Wearables in Healthcare: Transforming the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Posted On Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Wearables in Healthcare: Transforming the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Many of my patients ask me if they should get a new smart watch or other type of fitness tracker for themselves or a loved one this holiday season.

I get excited to discuss these products with my patients, but caution them that no device by itself will make you healthier.

Staying fit requires discipline, hard-work, and patience. Nonetheless, I think these devices are a helpful tool in our fitness and wellness endeavors.

What is a Wearable Device?

Wearables represent a new generation of smart devices. Ergonomic in design and easy to handle and carry, these smart devices rely on computers, wireless networks, and the interactive user. Wearables are increasingly used in the health, sports, industrial, military and entertainment sectors where the users require data on the move. Wearables can range from wrist watches, bracelets and rings to smart glasses and more.

Wearables Are Transforming the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Mobile applications, wearable devices and nanotechnology are revolutionizing healthcare. Innovations in wearables and their use in the field of healthcare are not only setting new and interesting parameters for further innovation, but also are saving countless lives around the world and opening up new possibilities for all the parties involved: hospitals, researchers, physicians and patients.

For instance, smart bracelets are increasingly being employed to monitor an individual’s health status. Wearable contact lenses can now be used to measure blood glucose levels and automatically inject the quantity of insulin needed. Other devices provide real-time feedback to healthcare teams, allowing adjustments to a patient’s medications on the go.

Wearables as a Portable Medical Provider

Devices like the Fitbit wristband and other personal tracking tools are becoming more common, allowing us to track several variables related to our lifestyles, such as our physical activity, sleep patterns, blood pressure and caloric intake. This trend has sought to transform the entire dynamic of the doctor-patient traditional relationship by opening new doors to more advanced forms of treatment and care, such as remote monitoring, telemedicine, etc.

The Era of Wrist or Pocket Doctors

As the health sector is increasing its pace of adoption of technology, these devices will grow in importance due to the ability to collect and analyze data. Given the amazing changes that these new wearable technologies are bringing in the scope of healthcare, it won’t be wrong to claim that we are in the midst of a healthcare revolution that will give us more power than ever to manage our lives.

The ability to keep track of our diet, physical activity and sleep patterns will give us the opportunity to better understand how our body functions and responds, allowing us to adapt our lifestyle to get the best out of ourselves.

However no matter how smart the technology, our own willingness to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle will continue to be the most important factor.

Dr. Jan Szatkowski

Dr. Szatkowski is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic trauma surgeon who specializes in preventing or reducing permanent disability in the most complex orthopaedic cases. Dr. Szatkowski treats patients for various orthopaedic needs such as post-traumatic arthritis, simple and complex fractures, revision surgery and joint replacement surgery at the Andrews Institute.

Dr. Szatkowski has previously practiced in Chicago, where he was the chairman of orthopaedics at one of the busiest trauma centers in the country, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Dr. Szatkowski completed a fellowship at Campbell Clinic's Level 1 Trauma Center at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine and completed his residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Szatkowski is passionate about providing the highest quality of care possible with open, honest communications with patients; treating the patient as an entire person, rather than just the immediate medical problem.

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