industry update

Wearables: Where Are They Now?

October 29, 2018

By Lisa Varshney
Senior Vice President, Strategic Capabilities

Today’s wearable “smart” technology is… still not-so-smart. The most widely adopted wearables are able to measure a few important vitals—sleep, steps, and heart rate—but they provide a very limited understanding of a patient’s health. Unfortunately, any additional and value-enhancing information (e.g. food intake, weight, blood pressure, glucose levels) relies entirely on the patient to input manually, which is a big ask.

However, new innovation is beginning to deliver on the promise of wearable technology in healthcare:

Omron is launching a smart watch later this year that can effortlessly monitor blood pressure.
– Startup Cardiogram is developing DeepHeart, artificial intelligence algorithms that utilize data from off-the-shelf wearables to predict cardiovascular risk and screen for atrial fibrillation, hypertension, and sleep apnea.
– L’Oréal and La Roche-Posay have launched My UV Patch, a transparent stretchable skin sensor that can monitor and measure exposure to UV rays.
– The FDA approved the first “smart pill” this year, Abilify MyCyte, from Otsuka and Proteus Digital Health. The pill has a tiny ingestible sensor that communicates with a patch worn by patients. The patch transmits data via bluetooth to a smartphone app, where the data can be transferred to their doctor and other medical professionals.
– And wearables are finally connecting with larger platforms that have the power to influence positive health outcomes. Earlier this year, Fitbit launched Fitbit Care, an enterprise health platform that pairs its wearables with virtual health coaching, digital interventions, and an app that allows users to pass along their data to their healthcare providers.

Once wearables truly become “smart,” their impact on the healthcare landscape will be transformative and enable HCPs to monitor treatment efficacy, adherence, and side effects in real time. This will also provide the opportunity—and perhaps responsibility—for life science manufacturers to be able to utilize this data to support the value proposition of their products.