Wearables: A healthcare fad or revolution?
Adam Splaver, MD, has noticed a growing trend in his practice as a primary care physician and cardiologist. Each day, four to five patients come in equipped with technology such as Fitbit or the wristband app UP by Jawbone to help them stay on track with their fitness and diet goals.
“It’s a great addition to help them be more cognizant of their activity and what they are eating,” says Splaver, who practices with two other physicians at Nano Health Associates, in Hollywood, Florida. He finds that wearable devices and apps have helped non-exercisers develop exercise routines and record what they eat.
“Once you have to take notes and say `I had this, this and this for lunch and that brownie,’ it kind of hits home,” says Splaver. “A lot of people eat unconsciously. Once they track it, they’ll think twice about having that brownie.”
From consumer-based Fitbits to high-tech diabetes management tools, technology is playing a bigger role in patients’ daily lives. The challenge for physicians is to find ways to incorporate the resulting health data into their practices.
On the other hand, such devices can’t work miracles. “They really aren’t a substitute for motivation,” Splaver says. “It has to come from within.”
Healthline, a provider of health information and technology solutions, recently surveyed its readers and found that 52% used at least one mobile health app. About one-third had used their technology for three to six months, and another one-third had used it for less than three months. The most commonly-used app was MyFitnessPal. Juniper Research predicted in 2014 that the 19,000 wearable fitness devices in use globally will almost triple in number by 2020.