Research Highlights Potential of Wearables

CAST | March 14, 2017 | by Donna Childress

Patterns in data collected from wearable technology may predict health events.

Today’s wearable technology has come a long way since the days of the pedometer. It can not only monitor activity trends, but also predict adverse health events, says new research.
 
Moulay Elalamy, vice president of information technology for CAST Business Associate Benchmark Senior Living, and J. Patrick Bewley, CEO of Big Cloud Analytics, recently studied the potential that wearable technology has to improve the lives of older adults. They shared the research results at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s 2017 conference in Orlando, FL.
 
The study followed 600 older adults nationwide as they wore a Garmin Vívosmart HR activity tracker. The trackers were set up in older adults’ apartments. Each tracker was tethered to a tablet, which then sent the data the device collected to Big Cloud’s analytics platform.
 
The study results emphasized the potential that wearable technology has for monitoring activity trends and predictively mapping adverse events, particularly related to cardiovascular data, according to an article published in HealthTech on Feb. 22, 2017, HIMSS 2017: For Senior Living, Wearables Demonstrate Growing Importance.
 
Analyzing the data collected from Benchmark residents who were later hospitalized revealed deviations from the residents’ normal patterns. Examples include a sleep heart rate above 90 beats per minute and a change in sleep patterns. These factors were precursors to events like falls, blood clots, stomach bleeds, urinary tract infections, and slurred speech.
 
At this point, however, the data analysis is not a medical process. “We’re not saying, ‘Hey, because of this data we can trigger assessments,’” Elalamy told HealthTech. “We can get there, and ideally we’d like to get there, but we’re not making this a triggering event yet.”
 
Also at HIMSS, Ken Smith, a senior research scholar and director of the mobility division at the Stanford Center on Longevity in California, suggested that we are entering Phase 3 of wearables. Phase 3 is a new age of optical methods that measure biofeedback mechanisms such as heart rate and blood pressure. Ultimately, these capabilities will lead to 24-hour monitoring and a holistic assessment of a patient's day. In addition, Smith predicted that in the future, wearables will track internal body noises and from there predict mood and depression.

For additional information about wearable and other activity monitoring technology, please check out the CAST Functional Assessment and Activity Monitoring Tool.