Technology & Your Health

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So, what does Dr. Clyde Yancy,  Chief of Cardiology at Northwestern Medicine, and former president of the American Heart Association have in common with our own Living Healthy Chicago host Jane Monzures? At least one thing that we know of: they wear a digital fitness tracking bracelets.

But they’re certainly not the only ones. Wearable technology has become a cultural phenomenon with innovations such as the FitBit and Jawbone bracelets becoming  prevalent for tracking steps, sleep, and workouts. As it turns out, the wearable tech craze has huge potential beyond our every day lives. In fact, it has profound implications for our healthcare system.

“Think about how we’ve always practiced medicine. You may see a patient 3 or four times in a year’s time and on those 3 or 4 isolated visits, you make critical decisions. So, wearable tech, from the purview of a physician, opens up the opportunity to have real-time data inputs about our patient,” Dr. Yancy says.

One such device  is the Health Patch MD.  Eric Selvik, Vice President, Vital Connect, INC. explains, “It essentially has a chip that has a lot of very advanced electronics and algorithms that take measurements of your body and compute the vital signs from that.”

But this device isn’t quite like your FitBit, “A lot of the wearable devices are really good for if you want to just track your steps and your motion and this wellness. This device is really a medical device…Devices like these have been shown to catch up to 60 percent more arrhythmias (or problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat) than current technology.”

While Dr. Yancy notes that it’s important to pursue continued research about the validity and reliability of device-provided data, he sees it as having the potential to change the face of his profession. “This is disruptive technology. Once wearable tech can give you reliable heart rate inputs, that’s so radically different from what we’re doing now and for so much less money,” he says.

And this potential translates to consumer technology too. Andrew Kolman, of Johnson Health Tech, doesn’t see any signs of a slowdown. “A UK study found that by 2018, there will be 70 million wearable devices in circulation. But when you look at health and fitness apps today, there are over 40, 000 apps available,” he says.

Dying to know what apps and gadgets our experts using to track their health? Check out the video below.



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