Wearable technology such as smart watches, fitness monitors, shoes and headsets is the next big trend, say Credit Suisse analysts in a report published last week. Companies need to pay attention to this field because it will have a “significant and pervasive impact on the economy”, the authors say. The market will grow rapidly in the next three to five years, from about US$3 billion to US$5 billion today to US$30 billion to US$50 billion.
Many of these devices will be fitness and wellness gadgets, but wearable devices have great potential in medical technology as well. Medtechinsider recently covered a new hack for Google Glass that allows physicians to store and sort patient information, one of many ways Google Glass could impact the healthcare industry. Examples of wearable medical technology for patients include T-shirts that track patients’ location and vital signs, headsets that track EEG and knitted fetal monitors.
Medical wearable devices have complex hurdles to overcome, however. One challenge is the difficulty of securely storing and transferring electronic health records. Members of the Linkedin group Digital Health discussed the limitations of medical records for wearable devices earlier this week. Price is another factor that will hamper growth. Despite the hype of Google Glass apps for physicians, most doctors will not be wiling to spend US$1500 on a device, but the market will increase as prices drop, said Kyle Samani, inpatient deployment manager at VersaSuite, in a recent post on the Healthcare Blog. Patients, on the other hand, are reluctant to wear devices in locations that best track their vital signs, said Chris Van Hoof, Program Director of Wearable Healthcare at imec, in a recent interview with medtechinsider.
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