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Tag: wearable devices

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 To Succeed Professionally With a Chronic Health Condition

A full-time job can be demanding, even more so if you have a chronic health condition. Nearly half of all American adults have a chronic health condition, which is defined as a physical or mental condition that lasts more than a year, causes some restrictions in their ability to function, or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment.1

Medical visits, hospitalizations, and illness flare-ups all add up in terms of lost income and time off work. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 75% of all healthcare spending in the U.S. goes toward treating chronic diseases. This translates to an estimated $5,300 per person per year.

When you have a full-time job and a chronic medical condition, you have to balance the needs of your job with the needs of your health. Working too much can worsen your chronic disease, but taking too much time off can affect your employability. This is especially true for people who have less-visible chronic health conditions. However, there are several steps you can take to foster professional success while protecting your health.

Make Time for Self-care

Self-care takes time, but the adage is true: You cannot care for other people if you don’t take care of yourself. Self-care is an essential part of managing your chronic disease. Time spent caring for yourself will result in less time off work and being better prepared to achieve high job performance levels.

Self-care components include:2

  • Nutrition: buying, preparing, and consuming a nutritious, whole-food diet. Avoid processed foods and consume healthy sources of protein and fat.
  • Stress management: making time for hobbies, exercise, and activities you enjoy to reduce stress.
  • Social habits: spending time with family and loved ones reduces stress and improves your quality of life.
  • Sleep: practice good sleep hygiene and get 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night.
  • Exercise: depending on your health condition, aim for 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
  • Set goals: set personal and work-related goals and track your progress toward achieving them.
  • Build a team: health professionals, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, physical therapists, friends, neighbors, and relatives are all potential team members to help support your efforts to manage your chronic disease.
  • Healthcare: keep your appointments, get lab work done, and take all prescribed medications. Take care of your mental and emotional health as well.

Taking time for self-care and balancing home life, work needs, and your health can be even more challenging if you have your own business. Read 6 science-backed self-care tips for entrepreneurs to learn how to better manage work, family, and health demands.

Work Remotely When You Can 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work was uncommon and hard to get. Necessity is the mother of invention. Employers in all sectors showed that remote work is possible in more ways than anyone could have imagined. Working remotely frees you from demands that may drain your energy.

Commuting can be a challenge for anyone, especially people with mobility issues. Remote work opens more career possibilities for people with disabilities, allowing them to work in a comfortable environment that reduces stress and anxiety.

Working remotely can increase productivity without increasing work hours. Whether it is workplace dramas or unnecessary distractions, working remotely gives you more control over your work environment.

Remote work can offer a more flexible schedule, which makes it easier for people to work when they have the most energy and to make medical appointments. Setting a schedule based on an individual’s productivity levels instead of when an office is open can also mean greater productivity for the business. Of course, this is not always possible, especially in service-oriented industries.

Whether your chronic health condition affects your immune system, is affected by stress levels, makes it difficult to be mobile, or causes increased fatigue, remote work may make it easier to work.

Monitor Your Health With Wearable Devices 

In many ways, healthcare for managing chronic diseases is coming out of the medical setting and entering homes. Wearable devices may improve the quality of life for people with chronic diseases as they collect health metrics anytime and from anywhere. Devices are now available to measure oxygen saturation, temperature, exercise, blood sugar, blood pressure, and much more. This makes it much easier to notice trends and catch changes in our health earlier. It also gives you feedback on how self-care is impacting your overall health.

Remote patient monitoring is a more formal monitoring system. Apnea, heart rate and variability, oxygen saturation, positional trackers, and blood pressure monitors can send a constant data stream to your healthcare provider. Artificial intelligence can evaluate large amounts of data and organize it. Patient monitoring that previously would have required an extended hospital or rehabilitation center stay can now be done from home.

Take Advantage of Telehealth Services

Using a telehealth service, you can schedule appointments or even see a medical provider on the same day, all from the comfort of your home or office. This saves time and money. Besides the worry of taking time off work and setting appointments based on a provider’s schedule, people with chronic diseases also risk catching an illness while at their medical appointment that could lead to extended time off work. A remote doctor’s visit may be the safest and most convenient option for everyone, but especially for people with chronic health conditions.

See a doctor online and experience the benefits of telemedicine. Once you do, you will probably want to receive as much of your healthcare online as possible. It is so much easier to integrate telehealth into your healthcare routine than it was in the past. Your online doctor can diagnose most medical conditions safely and securely via a phone or video call. If you need a prescription, they can transmit it electronically to your pharmacy. It can then be delivered to your home or picked up at your local pharmacy.

If you are interested in telehealth but have questions or are unsure how to start the process, Telegra MD has resources and answers to your questions.

Discuss Your Condition with Your Employer

Disclosing your chronic medical condition to your employer can be stressful. You don’t need to tell anyone about your health unless you want to, but if you need accommodations or your health condition affects your job performance, you may need to disclose at least some information to your supervisor and ultimately to human resources if you need more frequent breaks or a different work schedule. Be straightforward and disclose details about your chronic health condition only to people who need to know them.

Prepare for this conversation by knowing your rights and what accommodations you need. Focus the conversation on the accommodations you need to be as productive as possible at work. Be as specific as you can and only share as much information as you need to help your employer understand how your chronic health condition affects your ability to work in the job environment.

Delegate Tasks When Possible 

If possible, delegate tasks inside the home and workplace to prevent burnout and make it easier for you to focus your energy on more important tasks.

It can be hard to ask for help. Start with your manager or supervisor. Discuss your current limitations and ask for help in identifying tasks that can be delegated to others. Prioritize your tasks. Pass the less critical ones to others so you can focus your energies on the more important tasks. Cross-train in your department to make it easier for people to cover for each other. This will also normalize the idea that people need to help each other.

It is important to strike a balance between protecting your health and meeting your job responsibilities. Delegating tasks can reduce stress and help you manage your workload, leaving more time for self-care.

Establish Clear Boundaries

Set clear boundaries about what you can and cannot do. Establish the importance of keeping your medical appointments early on. Give as much notice as you can about upcoming appointments, but make it clear that your top priority is to keep them. 

Be clear and consistent when discussing your workload expectations, working hours, and roles. Be consistent in enforcing these boundaries. Set realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do and stick to them.

Be Aware of Your Rights

Finally, it is important to see if your chronic health condition qualifies as a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not provide a list of disabilities. It defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life areas, has a history or record of such an impairment, or is perceived as having such an impairment.

ADA is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against anyone based on disability. The ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. Learn more about these workplace requirements at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance for employers.

Telehealth services, remote monitoring, and remote work may make it much easier to overcome some obstacles people with chronic health conditions face as they balance the demands of their job with protecting their health.

References:

  1. Raghupathi W, Raghupathi V. An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Visual Analytics Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Mar 1;15(3):431. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15030431. PMID: 29494555; PMCID: PMC5876976.
  2. Tulu SN, Cook P, Oman KS, Meek P, Kebede Gudina E. Chronic disease self-care: A concept analysis. Nurs Forum. 2021 Jul;56(3):734-741. doi: 10.1111/nuf.12577. Epub 2021 May 3. PMID: 33938572.