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The Digital, Wearable Revolution: Changing How Health, Wellness and Healthcare Will Be Delivered

Nov 5, 2014

If you use a FitBit, check a wearable device daily to track how many steps you take or have pre-ordered your Apple Watch, you’re part of the next revolution in health care.

fitbitJust as consumers’ love of the Internet forced retailers and to start selling their products online, and just as consumers’ love of their mobile devices forced developers to create websites and videos that work as well on tiny handhelds as they do on 25-inch monitors, consumers’ interest in staying healthy and knowing how their bodies function is pushing the health-care profession into the digital age.

About time, too.

That was one of the many insights from Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Women to Watch Summit 2015 in New York on Tuesday, an event at which I had the honor of introducing women who are leading the way in mobile marketing, content, video and well, everything.

The digital revolution’s impact is transforming how we, as consumers, manage our own health and wellness, and it’s forcing medical professionals, hospitals and insurance companies to join the bandwagon, willingly or not.

Wearable devices, invisible monitors and the biometric data they can capture provide consumers with more information about their bodies, minds and emotional well-being than they’ve ever had before. A recent Fast Company infographic highlighted a range of new digital wearable technologies, including:

  • Microsoft Smart Bra that tracks breast perspiration and heart rate as emotional triggers for overeating (sign me up!)
  • Hexoskin wearable body metrics that track activity and breathing volume
  • LumoLift posture monitor delivers a buzzy alert when a body slumps, the digital version of a mother’s poke to “sit up straight!”
  • JawBone UP tracks food consumption, sleep patterns and physical activity
  • JUNE Wristband provides “real-time sun protection advice”

NOTE TO DEVELOPERS: I’m hoping there’s one for calorie counting too, which, like the LumoLift above, alerts consumers when they’re nearing their recommended daily calorie intake.

The digital revolution in healthcare goes beyond doctors, nurse practitioners and medical workers using tablets for record keeping, or hospitals buying bigger MRI machines. Futurists have long predicted “consumer-directed healthcare,” and the digital revolution with its wearable monitors means that the future has arrived.

According to Pauline Coderre, Strategy Consultant for U.S Medical Health Education (part of Eli Lilly & Company), 75% of American adults rely on the Internet for health information each month, and the explosion of mobile technologies, monitors and wearable devices means that health awareness, health monitoring and self-care will become even more important in coming years and decades.

Armed with real-time information about their bodies, patients can become even more involved partners in the doctor-patient relationship. Able to help patients understand the impact of their conditions or diseases, doctors can use digitally-derived data to educate patients about the lifestyle changes, medicines and other interventions that can keep them on the wellness path.

The possibilities, in fact, are endless.  And very exciting, too.

How will the digital revolution and adoption of wearable devices change healthcare and the medical profession? How will it alter the doctor-patient relationship? Healthcare companies and their revenues?

We’ll get into the healthcare cost debate in another post soon.

 

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