146, and an emergency room visit was $1,734. There was lower spending in all aspects of an online visit, including pharmacy, imaging, and testing.9  Having said that, buyers should always exercise caution. Some online healthcare providers advertise their services as free, but there are hidden costs that can accumulate quickly.

Interprofessional collaboration can cut healthcare costs even more because it makes it easy for providers to share information and helps patients get in touch with the specialists who are best suited to help with their health problems instead of visiting multiple healthcare providers while trying to get an answer.

Better Quality Care  

Collaboration between healthcare professionals can lead to better patient care. While this seems obvious, it is a hard practice to implement in busy healthcare offices. Telehealth provides easy access to tools that improve communication, making it much easier for healthcare professionals to consult with specialists and develop a comprehensive patient care plan.

Telemedicine clinics also improve access by providing extended patient care hours. Patients do not need to wait through the weekend or until the next available appointment to get the care they need. Many telemedicine clinics are “open” 24 hours a day.

Faster Recovery Times 

To illustrate how collaborative care can improve recovery times, consider the case of a 67-year-old woman, let’s call her Emma, preparing for knee replacement surgery.

Emmas has type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Her surgeon suggests that she meet with the following members of the healthcare team:

  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation specialists to learn how to improve her overall body strength. 
  • Dieticians to develop a nutritious diet that meets her needs and preferences and might help her lose 5% of her body weight.
  • Psychologist to help her mentally prepare for surgery.10
  • Endocrinologist to maximize her blood sugar control.
  • Cardiologist to check her cardiovascular status and clear her for anesthesia. 
  • Home care nurses to discuss care after surgery. 

Using input from all members of her collaborative care team, Emma can confidently prepare for her surgery with less stress and in better health. 

Better Mental Health Care 

In many areas of the country, a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists makes it challenging for patients to get the mental health services they need. In some cases, patients are treated by primary care physicians outside of their scope of training or do not receive care. Only 10% of patients will follow up on a referral to a mental health professional unless they are easily accessible and in the same location as their primary care provider.11 

Increased access to psychologists and psychologists online can reduce costs, decrease the load on primary care physicians, and deliver mental health services in a setting that is comfortable and convenient for patients.12

More Access to Information 

Online tools make it easier to keep track of patient health data and trends, which can help reduce the risk of relapses and hospital stays. Technology can alert doctors about changes in vital signs that may indicate a worsening chronic health issue. Technology also makes it easier to provide quality patient education, empowering patients to better manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.13 

Online communications channels, such as chat and email, make it easier for physicians and other healthcare professionals to communicate this data to their patients and for patients to have their online concerns addressed. 

Interprofessional collaboration improves mental and physical health outcomes. Telemedicine makes it much easier to bring together a diverse healthcare team that can address all of a patient’s concerns and comprehensively provide routine, preventative, and emergent healthcare. 

References

  1. CDER drug approvals U.S. 2008-2022. Statista. Accessed January 26, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/817534/annual-novel-drug-approvals-by-cder/
  2. World Health Organization. Framework for action on interprofessional education & collaborative practice. Geneva: World Health Organization. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/70185/1/WHO_HRH_HPN_10.3_eng.pdf. Published 2010. 
  3. Reimagining the Future of Telemedicine in a Post-COVID World. (n.d.). Arizona.Edu. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://telemedicine.arizona.edu/blog/reimagining-future-telemedicine-post-covid-world
  4. Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. – 05/03/2016. Hopkinsmedicine.org. Accessed January 26, 2023. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/study_suggests_medical_errors_now_third_leading_cause_of_death_in_the_us
  5. Rodziewicz TL, Houseman B, Hipskind JE. Medical Error Reduction and Prevention. 2022 Dec 4. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 29763131.
  6. Center for Drug Evaluation, & Research. (2022, October 26). Internet Pharmacy Warning Letters. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-supply-chain-integrity/internet-pharmacy-warning-letters
  7. Agboola S, Kvedar J. (2016). Telemedicine and patient safety. Accessed January 26, 2023. https://psnet.ahrq.gov/perspective/telemedicine-and-patient-safety
  8. Mehrotra A , Liu H , Adams JL , Wang MC , Lave JR , Thygeson NM , et al. Comparing costs and quality of care at retail clinics with that of other medical settings for 3 common illnesses . Ann Intern Med . 2009 ; 151 ( 5 ): 321 – 8 .
  9. Ashwood JS, Mehrotra A, Cowling A, and Uscher-Pines L. (2017). Direct-To-Consumer Telehealth May Increase Access To Care But Does Not Decrease Spending. Health Affairs 36:3, 485-491
  10. Powell R, Scott NW, Manyande A, Bruce J, Vögele C, Byrne-Davis LM, Unsworth M, Osmer C, Johnston M. Psychological preparation and postoperative outcomes for adults undergoing surgery under general anaesthesia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 May 26;2016(5):CD008646. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008646.pub2. PMID: 27228096; PMCID: PMC8687603.
  11. Collins, C., Hewson, D. L., Munger, R., & Wade, T. (2010). Evolving models of behavioral health integration in primary care. NewYork, NY: Milbank Memorial Fund.
  1. APA.org. (2014). Briefing series on the role of psychology in health care. Accessed January 26, 2023. https://www.apa.org/health/briefs/primary-care.pdf
  2. HRS Marketing. 5 Ways to Improve Patient Outcomes with Telehealth. Healthrecoverysolutions.com. Published December 13, 2021. Accessed January 26, 2023. https://www.healthrecoverysolutions.com/blog/5-ways-to-improve-patient-outcomes-with-telehealth

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