Devices & Technology

What the Fashionable, Tech-Savvy Patient Will Be Wearing This Year

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By Melissa Hagstrom, contributor

January 14, 2014 - Whether you want to jump-start your New Year’s resolution for healthier living or keep an eye on your blood glucose levels, there’s a device that can help you do it. In fact, 2014 is expected to be a big year for advances in wearable medical technology and consumer-friendly products to meet the needs of today’s tech-savvy patients.

One company making their mark in the wearable medical device category is iHealth, an organization dedicated to helping people lead healthier lives. Their health products line include wireless blood pressure monitors (wrist and arm cuff), smart scales (weight, body fat, BMI, muscle mass, etc.), blood glucose monitors, wireless ambulatory electrocardiograms (EKG), pulse oximeters, and an activity and sleep tracker--and all of the products can be connected to a free iHealth app for smart phones or tablets (both iOS and Android), using Bluetooth connections. 

“We are the leaders in the design and manufacture of consumer-friendly, mobile personal health care products that are connected to the cloud,” said Jim Taschetta, director of marketing and public relations for iHealth Labs. “We focus on making high-quality devices that are easy to use, making it simple for consumers and health care professionals to accurately measure, track and share a full range of health vitals.”

iHealth's pulse oximeter is a personalized medical device.
The pulse oximeter from iHealth displays results on the fingertip monitor and mobile devices, allowing patients and nurses to track blood oxygen saturation levels quickly and easily.

“By connecting the data through smart phones and tablets to the cloud, patients are able to see a more comprehensive view of their vitals and easily share data with health care professionals and caregivers,” Tashchetta explained.

Although products such as iHealth’s wearable EKG are designed to be used by the patient outside of the health care setting, the devices may be a boon for caregivers such as nurses, and help to improve the overall care plan.

“Because these products are easy to use and fully connected, health care professionals can more easily take measurements and track results,” Taschetta said.

“For the nurse, our pulse oximeter would also likely be a very popular product,” Taschetta gave as an example. “It measures pulse and blood oxygen saturation levels, using a sleek fingertip monitor that displays results directly on the device and on your mobile device.”

Fitness technology 

Fitbit’s The Force wristband motivates users with real-time stats.
The Force™ Wireless Activity & Sleep Wristband from Fitbit helps users stay motivated to keep moving with real-time stats right on their wrist. Photo credit:

For patients focused on maintaining an active lifestyle, Fitbit is emerging as one of the biggest players in wearable fitness technology. Fitbit’s newest product, The Force™ Wireless Activity & Sleep Wristband, allows the wearer to track daily activity and sleep, see real time progress across devices and set daily goals.

According to the company, users take 43 percent more steps when wearing a Fitbit. The Force and other Fitbit products have been lauded for their simplicity and ease of use and have won accolades from tech gurus at CNET, USA Today and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

ABI Research, a technology market intelligence company with a 23-year proven track record, estimates that wearable medical technology sales will reach more than $10 million a year by 2016, and wearable sports and fitness devices will peak at $80 million. It’s safe to say that patient-focused health and medical technology is poised to transform healthcare and how it is delivered and monitored.

Smart clothing 

AIQ’s wearable electrodes aid in weight control and more.
AIQ’s wearable electrodes provide vital sign monitoring for different applications in a daily living environment. BioMan is designed for weight control, sports training and health monitoring. Photo credit: AIQ Clothing.

The wearable technology market seems to be dominated by medical devices, but clothing counts, too. Yes, there is such a thing as “smart” attire and AIQ Smart Clothing has combined technology and textiles to launch some cutting-edge products.

From sports bras and shirts that provide vital sign monitoring to anti-radiation clothing, AIQ integrates stainless steel yarns and threads directly into clothing creating fashionable, functional, lightweight and washable products.

The age of personal medical technology 

“The explosion of wearable medical technology is driven by the intersection of a growing need on the health care front and the acceleration of new and better technology. Most would agree that our health care system is not working for the majority. Out-of-pocket costs for consumers continue to rise while the population continues to age. As a result, more people are feeling the need to take a more active role in managing their health,” Taschetta commented.

“Technology continues to drive smaller, more cost effective methods for designing medical devices,” he continued. “When you add the explosion of the mobile or connected technology to the affordable hardware, you now have the ability to produce highly effective medical devices that are accessible to the common user.”

© 2014. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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