Wearable tech vs a doctor

Wearable tech vs a doctor

Can wearable technology diagnose better than a doctor?

Healthcare providers see the need to integrate technology into clinical processes.

Is it worth buying the latest Apple Watch?” a young patient queried last week. He was looking for a way to avoid the traffic snarls and long waits at the hospital. Although a smartwatch armed with ECG is a splendid technological innovation, it cannot be a replacement for a consultation with your doctor.

By itself, data is of little use, unless it’s interpreted accurately. Say, the device tells you that your heart rate is too high — a sign of atrial fibrillation. What do you do next? Endure pangs of anxiety? Share the findings with your cardiologist? Perhaps, go in for an unnecessary treatment?

There’s no denying that IoT is the future for healthcare. Artificial intelligence and data analytics open doors to a brave new world, where healthcare can become more accessible and affordable. More so, for a country like India with a dismal ratio of 0.7 doctors and 1.5 nurses per 1,000 people. When it comes to specialists, the numbers are more worrisome. Studies show that India needs nearly 88,000 cardiologists; we have about 4,000.

Cardiovascular diseases are among the biggest killers in India. In 2016, cardiac ailments killed more Indians than any other non-communicable disease, according to an insightful study published in The Lancet. Deaths due to cardiovascular diseases in India had increased from 1.3 million in 1990 to 2.8 million in 2016. As the risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, obesity and the like continue to grow, there’s a change in the patient profile.

Healthcare providers see the need to integrate technology into clinical processes. For health data to become actionable, certain processes have to be in place. Technology can be a powerful aid in diagnosis and remote monitoring. However, it doesn’t make the doctor redundant.