Andrew Rickman, CEO of Rockley explains why wearables will be at the heart of a healthcare revolution in 2023.
A revolution is coming to healthcare—and soon. Over the next year, wearable devices and the advanced sensors and AI technologies that work with them will transform healthcare for millions of patients, enabling them to avoid many serious health conditions and better diagnose and manage a range of chronic illnesses.
Deloitte Global forecasts that 320 million health and wellness wearables will ship to consumers worldwide in 2022. By 2024, it says, that number will rise to almost 440 million as new devices are released, and healthcare providers grow more comfortable with them.
In short, technology will soon be playing an essential part in helping people get healthy and remain healthy as they age. Here are five ways wearables will change healthcare in 2023.
1. Wearables will improve continuous biomarker monitoring—and health with it
It has long been a goal of providers and patients to measure blood glucose levels noninvasively, without pricking a finger and drawing blood. That goal will be closer to reality in 2023. It will also become possible to measure blood pressure noninvasively in the coming year, thanks to next-generation wearable devices powered by advanced biomarker sensors.
Let’s start with glucose measurements, which are essential not only to those with diabetes but also to the population in general. Glucose awareness is vital in providing people with an understanding of whether their overall health – not just diabetes – is heading in the right direction and, if not, helping them take the appropriate actions to get it there. Knowing how much time your body spends in a state of elevated blood sugar is useful for therapy titration and monitoring general health and wellness. Knowing more about high glycaemic index foods and how to control glucose excursions through diet is important information.
As for blood pressure, the ability to frequently measure and monitor it non-invasively with wearables will make it possible to better predict the likelihood of having a stroke or a heart attack as well as monitoring an individual for hypertension or overall cardiovascular health. Obviously, that kind of information can be incredibly advantageous for taking the right preventative steps.
In 2023, people will see significant progress toward non-invasive measurement and monitoring of the two biomarkers—glucose and blood pressure—that have the biggest potential impact on their lives, health, and future. That’s a big deal.
2: Wearables will offer vital insight into holistic health
While tracking individual biomarkers is important, it will be even more impactful when we’re able to monitor multiple biomarkers to get a holistic picture of a person’s total health. That will start to be possible in 2023.
For example, a wearable device will be able to monitor biomarkers, including core body temperature, body hydration, blood pressure, alcohol, glucose, and lactose trends, to reveal important clues about an individual’s health. The ability to accurately measure the right biomarkers at the right time will enable a new way of looking at health, providing insights that are not currently possible.
3: Wearables will drive a transition from “sick care” to proactive healthcare
When you go for your annual check-up, you get the standard tests that provide only a snapshot of your body at that moment. It would be far more informative if you could monitor your health continuously and receive immediate alerts of any sudden anomalies. Indeed, that would be a game-changer.
And it’s coming. In 2023, proactive healthcare will be improved. It will be possible for people to monitor a range of vital biomarkers 24/7 and know the state of their health in real-time and act if necessary.
Going forward, wearable technology will be powerful enough to provide people with round-the-clock data on their health, allowing them to better maintain their health based on that data in the long and short term. For example, a wearable device might inform you about changes in your blood pressure, and, armed with that knowledge, you could go to your doctor sooner to find out what is going on and what to do about it.
4: Wearables will take monitoring out of the hospital and into the home
Today, clinics and hospitals use professional-grade biomarker-sensing devices and platforms to monitor patients’ health when they’re on-site or in the hospital. In 2023 and beyond, as those devices and platforms become portable and less intrusive, patients will have access to the same quality of information at their homes.
As telehealth has progressed over the last two years due to the COVID pandemic, access to quality data and insights have been lacking. Remote monitoring will significantly impact resource utilisation within the healthcare system and enable patients to go about their lifestyle as data is being accessed by healthcare providers.
Enabling patients to carry wearables from hospital to home will eventually create a closed loop system. As a patient, if these devices are giving me important, life-improving information when I’m in the hospital, why wouldn’t I carry on using them at home?
5: Wearables with AI will make healthcare more intelligent
Wearables are already collecting volumes of information about consumer’s general health and wellness. In 2023, AI will start to play a larger role in interpreting that data, connecting the dots, and enabling patients and healthcare practitioners to act on it.
This will happen at both a macro and micro level. At the macro level, data captured from hundreds of millions of people can be anonymised, and patterns identified from that data to inform on public health activities. At a micro level, data properly analysed can provide deep insight into a single person’s body to enable personalised care.
Theoretically, this would make it possible to detect the early onset of diseases, physiological or mental, by tracking relevant biomarkers. We will see lots of different AI algorithms for different disease states. Those algorithms could reside in the cloud, pouring over your data day in and day out, checking you’re well and alerting you when you’re not.
In years past, many people bought wearables just because they delivered a stream of exercise and wellness data. And, no doubt, it’s fun and interesting to track your respiratory rate, your steps, and your sleep stats. But in 2023, wearables will move from lifestyle devices to life-changing ones.
Wearables and biomarker sensors will enable you to monitor key aspects of your health in real-time, detect health issues early, and provide personalised health recommendations. This will bring major downstream benefits for your individual health and public health overall.