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    Handling wearable data remains challenging for physicians

    Patients are using wearable devices from fitness trackers to blood pressure cuffs to record their own healthcare data, and the number of patients doing so is expected to grow significantly.

    The Smart Wearables in Healthcare, 2016-2030 report from research firm Research and Markets identified nearly 250 wearables in the medical field.

    Most are activity/fitness trackers, but the report said companies increasingly are focused on more advanced wearables that produce data ranging from electrocardiograms to blood pressure readings to blood glucose numbers.

    It also predicted that the overall market for smart wearables within healthcare will grow at an annualized rate of 13.6% over the next 15 years.

    Physicians already are seeing an impact from the development and adoption of wearables.

    More and more patients are able—and sometimes eager—to share the health-related data generated by activity trackers, digital glucose monitors, digital asthma inhalers and other such devices, said John Sharp, MSSA, senior manager of Personal Connected Health Alliance, a nonprofit organization formed by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to support work in the wearables space.

    “There are some doctors who politely say ‘no thank you,’ and some doctors are actually encouraging patients to utilize wearables and report back,” Sharp said.

    According to Sharp and other experts, wearables can help improve healthcare outcomes, particularly for physicians working with patients trying to control chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Physicians who receive data such as blood sugar and blood pressure readings taken by wearables between visits can better determine how their patients are doing. That’s particularly important as the country moves to value-based care reimbursement, better incentivizing such monitoring. Experts said patient-generated data can help physicians better target treatments that produce better outcomes, which is the goal of value-based care.

    Next: Making data work for physicians

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