The Wearable Effect

Many wearable devices are currently used for general wellness and monitoring, but it poses the question as to whether they should be used in a medical environment.

There are some amazing examples of how devices are working in practice for medical purposes. For example, Bath University and Ki Health Innovations have designed an app to support the link between exercise and improved health.  This is about providing real-time information from medically approved body sensors that capture data, which is analysed and run through a number of algorithms, before being relayed back to the user in a comprehensible and meaningful way. This is just one great case where the University has identified a way to provide a benefit to patients, by accessing an app on a device which they use in their everyday life.

But what’s important to note, is that the device itself – whether a mobile or wearable – isn’t the key element, it’s the analysis of the data that provides insight that can be used to help to make important decisions, as well as the connection with other clinical data. This information can be transformed from a data feed to help provide a better medical or patient outcome, and help form part of a patient’s Electronic Health Record (EHR).

Through data analytics, healthcare organisations can then capture all the information they hold and obtain a broader view of the patient to help provide a better and more personalised health service. This data can be used to create a more predictive healthcare model and contribute vital data to medical research. However, before any data analysis can take place, healthcare organisations still need to manage the complexity and governance from gathering information from multiple data sources. Whilst data sharing is becoming more common in some areas of medical research, particularly among genomics investigators and research groups, individual, patient-level clinical trial data sharing is less common because of concerns with the sharing of data. To overcome this challenge, this process has to start with support from clinicians for the culture to change, in regards to how they use technology for better data capture.

For this to become a reality, clinical environments must be better equipped to deliver radically improved services for patients. Technology can enable this flow of information across different health and care settings; it can put practitioners and patients on a much more level playing field, where patients can use mobile apps and devices to act on their own health and wellbeing; and it can enable more personalised treatment plans that can deliver better outcomes for the individual. This is only just scratching the surface of what can be achieved.

Only by making individual patient data, gathered from wearable devices and other technologies that are authorised to be used in a medical environment, available to the whole healthcare community can we derive real benefit and value.

 This is a guest article by James Norman, Public Sector CIO, Dell EMC UK&I.

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