Will Wearables Change Healthcare?
As social media continues to become more and more a part of everyday life, it’s not a far stretch to imagine all aspects of our life having some form of social connection. Already, we receive newsfeed updates from our friends on Facebook that just ran a 5K. Their Nike Fuel band records important workout data including distance, total time, mile pace and if they reached their goal or not along with other data collected through the wearable technology and shared with one push of a button.
It’s also no surprise that the landscape of healthcare is rapidly changing because of a rise in insurance costs along with constant changes in health care reimbursement for the providers. Health providers are now changing their focus to keep patients out of the hospital and also examining ways to avoid the reimbursement losses if they are readmitted within a certain time frame. This is a completely different structure compared to how medical facilities chose to operate even just a few years ago.
With Apple soon releasing their new iWatch, which will feature advanced health-tracking apps, the realm of health wearable technology and their interaction with social media has begun to stand-out among health/social media conversations. Although, there is no regulation on consumer health wearables, Apple has already begun talks with the FDA to see if the possibility of a clinical integration could even be a reality.
This is where it gets interesting for the healthcare professional. They are still ironing out all the details as to how they are going to react to these changes but imagine if instead of creating these mass “health home” teams, there is a possibility (the reality of which is still years in the future) to remotely monitor patients with helpful tools to fight against heart disease, obesity and other health issues that could require readmission.
For example, if a doctor could possibly monitor a patient who had a cardiac event remotely and note that even though he prescribed light exercise 4 days a week to increase and strengthen their heart muscles, the patient isn’t following through. After sending an alert, no different than sending a text message, reminding the patient that they need to exercise, perhaps then a “health home” person follows up. This would better focus the resources the medical facility is currently planning to use in order to lower readmission rates and increase their reimbursement rates.
As with the Nike Fuel Band the user could also choose to share what ever information or perhaps even set goals over social media. The fact of how easy it would be to share that information through a wearable or even someone’s phone is where the HIPAA professionals get nervous. Even the act of pushing personal data to a physician would be seen as intrusive by certain people. Although, that would be allowable through the current HIPAA laws.
These new technologies will not completely change the way health care marketers work, but they will add to the ways we need to engage and monitor the social landscape. Wearables do present a unique opportunity to reach the consumer at an even more personable level than the phone.
It’s an exciting time in front of us for healthcare and social media. Whether health wearables will change the face of social media is yet to be determined, but there is no doubt that they have already had an impact. The scale of that impact could be as far as diagnosing a medical issue to remaining the exercise tool they are today.