Wearables, also known as wearable technologies, are small electronic devices that allow wearers to monitor various health and fitness measurements throughout the day. They have come a long way from simple pedometers and now include more advanced features like heart rate monitoring, sleep pattern analysis, and even the ability to detect falls or cardiac episodes.
However, wearables are not always dependable. In a recent article from The New York Times, My Watch Thinks I’m Dead, it was reported that smartwatches were mistakenly contacting emergency responders while people were skiing due to the device’s misunderstanding of a speeding heart rate or abrupt stop as an indication of trauma. This highlights the fact that while wearables are useful, they are not perfect.
Despite this, there are certain health vitals that wearables can detect that may be of utmost importance to healthcare providers. Atrial fibrillation, respiratory problems, and sleep apnea are among the most crucial ones. If a wearable device detects any of these issues, the wearer should make an appointment with a physician to discuss the alert and perform due diligence to uncover any underlying issues that may have caused it. Providers can also review the data collected by the device to determine the appropriate diagnosis and next steps to take.
Asking patients if they use wearables can also be a good way for providers to gather additional information about their health. This can help uncover concerns or patterns that the patient may have forgotten to mention during the visit.
In conclusion, wearables can be informative, but they should not be solely relied upon. Healthcare providers should use wearables as a starting point to dig deeper into a patient’s health concerns and perform a thorough diagnosis.