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Wearable Devices Impact Heart Health Remote Monitoring

The wearable devices being developed come in the form of a vest, which is capable of finding abnormal clinical cardiac functions while a smartwatch is used to determine any rhythm abnormalities.

By Vera Gruessner

- More healthcare providers have been looking toward incorporating wearable devices and remote monitoring tools into improving the health outcomes of their patient base as well as reducing hospital readmission rates. For instance, researchers at UMASS Medical School are creating new methods for remotely and noninvasively tracking the health of patients with serious cardiac conditions, according to a news release from the university.

Remote Monitoring Tools

The use of wearable devices in order to monitor these patients is hoped to improve their health and wellness as well as cut the rate of emergency room visits. Researchers from UMASS Medical School, the University Of Connecticut School Of Engineering, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University are teaming up in order to create and test wearable devices that can monitor patients’ heart health and any potential complications.

The National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Health Program is funding the research through a grant. The wearable devices being developed come in the form of a vest that the patients can put on. The vest is capable of finding abnormal clinical cardiac functions while a smartwatch is used to determine any rhythm abnormalities that may bring serious risks to a patient’s life.

At this moment in time, an observational study is being conducted to gather patient data from the use of these wearable devices and develop computer programs capable of analyzing the information in a quantitative, results-driven format. It is hoped that the computer programs can help identify at-risk patients.

Some of the benefits for patients who use these wearable devices is that they can remain at home instead of being stuck at the hospital for weeks on end. For the provider community, this would also save on healthcare costs.

According to Dr. David McManus, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and Associate Professor of Quantitative Health Sciences,  the wearable devices will inform both patients and physicians of any potential abnormalities with a patient’s heart condition and lead these individuals to seek medical attention well before any serious complications occur.

Through funding from the NIH and the Department of Defense and Industry, Dr. McManus has participated in multiple projects based on creating and testing wearable devices among the patient population.

For instance, he’s worked on sensors and wearable garments capable of monitoring cardiac dysfunction and heart failure. This type of research on wearable devices seems to be growing across the globe.

According to a forecast from eMarketer, the wearable devices market will experience “double-digit growth” over the next few years. This particular prediction is based on the number of Americans using wearables, which in the past year has reached 39.5 million due to the proliferation of smartwatches and fitness tracking devices. This was an increase of 57 percent since 2014. The eMarketer forecast predicts that these numbers will rise to 81.7 million users by 2018.

“There have been a number of news stories recently that claim Fitbit is dead and that activity trackers have peaked and are on the decline,” Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Vice President, Connected Health at Partners HealthCare System, told “I don’t actually believe that. I think activity trackers are quite powerful. As I’ve said though, they’ve got to be paired with some kind of motivational messaging that keeps you engaged long-term.”

“In the fitness and wellness space, people generally are pretty engaged with their own motivation. Really, any tracking for most of those folks is powerful because they love numbers and they love to achieve goals.”


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