Care Coordination and The Untapped Potential of Wearable Technology?


Today on LinkedIn I ran into this article entitled “The Dark Side of Wearables: Tsunami of Useless Data“. The title does not leave much room for interpretation. They laid out concerns about how to turn wearable data into something actionable. There were several variables including the sheer amount of data, lack of device standardization, and privacy.

Despite these problems, authors argued that wearable technology has a lot of potential and I would agree. To gain any sort of actionable data it needs to be a team sport. This can be achieved on both the clinical and more organizational level.

The key to use of wearable technology data is first establishing a good baseline. Let’s say you are trying to increase the amount of activity after leg surgery. We would need to collect data on steps prior to the surgery. This would establish what some goals might look like post surgery. The physician and anyone else involved in the care team should share and discuss this baseline data. Come up with some realistic and attainable goals post surgery. This will be critical for after the “intervention”.

What I am proposing is a basic A|B|A research design. It is testing the hypothesis that after an intervention one can regain baseline functioning (or something close to it) or improve from baseline. This can be used with an N of 1, or can be scaled to something larger. B being the surgery or any other intervention. This could be heartbeat for someone with anxiety and then introducing new coping skills. Or tracking activity after an intervention for depression.

It can not be said enough how this needs to be done as a team. I picture a visual of care teams huddled around the data. Patient, social worker, physician, and any other specialists involved in the care. Goals established should be realistic, attainable, measurable, and co-created with the patient in the lead.

On a more organizational scale as your are implementing this you would want data scientists, quality assurance, IRB, and if needed other management. The one complex golden thread is privacy. The patient being the leader of the team, owning the data, and following procedures of informed consent should make the data even more actionable.

My concerns about barriers to use are less about the data themselves but more about the device. Would this team based approach to wearable technology work, would everyone “buy-in”? Would clients who could benefit from this, such as people with multiple chronic conditions, be able to have access to wearables?

These are my thoughts on how to make wearable data more useful and actionable, what are yours?


This article was originally published on my LinkedIn page.


8 thoughts on “Care Coordination and The Untapped Potential of Wearable Technology?

  1. It is all about trial and error. So in the beginning it can be done by keeping few patients in mind. With so much useless data in hand it can be difficult in the beginning to come at better decisions. When everything goes well, it can be implemented on a larger scale. Moreover, the number of wearable users also matters when it comes to the success of using it by care team to analyze data. Good article!


  2. Pingback: What Therapists (Ok, Just this One) Are Saying About Mental Health Chatbots – Stuck on Social Work

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