The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced that they’re providing $75 million over five years as part of a cooperative agreement to advance the United States’ effort in electronics manufacturing. Industry, academia and local governments will contribute an additional $90 million. The money is being tapped for use by a consortium featuring over 160 companies, universities, and non-profits. The consortium includes Apple, Stanford and MIT.
A couple of market segments which look to benefit from these contributions are wearable technology and healthcare apps. The array of products which are expected to flourish include wearable devices and medical health monitoring technologies.
Apple’s Impact on Wearables for Healthcare
Wearable technology has made great strides in a short amount of time, especially over the last year. Apple is at the heart of this movement with their wearable sensor technology and innovations. Apple’s creation of a tool for developers called Healthkit enables health and fitness apps to not only work with Apple’s new Health app but to work together as well.
Fourteen major hospitals are piloting the HealthKit platform to track patient care and reduce operating costs, and Apple has more than 600 developers integrating HealthKit into health and fitness apps.
Nurses Already Benefitting from New Apps
Healthcare providers are some of the people already benefiting from emerging technology. A partnership between Apple and IBM has resulted in four apps which were designed to help nurses with management and organizational efforts so they have more time for patient care. The apps include:
- The Hospital RN tool, which enables nurses to tap into record keeping systems, organization tools and iBeacon technology for streamlined management tasks
- Hospital Tech, which lets nursing assistants organize and prioritize tasks, which frees up time for patient care
- Hospital Lead, which helps care managers and charge nurses better manage workloads, staff assignments and patient discharge tasks
- The Home RN app, which provides tools to gain greater efficiency in managing caseloads and reporting needs to specialists during home care interaction
Support for Monitoring Chronic Conditions
In September 2014, after Epic announced that they would be integrating their MyChart app patient portal with Apple’s HealthKit, Cerner and Athenahealth revealed their plans to develop mobile health apps which integrate with Healthkit.
Their goal is to help doctors monitor patients with chronic conditions from home and identify health risks by having Healthkit gather and place important patient data such as blood pressure readings and glucose levels into one place.
Medication adherence for chronically ill patients is also being aided by mobile apps. Omnicell’s SureMed™ by Omnicell® multi-medication blister cards can be complemented by a mobile medication management app from Medisafe that helps patients remember to take their medications and keeps a digital record for themselves as well as their caregivers, pharmacists and doctors. This merging of physical and digital medication adherence tools was demonstrated at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting & Exhibition in New Orleans, which took place this week.
Improving Results for Cancer and Diabetes Patients
The use of wearables is being looked at to improve results for people suffering from both cancer and diabetes.
In two separate pilot programs, those treating cancer are looking to maximize the benefits of treatment methods through the use of wearables. The MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper in New Jersey is using an Apple Watch device featuring a custom app for breast cancer patients to track behavioral information for ensuring treatment programs remain on target.
London’s King’s College Hospital is trying a chemotherapy app to remind users about medication intake and lets them share data with caregivers on everything from physical activity to temperature and other body vital signs, according to a report at Wareable.
Several companies are looking into non-invasive technologies to measure glucose levels for diabetics. The apps, which would be programmed into a wearable, would measure the levels through sensors and in some cases transfer that information to physicians and caregivers.
Future of Wearables
The full extent of the value of wearables cannot be completely understood at this time. However, with the rate of growth and degree of interest expressed thus far, the market looks to be expanding quickly. Government, academia and corporations already see its potential and with their continuous investments—the rest of us can only benefit.