Ryan Shaw, associate professor, recently published an opinion editorial article entitled "Wearable Health Technologies: Where are we with Clinical Utility?" in MedTech Boston. Tyler Meathe, Pratt Engineering student, was a co-author of this article.
People are increasingly turning to digital health devices to monitor their health daily, thanks to the ubiquity of cellphones. More than 95 percent of the U.S. population owns a cellphone, and more than 77 percent owns a smartphone. These tools allow the direct capture and transmission of health data from individuals in their everyday environments across geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Sensors embedded in smartphones, Fitbits, Apple Watches and phone-tethered glucometers collect the data and transmit it via Wi-Fi or cell services. Mobile health (mHealth) apps and text messaging enable individuals to return survey data to researchers in real time. Sensors in the environment can monitor homes for temperature, particulate matter, light exposure and so forth. Perhaps most important, these tools capture data over time, which provides valuable insights into the health of individuals involved in a treatment regimen or research projects. Nevertheless, the usefulness and utility of mHealth apps and wearables in clinical practice is still emerging. Validity and utility of these devices vary, and their integration into electronic health record (EHR) systems is happening only gradually.