Wearable Tech and Its Implications for Chronic Disease Management

The management of chronic diseases — diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental health conditions, and others — has proven to be one of the great challenges for the modern clinician. Overworked clinicians, inability to schedule regular visits, and a lack of patient engagement in the care plan are just a few factors that make the management process complicated.

However, new advances in wearable technology have the potential to transform the way clinicians and patients are able to manage chronic conditions.

The Little Picture: New and Forthcoming Devices

While there are plenty of devices entering the healthcare technology market, the three below stand out for their innovation and for the potential advantages they can bring to both clinicians and patients.

Smart Contact Lenses

Nonadherence to a care plan is a common challenge among diabetic patients. Part of the problem arises from the fact that the disease requires ongoing, daily monitoring of blood sugar levels. These levels are monitored largely through fingerstick blood tests that are performed daily, or even several times a day.

Wearable technology may change all that. According to Time magazine, Google recently received a patent for “smart contact lenses.” They have a sensor that can monitor glucose levels in a patient’s tears embedded between layers of the contact. The contact lenses will be able to offer continuous management of blood sugar levels by transmitting the information to both the patient and the doctor, and thereby help the patient’s team monitor the current care plan.

Ingestible Sensors

As with diabetics, compliance to a care plan can be an issue for those struggling with a mental health disorder. A new, ingestible device may be able to ameliorate this problem. Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka and tech company Proteus Development Health have joined together to create an ingestible device to monitor patients suffering from various illnesses. The device combines the drug Abilify with an ingestible sensor that is programmed to gather information on patient’s medicine intake and physiological response. The sensor then transmits that information to the patient and — with the patient’s permission — to healthcare providers and the patient’s caregivers.

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