Wearable in the current healthcare scenario

Dr Prasanna Ganapa
Monday, 27 August 2018

With the discovery of the antibiotics, the infectious disease like Cholera, plague, flu, typhoid etc which was real threat to human became curable within few days of treatment. The key was to identify early and treat with the right antibiotics. The preventive healthcare was through maintaining proper hygiene and aseptic precautions to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

With time and the advancement of healthcare, the lifespan of human has increased, and the disease patterns has changed dramatically. Currently the noncommunicable chronic disease also called as lifestyle disease and cancers are the major concerns. The coming decades is going to see explosion of various lifestyle diseases like Diabetes mellitus, hypertension etc.

The major causes for the rise in the NCDs are the excessive stress levels, lack of adequate rest, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy dietary habits.

Hypertension is a major public health concern with an estimate of 1.6 billion hypertensive patients by the year 2025. 10% of all global healthcare spending will be attributable to high blood pressure and related complications. An eye opening and undesirable truth about high blood pressure is that in India for every 1 known person of high blood pressure there may be possibly be 2 persons with undiagnosed or prehypertension. In the diagnosed patients roughly ¾ of them were on treatment. Only 1/3 of the patients on treatment has adequately controlled blood pressure. To summarise, only 1 in 6 high blood pressure patients are on the right treatment. The rest of them are going to face the complications of the untreated blood pressure. 51% of stroke deaths and 45% of coronary heart disease deaths are due to raised blood pressure.

Diabetes mellitus is another major health concern as India currently represents 49 percent of the world’s diabetes burden. Diabetes with hypertension has lead in many cases to silent Cardiac deaths that is cardiac event without the typical chest pain symptoms. Therefore, monitoring and controlling blood pressure is even more important in diabetes mellitus patients.

Hypertension and DM remains amongst the most important preventable contributors to disease and death. Only medications approach is not the right way. Lifestyle and behaviours change including diet plays a huge role in controlling or preventing high blood pressure. The most cost effective and rational approach is to identify the high blood pressure at the earliest by screening methods like regular health check-ups. Then emphasize the controlling of blood pressure in the desirable level either by medications, non-medications or both interventions.

The preventive healthcare for the current health care situation is to focus on wellness. Ensure that the lifestyle changes are gradually adopted, and this is not going to be easy task. The solutions should also ensure adequate incentives are provided to make the changes in behaviour.

Wearables will be one significant component to encourage the lifestyle modifications in the future. Its important to close all the open ends in terms of wellness tied up to the healthcare spectrum. It should be clinically acceptable, relevant and reliable than just normal non-clinical wearable to monitoring few components like walking, running etc.

The wearables are going to generate significant amount of data which we never had access in the entire history. The data needs to be filtered and intelligent algorithms must be created to extract meaningful information and alert care provider prior to significant event & prevent crisis. not going to be easy for the healthcare who are already overloaded with the care at the manifest stage of complications. They need to be pulled only when needed and present actionable information at the right time. Hopefully wearable is going to play the same role as antibiotics in the era of infectious diseases.