Healthcare industry to benefit from rise of wearable devices

The thriving market of wearable devices is enhancing quality of care and bridging the gap between doctors and patients.

Wearable devices are a growing trend within the healthcare industry. In fact, the market for wearable technology - which stood at $7.1 billion in 2015 - is expected to grow to $12.6 billion by 2018, according to MedCityNews.

Shipments of healthcare wearables were up 21 million units from 2013 to 2015, reported the source. And they do not seem to show any signs of slowing down.

These health tracking tools monitor fitness goals, provide comprehensive medical data, observe health trends and most importantly, engage the consumer in his own health and well-being. Yet the market is not one-sided. Patients and doctors alike are embracing wearable technology and it's helping to bridge the gap between the two, reported intellectual property law blog IPWatchdog.

"Digitally enabled care is no longer nice to have, it's fundamental for delivering high quality care," said health information technology practice leader of PwC Daniel Garrett, according to IPWatchdog. "Just as the banking and retail sectors today use data and technology to improve efficiency, raise quality, and expand services, healthcare must either do the same or lose patients to their competitors who do so."

Although it may be one of the last industries to engage in consumer-centered technology, the healthcare industry is reaping the benefits. Through the access, communication and interoperability that wearables provide, the future of patient care can change for the better. New technologies allow for faster diagnosis, more effective treatment and potentially even the prevention of illness in the first place.

Perhaps most significant is the transparency that wearable devices in the healthcare sector can provide doctors and their patients, primarily among those with chronic illness. These technologies can give greater insight and awareness for patient monitoring, most notably in terms of adherence to prescription and medical instructions. Physicians can better monitor those living with an illness such as diabetes or hypertension and for patients that have recently been released for at-home care, doctors are quickly alerted and notified of any changes.

At the same time, wearable technology gives the patient increased jurisdiction and greater control of his own health. Thanks to the innovation and significant growth of wearables in the healthcare sector, the quality of care and the relationship between patient and clinician are improving drastically.