Could Wearable Tech Make Us Our Own Doctors?
During the national lockdowns, the chances are your FitBit will have made a reappearance. If you were anything like us, assiduously clocking up your 10,000 steps a day became your daily highlight! Others, of course, will have taken it one step further, perhaps checking their heart rate on their Apple Watch. Yes – those bad boys can also log your workouts and allow you access to ECG (electrocardiogram) functions! Then, at the end of your workout, perhaps you might have slipped a pulse oximeter on your finger. Checking that your blood oxygen levels are where they should be just has to be done!
It’s true! These are all medical checks you can now perform at home using wearable tech. Yet, even just ten years ago, the very concept was unthinkable. So, we can only wonder what the future for wearable tech holds for the next ten years? Throw the recent surge in innovation and tech into the mix, and these are exciting times! Who knows – we could even become our own doctors in the not too distant future.
The growth in tech
As alluded to earlier, the pandemic has seen exponential growth in the tech industry. By 2024, the market for wearable tech to monitor vital signs alone is expected to reach $1bn (£730 mn). No doubt, it will be driven by a number of factors. Populations are getting older. Research and development is ever improving. 5G is on the horizon meaning even greater connectivity. Then, there is also the sad reality that Covid-19 has made everyone increasingly aware of their health!
So what will the future in wearable tech have in store?
Wearable tech devices like watches will continue. But, it’s also likely that wearable tech will start being incorporated into part of your clothing. We’ll see sensors, biomechanical and motion, strategically situated at specific parts of the body to communicate with an overall Body Area Network system. And, it’s likely we’ll see the upsurgance of ‘implantables,’ including everything from intelligent pacemakers to key wellness monitors measuring levels such as blood sugar.
The beauty of this technology is that devices will be able to communicate with both the wearer and with their doctor. So, while the wearer will be able to take immediate action themselves, their medical practitioner will also be alerted to any problems. The benefits for the medical profession are ten-fold. Not only will they receive vital information and be alerted to key triggers in real time, but they will also save valuable time gathering the statistics they need to inform them on a patient’s health.
There is, though, one potential downside. Namely, the cost! Tech never comes cheap and some (if not all) of the wearable tech described will be expensive. No doubt there will be concerns that wearable tech might widen the health divide between rich and poor. The answer seems obvious – and may well present medical professionals and policymakers with plenty of potential headaches…
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Written by Ian Barnett
Ian is an experienced Chartered Financial Planner as well as being a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society, with over 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry. With a broad range of client experience and expertise, Ian specialises in financial matters from Pre-Retirement Planning to Inheritance Tax Planning and all points in between.