Will Patient Wearables Lead to Fewer Trips to the Doctor?


A recent survey shows that almost two-thirds of patients are willing to swap out wearables for doctor visits.

As much as patients value their doctors, most would gladly cut down on their medical visits if possible. That’s apparent from a recent survey from VivaLNK, a connected healthcare solutions company, which asked patients about their willingness to wear an Apple Watch or other wearable in order to reduce time spent at the doctor’s office.

As it turns out, patients are quite amenable to the idea; 64% of those surveyed responded that they would be willing to use a wearable health monitoring device if they could also reduce the number of times they had to visit a doctor’s office or hospital. That said, 55% of respondents indicated interest in wearables whether or not it cut down on doctor visits, demonstrating that patients across the board have a strong interest in monitoring their own health. In fact, at least 24% of patients are already using a wearable device for that very reason.

As a more convenient, cost-effective solution, wearable devices offer a win-win for both patients and their doctors. So how can healthcare providers go about adjusting to the new trend, and what does it mean for the future of healthcare?

Wearables Make an Impact

Patients’ eagerness to cut down on visits to the doctor is likely due to problems with accessibility. For patients who live in remote areas, who are elderly, or who have health conditions that limit their mobility, a simple errand can quickly become a major obstacle — especially if that person needs to see a specialist.

For these patients, the option of remote monitoring can be life-changing. Medical practices that are willing to take advantage of wearable technology may be able to diagnose and treat patients, monitor vitals, prescribe medications, and more — from anywhere in the world.

In light of the growing consumer interest in wearables, many hospitals and smaller medical practices are taking steps to meet the demand. A recent survey of hospital executives found that 47% of hospitals are providing wearables to patients with chronic diseases, while another 47% are conducting remote monitoring via telehealth devices.

The Future of Wearables in Healthcare

Remote monitoring programs have already seen great success at some forward-thinking hospitals. For example, Vidant Health uses remote monitoring to treat up to 700 patients who are suffering from chronic illnesses. Plus, in 2013, the program enabled the hospital to reduce the volume of in-person visits by 74%.

The success of programs like Vidant’s and the growing interest in wearable technology has spurred other notable growth in the industry. For example, OneLife Technologies, a mobile medical software company, has developed a partnership with AT&T to develop the OnePulse smartwatch, a wearable specifically created for remote patient monitoring. 

Major developments like this indicate that wearable technology may become more accessible for smaller practices very soon. As these tools become increasingly widespread, healthcare providers would be prudent to take advantage of them, as they offer tangible benefits for practices and patients alike.

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