Guest Column - March/April 2015

A Revolution in Wellness

Tele-Medicine & Incentives

By Peter Adanalian


The two most talked about categories at this year's Consumer Electronics Show were drones and wearable activity and medical devices. While drones are an exciting, relatively new area, they will never be as big as anything in the healthcare industry. According to Forbes Magazine, the U.S. healthcare industry is now more than $3 trillion in size.

At CES, wearable device companies filled almost half of the upper floor of the Sands Conventions Center in Las Vegas. Many companies were showing their new Bluetooth activity trackers, heart rate monitors, blood pressure monitors, scales and more. Some devices will warn you when you are getting too much sun while on the beach; some will remind you to turn down the lights an hour before bedtime so your body has a chance to relax and you can sleep more soundly. Want to wake up at 7 a.m.? Your wearable can monitor your sleep patterns and only wake you when you are not in a deep sleep. It will make your whole day better if you wake up out of a light sleep.

The best-selling devices currently are activity bracelets. Fit Bit and Jawbone are probably the biggest players at this point, but there are many competitors coming with devices sporting sophisticated sensors that will give the average consumer more data about their body than they ever thought possible. One activity bracelet, the GoBe by HealBe, is coming to market very soon and claims to be so accurate at counting calories that shortly after you drink a Coca-Cola, the 150 calories you consumed will show up on the display. It reads the glucose in your cells in real time. It also measures your heart rate and blood pressure.

Most activity trackers feature pedometers (steps taken), calories burned (based on your BMR, or basal metabolic rate, which is calculated using your height, weight, age and gender) and sleep tracking (when in sleep mode, the sensor knows if you toss and turn and how often). This data can be synced and tracked by the application associated with your Apple or Android device.

Up until just recently, this data has only been for personal use. But now, there is a new service that is at the forefront of the healthcare industry. WearMD.com will receive your data through the Internet to their HIPAA Compliant Cloud (HIPAA is a federal law that addresses the saving, accessing and sharing of medical and personal information of any individual and is regulated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) and their group of certified doctors will analyze the data. Should they see any aberrations based on the information you give them when you register and set up your EMR (electronic medical record), they will report these to your primary physician. WearMD monitoring turns your wireless activity bracelet, blood pressure monitor, blood glucose tester and others into powerful medical devices that could possibly save your life.

Like the fax machine changed the way we communicate the written word and the cell phone gave us the freedom to communicate from almost anywhere in the world, WearMD and other services of its kind will transform the medical industry.

Very soon, you might not need to go to the doctor for a regular checkup. Just strap on your activity bracelet, upload your vitals through a secure connection to your online primary care physician and wait a very short time to get the encrypted results back. If you need more care, only then will you need to physically go to a medical office.

The medical industry is changing before our eyes. Future devices will offer two-way communication. Your uploaded data will be analyzed and a response will be sent back to your device with suggestions like walk more, don't forget to take your medicine, drink more water or maybe even, "You've been awake for 16 hours—it's time for bed!"