Wearable health devices can detect and measure an array of physiological changes, including early signs of Lyme diseases and inflammatory responses, according to a Stanford University study published in PLOS Biology.
The researchers were able to use the data to develop a framework for identifying abnormal physiological signals, which could facilitate the detection of diseases.
Their results suggest that wearable health devices could provide an avenue for managing the health of people who experience socioeconomic and geographically-based barriers to care.
Wearable health devices have not yet fulfilled their potential as predicted. Even though the market is growing, obstacles remain, such as consistent use, cost and users’ willingness to share their personal data. In addition, results have been inconsistent; one recent study found that people using a website to track their weight loss actually lost more weight than those using wearable devices.
Yet more workplace wellness programs, which are generally supported by employees, are beginning to incorporate wearable health devices. The importance of activity for good health is widely acknowledged, but like so many health initiatives, the trick with workplace wellness programs is motivating people to stay engaged. In the face of these uncertainties, the Stanford researchers chose to explore a different kind of use for mobile devices, with promising results.
The study examined a variety of devices, taking an in-depth look at one man’s experience and analyzing measurements for a group of up to 43 individuals. Most notably, they found circadian differences, changes related to airline flights, and physiological differences between people who are insulin resistant and those who are not. Their results suggest a broader, and potentially more meaningful purpose for adopting mobile devices and using them as a clinical, rather than fitness, tool.