A plethora of health apps and devices are constantly under development due to the trend of increasingly health-conscious consumers. Wearable technology has especially generated a lot of attention and success over the past several years. The concept of wearable technology was popularized by fitness trackers and bands which include products such as Fitbit and Nike+, which are essentially graduated pedometers that allows integration of the fitness tracking device to the user’s smartphone.The success in fitness trackers is due to several reasons: it fulfills our need to be constantly connected by giving us real-time updates and the ability to share our data with others; it reinforces our good behavior by buzzing when a goal is achieved, this variable reinforcement schedule is the very idea behind why gambling is addicting; lastly it promotes overall wellness on top of fitness by incorporating additional features such as sleep and heart rate monitoring.
The influence technology has had on motivating people to maintain physical fitness is the inspiration to many wearable devices that aid in the management of other health conditions such as Google’s “smart” glucose-sensing contact lenses(3), QardioCore’s wireless and patchless ECG monitor(4), BodyTrak’s in-ear vitals monitoring device(5), and a non-invasive glucose monitoring patch that is capable of blood sugar monitoring and painless insulin delivery(6).
Tracking and collecting data is now easier than ever, translating this data into meaningful and useful information is the next step. This is the idea behind Neura, a software development kit (SDK) that enhances medication management apps and devices through the use of artificial intelligence to analyze and translate data into actionable insights7. For example, a medication reminder app enhanced with Neura has the ability to sense when the user wakes up, and will deliver the alert upon the user’s waking. This can aid in changing behavior, following doctor’s orders more closely and building healthier habits which results in increased adherence and improved general wellness.
Wearable technology can be a positive enabling tool for patients to monitor and track their own metrics to manage their health conditions. As technology continues to advance at such as pace, it is critical for health-care systems, including pharmacy, to learn how to leverage digital health information to help guide care. It is crucial for pharmacists to get involved with technology, especially at the developmental stages; incorporating a pharmacist’s input into the development of apps, programs, and devices allows us to build technology that works for us rather than against us.
Posted by Astrid Thio, PharmD Candidate 2018
- 50 Years of Moore’s Law. Intel. Accessed 20 March 2017. http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/silicon-innovations/moores-law-technology.html
- Kurzweil, Ray. The Age of Intelligent Machines. 1990;11. Accessed 20 March 2017. http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-age-of-intelligent-machines-chapter-11-the-impact-on
- Google Secures Patent for Glucose-Sensing Contact Lens. DiaTribe.org. Published 16 April 2015. Accessed 19 March 2017. https://diatribe.org/google-secures-patent-glucose-sensing-contact-lens
- QardioCore. Medical-Grade Wireless ECG. Accessed 19 March 2017. https://www.getqardio.com/qardiocore-wearable-ecg-ekg-monitor-iphone/
- BodyTrak. Accessed 19 March 2017. http://www.bodytrak.co/
- Wearable Graphene-Based Biomedical Device to Monitor and Combat Diabetes. Institute for Basic Science. Science Daily Website. Published 21 March 2016. Accessed 21 March 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160321123702.htm
- Leveraging AI, Neura uses Other Apps to Boost Medication Adherence. MedCityNews. Published 9 February 2017. Accessed 21 March 2017. http://medcitynews.com/2017/02/397186/