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Connecting the Dots: Wearables, Big Data and Healthcare

July 06, 2017

When it comes to wearables, consumers focus on how fashionable the product 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 wearables do more than help them look stylish and improve personal health, they may redefine how healthcare is personalized to each individual.  

It all comes down to data running on an ecosystem – one that is connected by the internet of things (IoT), blockchain and machine learning. Frost & Sullivan estimates that by 2025, these systems will converge in healthcare. The patient data within this ecosystem will be collected using wearables and connected devices and managed with blockchain to ensure full integrity. 

But big data in healthcare is nothing new. Just in recent years, organizations have been building their own software to combine data such as electronic clinical notes, claims data, patient demographics, self-reported health assessments and pharmacy data to make predictions of patient behavior. As the ecosystem expands, wearables are a natural fit that could provide patients and their caretakers with critical information. Personalized healthcare information can lead to truly personalized care. 

But with all things that involve IoT, big data and the sensitive nature of healthcare information, there are concerns amongst industry leaders, with some outstanding questions outlined by TechTarget

  • Will third-party hackers have easy access to all this information? Are the newly networked medical devices secure? 
  • How will the regulatory compliance for devices be handled as millions can suddenly come online? 
  • How will the challenges of new data be solved, considering existing data is already difficult to process? 
  • How will we handle the terabytes of data that may skew known patterns and trends?  

Markets and Markets estimates the global IoT healthcare market will hit $41.22 billion in 2017, while HIT Infrastructure, expects this number to reach more than $135 billion with a 21.2 percent CAGR by 2025.   

That is 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 app. The platform includes everything from "real-time and predictive analytics, role-based daily metric dashboards, wellness registries and chronic disease registries." It is also known to benchmark patients against national averages and connects with wearables and home devices for data.   

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. 

Connecting the dots is not all about the data and the healthcare industry. Device manufacturers play an important role in the mix. In a recent effort to tackle the issue of patients not adhering to long-term therapies for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Nypro (A Jabil Company) explored how connected devices can help.  

“Smart drug delivery systems hold the promise of personalized medicine as they take advantage of the medical “Internet of Things” to drive significant improvements in medication adherence, patient care and, ultimately, health outcomes,” says Conor Mulcahy, Senior Director of Strategic Projects at Nypro, in his recent article. “When it comes to chronic disease management, connected drug delivery is the key to modifying behaviors and reducing unnecessary healthcare costs.” 

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. 

But at the center of the wearable-data-healthcare and connected device 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. Read Mulcahy's article to learn how Jabil is making a difference in smart drug delivery