Wearables: Telemedicine Meets the Consumer


Whenever you snap a picture and send it to a friend for advice, you’re blazing a trail to the future of telemedicine.  The American Telemedicine Association defines this activity as the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.

A hot topic these days, the concept actually dates back forty years to when hospitals extended care to patients in remote locations.  With the advancing technology of “wearable” devices, coupled with data gathering and storage capabilities, the “from one site to another” in the definition is fast becoming “from the patient’s home, office, work and play sites to the cloud.”  And from there, authorized healthcare payers and providers can access that information to deliver improved services and care management.  Recently Google announced its Android Wear operating system for smart watches, which is just the beginning for the overall “wearable” smart-devices market.

By introducing a wearable- based operating system, Google has opened the doors for a myriad of applications and devices.  Currently, most are focused on real-time fitness and environmental data gathering.  Not far behind will be the integration of existing applications and newly created ones for acquiring vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and pulmonary test results.  Imagine the volume of data captured if every single person in the United States was transmitting their vital signs every hour of the day!  If you happen to be under the care of a physician and a member associated with an Accountable Care Organization, the more data gathered about you, the better.  Via big data analytics, payers and providers will be able to communicate and administer care much more proactively, leading to a healthier community, and fewer hospital admissions.

Since my teenager is already comfortable snapping a photo of her acne and sending it to a friend for advice, it will be a small leap for her to gather her health information via “wearables” and give access to experts to manage her care in the future.  Over the next five years, medical devices and applications monitoring patients in real-time will be common practice.  Healthcare companies that can leverage these technologies, protect consumer data and patient privacy, and deliver effective care management will thrive; those that don’t will succumb to market pressures and perish.

About the author

Mr. Chang is a Director, within the Energy, Life Sciences, and Healthcare (ELH) vertical. Richard brings nearly 30 years of experience within the advisory services and strategic sourcing industry. He has broad and extensive expertise across the entire Information Technology and Business Process outsourcing life-cycle, from assessment and strategy to contract negotiations and operational governance. He is responsible for client relationship development and advisory services delivery for ISG’s Healthcare clients.