As the technology is at its stead fast pace, even the health sector has adopted advanced technology for better lifestyle and health care of the individuals. Health monitoring devices which are improvised as wearables for the consumers proved to be convenient and helpful in monitoring and keeping track of individual’s health.
The characteristics of the health monitoring devices are:
- Data accessibility: these devices store the data which can be accessed by the doctors which can aid them in treating the patient according to the health data obtained from these devices.
- More productive treatment: the devices allow to collect data passively which aids in the further research of the drugs used during the treatment which in turn help in clinical trials.
- Towards Preventive care: these devices provide data which changes the mode of treatment from reactionary care to preventive care.
Even though there are advantages to the adaptation of wearable devices in health care the outcome of the data from these devices remain unclear as these devices are in developing stage. There are two kinds of wearable health monitoring devices presently available in the market:
Commercial wearables: this kind of wearable devices can be synced to the user smartphones and they are mostly fitness trackers in this type which can help users to understand their physical well-being and as well as tracking their progress towards their fitness. These fitness trackers are mostly designed as watches or wrist bands which can track steps taken, calories burnt, heart rate and area travelled (through GPS). Some examples of these commercial wearables are:
- FitBit Aria is the latest smart body weigh scale which has a granted patent (US9433357) 1 which claims a product to detect body weight of the user and calculate BMI and this data can be synced to the user’s smartphone;
- FitBit Surge is a pedometer which has a granted patent (US10132645)2 which claims a process along with the product which calculates the steps taken by the user and keeps track of the distance travelled by the user in a particular time.
Medical wearables: this kind keep the patients aware of their health condition, medications, etc,. These wearables not only help the patients but also assist doctors in treating their patients by storing all the relevant data regarding the reaction of the body system for the prescribed medication by the doctor. Such tracking helps doctor to decide on the suitable medication and treatment for that patient. The main difference between fitness trackers and this kind of medical wearables are that the sensors are located on the patient’s body. Some of the products in medical wearables are:
- Transdermal health patches (patent number US 9700522 3 ). This patent claims both the product (transdermal patch) and process of administering the medication through the claimed product. The claimed product consists of penetration enhancer which enables the medication to be absorbed by the user where the patch is attached to the surface of the user. Here the product claimed is used to administer Vitamin B12 to the user.
- Helius (smart pill by Proteus Digital Health, patent number (US2013193950)4: the patent claims an ingestible circuitry (product patent) which is combined with the drug and embedded as a tablet to help the patient to keep track of their medication, especially for patients suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and is an add-on treatment for depression. This ingestible circuitry which is embedded in the tablet communicates to the patch worn by the patient and this patch then transmits medication data to a smartphone app which the patient can voluntarily upload to a database for their doctor and other authorized persons to see.
- Apple Watch Heart Monitor (patent number US10076257)5: Apple includes a heart monitor in Apple Watch Series 4. the above patent claims a device that is embedded in the configuration of the already built watch that can detect the cardiac signals of the user and can display the heart rate on the display monitor of the watch.
- PIP: this is a biosensor device which holds a patent (EP2131731)6. According to the patent it claims a product which is configured to sense the biometrics from the fingers, including blood oxygenation and skin temperature to calculate stress levels in the user.
- TempTraq (U.S. Application Serial Number 14/587626)7: this patent claims a product which is an actively-powered temperature data logger patch with wireless data communication, where the patch is attached to the surface of the target subject and the data received through the target subject is stored in the device and transferred to the other device through Bluetooth connectivity.
- Qardio Core Wearable: ECG monitor which is wrapped around the chest of the user (patent number USD725276)8. This patent claims a device that senses the tiny electrical charges on the skin arising from the heart muscle’s electrophysiological activity which keep continuous tracking of the heart rate.
- Google Contact Lens (patent number US20160324451)9: this patent claims a product that enables the user (non-diabetic) to keep track of changes in the blood glucose levels from the amount of food and drinks consumed by the user. Through such data log the user can modify their own diet to keep the diabetics off the track.
- Quell Relief (knee braces, patent number US8948876)10: the patent claims a product which treat the pain in the patient through transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This product is worn by the user such that this product is in intact to the surface which is to be treated and the circuitry in the product automatically relieves the user from pain.
- SensoTRACK Ear Sensor (patent number US D808018)11: This patent claims a product which is worn by the user as an earpiece. This product claims this unique device which measures the heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiration rate, and supposedly even blood pressure of the user. It also counts steps, calories burned, senses the user’s speed, activity level, geolocation, altitude, body posture, and pace. All this can be synced to an iOS or Android app which also shares that data with a web portal that offers advanced fitness and health analytics.
Fig. 1: Examples of some wearable health devices. (1) SensoTRACK ear sensor; (2) Google Contact Lens; (3) BioPatchTM; (4) Smartwatch Basis (5) QardioCore; (6) Vital Jacket® t-shirt; (7) Moov (activity tracker)
Fig. 2: Heart activity trackers divided by type of WHD on the body (t-shirt, chest strap or adhesive patch) and purpose of usage (fitness/sport to medical/health). The closer to the medical/health side the higher the accuracy and quality of heart activity is. The characteristics chosen for this separation were based on published devices brand specifications12.
Some other Patents granted for Health-care Monitoring devices:
- Biometric monitoring device having a body weight sensor, and methods of operating same (US2014377729)13
- Wireless human fat measurement and analysis system (CN202044249)14
- Glucose monitoring system with wireless communications (US2010305421)15
- Health monitoring system (US2013095459)16
- Wearable device having feedback characteristics (US2014194781)17
- System and method for a drug delivery and biosensor patch (US2017274146)18
- Wearable monitor (US2017188872)19
- Based smart watch multi-parameter monitoring and health management system (CN104305972)20
Electronics just keep getting smaller and stronger – these WHD (wearable health devices) devices are able to transmit and store data unlike ever before. From past two decades due to rapid growth in technology and increase in economy people are affected with a new kind of disease i.e. lifestyle diseases anxiety disorders hormonal imbalance, sleeping disorders, eating disorders etc., which are inclining the people towards the use of fitness gadgets to track their daily activities. The leading players in the market are Qualcomm, Withings, Jawbone Inc, Fitbit, Wipro GE Healthcare Pvt Ltd and Garmin Ltd. The patient monitoring devices market is projected to reach USD 25.31 Billion by 2023 from USD 19.14 Billion in 2018, at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5.7%.21The medical wearables are effectively producing positive results in preventing greater risks. Hence the market is growing rapidly. So, it is possible in the next decade that common people and the medical field will adopt to the easy and effective accessible health monitoring devices.