Blame it on the pandemic if you’d like (it surely has played a role), but a major shift in health and wellness is upon us. Today, the population is repositioning its focus from reactive care to preventive care. Wellness is no longer strictly about diet and fitness. Of course, our TVs are equipped with the latest in voice commands and assistants to call up that workout program; but, across the board, individuals are taking a proactive approach to preventive health through various means.
Consumers at the Center of Heath
Consumers want to track information once only obtained from a doctor, playing a more interactive role in their health. This want has been addressed in the Apple Watch and Fitbit smartwatch as well as in a plethora of apps now available.
“It is about radically interoperable data so that the consumer can own their well-being journey and be better empowered to find systems and solutions,” says Lynne Sterrett, National Consulting Leader for Life Sciences & Health Care Practice-Deloitte LLP
We are already seeing these technologies in the world of IoT with smart refrigerators and toilets, says Sterrett. “We need consistent, omnipresent, always-on systems that will gather data and lead to consumer action.
“I feel this period of reflection around COVID-19 has shown huge shifts in innovation that happened rapidly and have accelerated the future of health.”
For example, some of those innovations can be found in wearables that target blood pressure monitoring. Omron has developed HeartGuide, which is, reportedly, the first, clinically accurate, wearable blood pressure monitor.
Sleep as the Fifth Vital Sign
The sleep monitoring portion of wearables is becoming increasingly prevalent. “Sleep affects your immune system,” says Dr. Mehmet Oz, of The Dr. Oz Show. “Lack of sleep means you will have a harder time recovering from illness and will not be able to fight new ones. If you sleep less than six hours a night you are four times more likely to develop a cold. Sleeping the right amount every night make you less vulnerable to colds once infected.
“A COVID infection that progresses to a more serious state might be detected earlier if someone could monitor their breathing rate, or breaths per minute,” Oz explained.
Checking this breathing rate, especially when sleeping, could alert you to negative changes in your wellness. And apps like Sleepscore are placing this knowledge in consumers’ hands.
“People are working harder and sleeping less,” agrees Michael Chapp, COO of Oura Health, which produces the Ring. The product has seven sensors as well as a battery embedded inside that monitor heart rate, motion and continuous skin temperature. It delivers personalized sleep and overall health insights through its app.
Because the pulse signal in the finger is 100 times stronger than the wrist, where most wearables are, Chapp says, the Ring can create a clear image of pulse. From that, it can more accurately calculate resting heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV) and respiratory rate.
With cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia so prevalent in our society, “the future is being able to identify when these diseases occur” before a catastrophic event.
Stephanie is the Senior Managing Editor for Connected Design.