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The Intriguing Intersection of Wearable Technology and Healthcare

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by Richard Chang

The outlook for wearables in the healthcare sector is very bright. So bright, in fact, that Soreon Research estimates the current global market to be US $2 billion and, that by 2020—just five years from now—it will be $41 billion. Another research organization, IDTechEx, predicts that the wearable technology market will reach $70 billion by 2024 with healthcare as the dominant sector. Even if we assume these estimates to be high, and cut them by 50 percent, we are still talking about tremendous growth. But what does this mean for those who are willing to surrender their bodies to real-time monitoring and those who will be capturing and using the data from these devices?

Here are the Top 5 ways wearables are changing the healthcare industry.

1. Wearable technologies are closing the gap between the healthcare consumer and the healthcare provider. With new federal legislation and advances in technology, the healthcare market is trending towards increased transparency and higher levels of customized care. Wearable technologies promise consumers broader access with individualized diagnoses and care at a price point they can select. Wearables like wrist blood pressure monitors, for example, also extend the potential of tele-medicine, making it possible to provide clinical healthcare to patients no matter where they are.

2. Data and information security is serious business. Electronic health records systems, cloud data storage and health information exchanges are creating vast stores of data that must be protected. Wearable technologies add yet another dimension to the web of interoperable systems vying to serve the growing healthcare market. Complying with federal health information privacy and security requirements is top of mind for executives in organizations that serve the US healthcare sector, organizations that must quickly expand security capabilities they have not previously been expected to claim as core competencies.

3. Non-healthcare companies are getting in on the action. The wearables currently deployed in healthcare are only the tip of the iceberg for the commercially viable devices, monitors and applications we will see in the future. Companies in industries far afield from healthcare—from Apple to Walmart—are investing in wearable prototypes and building deep healthcare domain expertise.

4. Healthcare and government markets continue to converge. From the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), legislation and policy are responsible for sweeping changes in the internal systems and operations of healthcare organizations. A less familiar act, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, promotes the adoption and meaning use of health information technology. As wearables continue to prove their value, their impact on cities and government agencies will become more mainstream.

5. The impact on public health will be widespread. All of the federal and state healthcare organizations, from the Center for Disease Control to the Veterans Health Administration to local agencies serving Medicare, are part of this convergence with technology. If you take into account all of these agencies, the US government is one of the largest healthcare provider networks in the world. When it begins to deploy wearables among its patients, the touchpoints of technology that once seemed like science fiction will become commonplace in our healthcare system.

Emerging technologies like wearables are revolutionizing healthcare, and the rapid pace of change can be disorienting. ISG helps enterprises―both public and private― to navigate the changing landscape.

Make decisions that are right for you. Contact me for help.

About the author

Mr. Chang is a Director, within the Energy, Life Sciences, and Healthcare (ELH) vertical. Richard brings nearly 30 years of experience within the advisory services and strategic sourcing industry. He has broad and extensive expertise across the entire Information Technology and Business Process outsourcing life-cycle, from assessment and strategy to contract negotiations and operational governance. He is responsible for client relationship development and advisory services delivery for ISG’s Healthcare clients.