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Connecting the Dots: Wearables, Big Data and Healthcare

When consumers think about wearables, they focus on how fashionable that smartwatch appears, obsessing over which brands to purchase and which colors to choose. Whether they’re tracking steps to lose weight or training for a marathon, chances are, style matters. But what many consumers might not realize is that these cool wearable devices might not only improve personal health, they may improve the healthcare industry in general. And it all comes down to data.

That’s how the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and UPMC Insurance plan view healthcare. Building their own software, they combined all sorts of heterogeneous data such as electronic clinical notes, claims data, patient demographics, self-reported health assessments and pharmacy data to make predictions of patient behavior. Right now, they’re using it to predict things like which patients that contract the flu will need to be admitted to the hospital. As wearables become part of this equation, the data could be added into the system to make even better predictions.

That’s why Epic, a leading electronic health records company, has been partnering with wearable device and smartphone companies to integrate data into its electronic health record for patients through its MyChart app. Epic’s customers include the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Kaiser Permanente. So, while the trend is just beginning, key players are partnering to pave the way for getting wearable data securely into patient medical records.

With more than one billion adults worldwide classified as obese and at increased risk for disease, the data collected from wearables could help a lot of people manage everything from monitoring weight loss progress to sharing vitals with a doctor.

To meet this need, companies are beginning to develop wearable devices certified by regulatory agencies and even prescribed by doctors. Perhaps the start of a trend, Philips has partnered with Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands to create a medical-grade wearable device targeted at people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Then, Philips tapped Salesforce to build the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that developers could use to build all sorts of apps.

When the device becomes available, it would feed data collected from patients at home to caregivers through the Philips cloud-based HealthSuite Digital Platform to two FDA-approved clinical applications.

And this is the kind of innovation that will continue to drive this growing market. According to an IDC report, the Internet of Things (IoT) IT market for remote health monitoring will grow from $8.2 billion in 2014 to over $12.4 billion in 2018.

With the rise of cloud-based technologies, wearable devices will certainly someday make much of your device-recorded health metrics available to healthcare professionals. When combined with lab diagnostics and other medical information, your continuously monitoring wearable data becomes part of your electronic medical record. Ultimately, your doctor will have more information to not only keep you healthy, but to help detect medical problems as they develop.

At the center of the wearable-data-healthcare ecosystem lies manufacturing. Wielding the world-class engineering expertise required to optimize wearable devices for manufacturing at scale, Jabil’s diversified manufacturing services experts peer into the future of healthcare to deliver the services our customers need when they need them. We help connect the dots between wearables, big data and healthcare.

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