Wearables & Big Data: The value of trends

Wearables are the new black

It seems like wearables and their related apps are here to stay. One study claims that by 2020, 40% of IoT-related technology will be in the health category, with a $117 billion estimated market. The world of wearables is invaluable for giving individuals additional tools to take charge of their conditions, “health selfies” that provide a complete picture of their physical state. Patients have an unprecedented ability to monitor their status, easily identify any aberrations and to inform the relevant healthcare professionals in the event of any concern.

Practical applications

There are lots of wearables for common conditions that can bolster conventional care channels. For example, diabetic patients can wear socks and shoes with embedded thermal and pressure sensors that highlight areas of the feet that have insufficient blood supply. Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can use a wearable that collects data such as physical activity/inactivity, respiratory indication, heart rhythm and heart rate variability, which is then sent to the care team via the cloud. Asthma suffers will benefit from systems that monitors respiratory health and records medication use.

Extend care and lower costs

Wearables can open options for care. The ability to share information remotely is particularly important for the elderly and for patients who have difficulty getting to the doctor. Transmission of real-time, high quality data can reduce the number of on-site check-ups and evaluations that are required. Clinicians benefit as well: Having patients connected to wearables can eliminate certain administrative and clinical costs.

Trending now

What role, if at all, can wearables play in the world of big data? One academic study framed the concept of big data in the following way: “While many definitions have been proposed, the common denominator seems to include the “three V’s”—Volume (vast amounts of data), Variety (significant heterogeneity in the type of data available in the set), and Velocity (speed at which a data scientist or user can access and analyze the data).” This combination provides a fourth “V”: Value in the form of trends. The large data sets that wearables provide give healthcare professionals, researchers and patients insight into trajectories and can pave the way for predictive analytics.

Here at CLEW, for example, we saw that machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) could mine valuable insights from the vast amount of data generated in critical care units. Our platform utilizes innovative predictive models derived from Big Data analysis and advanced high high-dimensional analytics techniques to track all three stages of the patient’s ICU stay:

  • Critical: Early predictive warnings of complications
  • De-escalation: Improvement indications
  • Stable: Readiness for discharge

CLEW can match a patient’s history and current vital signs with knowledge from thousands of other patients in similar situations to predict the patient’s trajectory more accurately than an overworked doctor or nurse can, illustrating the value of evidence-based medicine.

Recent technological innovations have found the key to efficient use of healthcare data. Patients today gain from the accumulated knowledge that preceded them as well as powerful minute to minute analysis. As wearables proliferate and become increasingly more sophisticated, they will contribute to a growing repository of information that can help improve patient care.