Scientists Debate the Value of Wearable Medical Technology

Imagine a world where people with diabetes or dementia were alerted to health imbalances†before getting sick. Some doctors believe this world is within reach ó and making it possible is wearable medical technology. No, we’re not talking about pacemakers… We’re talking about, essentially, better and more complex variations of your FitBit.

With technology infiltrating our lives in more and more ways, scientists can see pros and cons to extended utilization of wearable medical technologies. Here’s what you need to know about how these technologies work, what some of their benefits may be, how widespread their use already is, and what problems could plague them moving forward.

Examples of Wearable Medical Technology

Like I said, the most common example of wearable medical technology is probably the FitBit. The Apple Watch and other similar devices essentially do the same thing; they can track health signals (from activity levels to heart rate) and use that information to create data about your personal health. Some consumers simply enjoy using these devices to improve healthy lifestyle factors or to learn more about their own well-being, but there are bigger implications for health care as a whole.

Take, for example, Sleep Number’s “smart bed” technology. According to NPR, this kind of technology uses mattress sensitivity to monitor your sleep, basing its data off of factors like your heart rate and how frequently you toss and turn throughout the night. Some doctors believe that this kind of technology could help diagnose sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.

Pros and Cons

While we still have a long way to go before that’s possible, it’s not out of the realm of thinking that sometime in the near future, wearable medical technology could help diagnose disease and monitor the ongoing health patterns of at-risk populations.

However, with these strides in progress have come some concerns. Many scientists wonder at the reliability of technology for diagnosing disease. If these kinds of technologies were to be incorporated into medical care on a large scale, health professionals would have to be very certain of their efficacy.

Another major con is the potential for data abuse. Could having your vital signs, sleeping patterns, activity levels and diet recorded on technology eventually constitute risk factors that correlate with pre-existing conditions? Could this data make it more difficult for some consumers to get health coverage? The answer remains unclear, and is certainly new territory for medical ethicists.

Whether we like it or not, technology continues to disrupt our traditional means of doing things. But whether or not wearable medical technology will ultimately be a suitable means to diagnose and treat medical conditions remains to be seen.

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29 comments

Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE3 months ago

Thank you. I believe that natural is best.

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Lesa D
Lesa D3 months ago

thank you Maggie...

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One Heart i
One Heart inc4 months ago

Thanks!!

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Chad A
Chad Anderson4 months ago

I think we need to look deeper into the need for all of this, particularly on the verge of 5G technology that will need to spread a lot more radiation in order to transmit messages on a new and greater scale. Maybe this is safe and maybe it is not but I wish we were more certain.
https://www.thenation.com/article/how-big-wireless-made-us-think-that-cell-phones-are-safe-a-special-investigation/

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Winn A
Winn A4 months ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A4 months ago

Noted

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Mike R
Mike R4 months ago

Thanks

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heather g
heather g4 months ago

Thank you Co L for your input. I was also surprised that the author and readers didn't pick up any concerns about radiation.

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Anne M
Anne Moran4 months ago

k

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R4 months ago

When person infront of the tehnology become object instead of subject of healing process i see only profit...Thank you.

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