You may have heard the rumblings of the return of the wearable coming in 2018. From biometric sensors to cellular capabilities, Silicon Valley hype-monsters are quick to flaunt all of the cool new functionality coming to a wrist near you.
According to them, the concept of “Wearables 2.0” is the industry coming together to fix the mistakes that lead to the downfall of companies like Jawbone and the declining usage of first generation devices in the first place.
They might be right and that may happen, but the resurgence of wearables won’t be because of any user-facing updates. You see, when it comes to the next generation of wearables, it’s ALL about the data.
Where did we start?
About a decade ago, the first wearables hit the market, and suddenly fitness enthusiasts could monitor their step count, stair flights climbed, and the hours they slept. Some were able to make sense of this data and put it to good use, but most of us were left simply trying to hit that 10,000th step of the day so that our slice of pizza afterward wouldn’t hurt so much.
Wearables took off within the fitness community, and in the years to follow, they were the Christmas gift of choice for that cousin who loves running or that teenage nephew you didn’t know what else to get. Slowly but surely, product functionality was built out to serve this early adopter community.
This is where wearables went wrong.
What do you mean they went wrong, they sold a ton of units!
Wearable sales skyrocketed in the early 2010’s and suddenly, established tech moved in to get their cut as well. Apple, Samsung, and many other tech giants released products that did far more than just count steps, which allowed them to not only serve that runner cousin of yours, but also her mom who wanted to be able to read texts and look at her calendar from wherever.
This allowed the Apple Watch to cross the chasm early device manufacturers couldn’t: selling the same product to different segments using different value props.
Okay, how are today’s wearables going to be any different?
Imagine you’re a cardiologist and you’ve got several dozen patients who’ve had heart surgery this year. You want to make sure that they’re keeping up with their recommended activity levels, but you also want to monitor their stress and know right away if anything seems abnormal. This has been a huge blind spot for doctors in the past, as they rarely truly know how things are going once patients leave the building.
With today’s devices and Redox (what? You thought this whole thing worked without us?), a provider could submit an order for an Apple watch from within their EHR, have that device matched to the patient MRN, and then integrate the device results back into the EHR in a fully automated manner.
However, we learned that doctors don’t want all of your step data. So what if we took it another level—using Clinical Decision Support and alerting, you could have a population of at-risk cardiovascular patients all wearing doctor-issued Apple Watch 3’s. If at any point the heart rate of one of the devices exceeds the normal activity level for that patient, an alert can be generated in the provider's EHR—in real time. This provider could take a look and say “hmm, Jim was in here last week and was describing tightness, why don’t I give him a call.” Because that same device now has cellular, the provider can call patient and, within a few moments, be on the phone saying “hey Jim, noticed some higher heart rate activity, are you feeling alright?”
The same thing works for other at-risk patient populations—diabetics who need intensive glucose monitoring, people who suffer from asthma, people suffering from depression, and geriatric patients at risk of injury from falling are just a few of the many types of patients who could benefit from a more integrated and capable wearable device.
Slick workflow, kid. What does it mean?
Well, it means and demonstrates several things:
- It shows how device manufacturers can partner with providers to achieve widespread adaptation and use of a product.
- It represents a recurring revenue channel instead of a one-time purchase. This brings SaaS inside the device and turns it from a one time revenue moment to an endless monthly stream of data.
- The framework allows for further innovation into patient engagement, PROs, case management and physician/patient communication.
- Users are less likely to simply forget about the device in their drawer when running season comes to a close.
At Redox, we’re thinking up how to power all sorts of workflows for the devices of tomorrow. From our perspective, making them successful is all about making them actionable and not gimmicks. That means harnessing data in valuable ways that are substantially different than simply counting steps.
I think that wearables have a fantastic opportunity to bridge the gap in communication between provider and patient, and I’m excited to power the next generation of those tools.
Interested in getting the latest articles about the intersection of healthcare and technology straight to your inbox? Be sure to leave your email below.