In recent years, the IoT market has shown rapid expansion and growth, especially in the medical field. IoT use in healthcare is expected to be worth $534.3 billion by 2025. Among its most useful applications are medical wearables, which enable accurate data collection and the ability to monitor vital signs. These contain various types of PCBs, including flexible PCBs and rigid-flex PCBs that are smaller and lighter than other types, making them more ideal than their rigid counterparts. In addition, many of these devices also contain temperature sensors, and skin perspiration sensors to help monitor symptoms. Because this technology is constantly developing, here are some of the latest trends in medical wearables:
Applications in cardiology
Many fitness wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit have the ability to detect a person’s heart rate, which comes in handy during exercise. However, applications in the field of cardiology are still a generation away from becoming feasible. One of the most well-known studies on wearable healthcare technology so far is the Apple Heart Study, which demonstrated the possibility of smartwatch-based atrial fibrillation screening. They are now currently partnering with Johnson & Johnson in a large-scale clinical trial, to not only screen for the condition but actually detect the condition and treat it as well. The good news is that professional cardiologists in The Heart Rhythm Society appear to endorse the technology: “Wearables can contribute to an early diagnosis and to a better management of diseases,” but the helpfulness of continuous screening techniques is still being debated.
Applications for sleep disorders
When it comes to monitoring sleeping habits, mobile apps, online programs, and wearables are some of the most popular methods. Through this technology, you can track your sleep patterns and address any areas of concern for improvement. However, commercial fitness devices have limited accuracy when it comes to measuring short naps or tracking light and deep sleep. In contrast, the Withings ScanWatch is allegedly going to be the first FDA-approved wearable designed to detect sleep apnea and various abnormalities. This year, it is likely the divide between consumer wearables and traditional diagnostic forms of testing will lessen. Remote patient monitoring is becoming more prevalent across large hospitals, with higher projected numbers of FDA-approved devices to help enable this. While using this technology can give you a better understanding of your sleeping habits, it is unlikely that they’ll fully replace conventional forms of sleep testing soon.
Applications in diabetes management
The management of chronic diseases like diabetes is a concern for many affected individuals. To remedy this issue, medical wearables perform a variety of functions. They can help track blood sugar patterns, issue reminders about medication, and provide general advice for diets and lifestyles. A popular tool is the traditional insulin pump which is designed to manually deliver medication to control blood sugar levels depending on the required level. More recently, developers are venturing into the creation of “Closed Loop Systems,” which automatically monitor a patient’s blood sugar levels in real-time and automatically adjust the level of medication for them. In addition, the startup Klue has created a behavior tracking software that uses AI to determine a patient’s meals and give insight into their behaviors. Automating the identification of meals and adjusting insulin delivery can dramatically simplify a diabetic’s lifestyle. Investing in wearable technology that is affordable, minimally invasive, and can be made widely available should be a priority for companies in this field.
Ultimately, medical wearables can have a massive impact in the field of healthcare. While more research and development is needed to determine their full potential and efficacy in terms of dealing with disease, they show significant potential in improving the lives and jobs of patients and doctors worldwide.