In recent years the market for consumer-facing wearables has grown steadily. Products such as the smartwatch and fitness bands have contributed significantly to this growth. However, healthcare has been slower to embrace this trend, particularly when it comes to the older demographic. Tech companies have yet to truly tap into the seniors market.
Many wearable trackers and devices are simply not designed for older adults despite the fact that the senior population gets larger every day; the percentage of America’s population who are aged 65 or over is expected to jump to 19 per cent by 2030. If wearables are further developed to take into consideration the differences when tracking the older generation (lower pace activity levels, for example), they could empower senior patients to take active roles in managing their own health, having a really beneficial impact on senior care and population health management.
Remote Patient Monitoring
The use of mobile technology in our daily lives has become habitual and there is no reason why the older population should be excluded from this. There is some distrust from doctors towards the data that is gathered from wearable devices but mobile health wearables that fit into healthcare providers goals are expected to surge in the market in the near future. As the products become more advanced, the functionalities and the importance of the data provided by healthcare wearables will continue to rise. It is expected that the remote patient monitoring segment alone will grow almost 35 percent across the next five years. This is an important development as homecare becomes an increasingly viable care option, with better connectivity to a provider network than ever before, and physicians will be looking for devices that give them insight into a patient's real time progress at home.
Technology is already supporting healthier lifestyles but until recently smart clothes or textiles were not wearable. This is changing, opening the gateway to a realm of new wearables and “smart clothes” that can help monitor the older population’s health and remind them to do things like take medication, track their blood pressure, or prevent serious injuries from falls. Intelligent footwear and shirts are being developed than can help people manage diabetes and stress levels, respectively, fostering healthy independent living and the continuum of care for seniors.
HIPAA Regulations and Wearables
How HIPAA regulations will be applied to wearables going forward is certain to be an area of contention as remote patient monitoring devices become more prominent. It makes sense to think that any organization aggregating data in this way would use a HIPAA compliant system. If the wearable is just being used as a consumer device for personal use, then HIPAA likely won’t be involved. But it becomes more opaque when applying to a situation where there is interaction between an individual, a device or app maker and HIPAA covered entity or business associate.
Ultimately when it comes to senior care, improving patient care and outcomes is the most important element. Mobile health innovations can accelerate healthcare workers in achieving these goals.
Lua's HIPAA compliant messaging solution offers patient-facing secure messaging, allowing users to change/ schedule appointments and contact anyone involved in the care team, whilst remaining HIPAA compliant.