Last year we saw a boom in popularity of wearable technology, as devices like the Apple Watch, and Fitbit and Jawbone bands were all the rage. These devices, which can keep track of users' activity level and heart rate, are a hit among consumers, but how and when will they take off in the world of healthcare?
Wearable technologies have the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of patients and in the way nurses deliver care, but neither healthcare systems nor the technologies themselves are quite there yet.
Nevertheless, wearable technologies hold a lot of promise in clinical health care environments. “Imagine nurses getting alerts on an Apple Watch to say what patient receives what medication at what time, rather than having to look at a chart or a computer," said Bill Balderaz, president of Fathom Healthcare, sharing his opinion with the American Nurses Association Career Center blog (www.nursingworld.org).
In addition to keeping track of patients, wearable technologies could even monitor caregivers as they work. With fatigue being a major concern for nurses, Balderaz said wearables could be programmed to create an alert when a provider is showing signs of fatigue. The device could test for fatigue though an app that measures reaction time or cognitive skills, or monitors biological data. Step trackers can show nurses how far they’ve actually walked during a shift.
A different type of wearable technology -- Google Glass -- uses an optical head-mounted display that is worn like a pair of eyeglasses. Though not available to consumers yet, five hospitals across the country are pioneering the use of Google Glass in healthcare in hopes of providing better-coordinated care and better outcomes with fewer office visits, all while reducing costs.
With many facilities still getting acclimated to Meaningful Use and electronic record keeping, do you think wearable technologies will catch on in healthcare?
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