For the last century, advancements in medical science and technology has been extending life expectancy's significantly. As of 2016, figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO), estimated the average global life expectancy was 70.5 years, with the life expectancy in US slightly below average at 69.1 years.
This means that a larger percentage than ever before of the US population is aging and this trend is only going to continue. The Population Reference Bureau predicted that the number of Americans over the age of 65 will double from 46 million people today to 98 million by 2060.
This has pushed a lot of the conversations away from just increasing the length of lives to how we can utilize all this knowledge and technology to improve ensure our quality of life once we get there. We spoke to David Kho MD, Chief Medical Informatics Officer for Chenmed LLC to ask him how tech is going to care for us as more of us enter our golden years for longer.
Innovation Enterprise: With an aging population, how important will wearables become to healthcare?
David Kho: There are 3 reasons for why wearables will become increasingly vital to healthcare:
1. Early warning - By detecting early warning signs of an impending, serious medical event, timely steps can be taken to intervene and help the patient before things escalate. The classic example is of a wearable or implantable cardiac monitoring device detecting dangerous heart rhythms and alerting both the patient and provider of an impending heart attack. However, there are other less obvious examples, a wearable or ingestible device with an accelerometer measuring changes in physical activity can indicate changes in sleep patterns, mobility ability, energy levels, etc.
2. Patient empowerment - Healthy behaviors are ultimately what will achieve the best outcomes. By providing data about their health directly to the patient, he/she is empowered to make the health-promoting decisions in real-time. Numerous studies have also shown the effectiveness of biofeedback control of vital signs when a patient is able to view his/her vital signs.
3. Improved Medical research - With the appropriate protections and controls for patient privacy and security, aggregated data collected from wearables will transform the way we conduct clinical trials. Currently, many clinical trials suffer from a lack of diversification in their study subjects, this affects how the FDA and ultimately a doctor decides on the dosing and effectiveness for a specific patient who may not have been represented in the original drug trial. Wearables allow for the collection of real-world data from many more to augment the formal clinical trials.
For the full interview, visit Innovation Enterprise.