Wearing your health on your sleeve

In previous articles the topic of e-health has come up and specifically how it can help us in our present challenging conditions.
With Covid-19 having been amongst us for more than a year, we are seeing the strain it is taken on all of us; none more so than the healthcare industry and it’s passionate and dedicated workers.

You may well and truly be wearing “health on your sleeve” in the not distant future

E-health has been proffered as a way in which to relieve some of the pressure that the healthcare industry is facing. The over-burdening of healthcare workers, hospitals and the whole infrastructure that is the medical sector cannot sustain the Covid onslaught.
Even with several vaccines being rolled out, the question now is how then, will people, governments, institutions and countries cope?
One solution is to start leveraging technology where possible in the healthcare space. This need and drive has given rise and increased importance to technology called “wearables”.
Wearables or “warables” are where e-health and the Internet of Things (IoT) meet and prove that almost anything is possible with technology.
Wearables are electronic technology or devices integrated into items that can be worn comfortably. The Fitbit and Apple Watch are some of the most obvious examples. These wearable devices are used for tracking information on a real time basis. They have motion sensors, GPS and other clever technology that monitor day to day (sports) activity and sync them with mobile devices or laptops.
The first question people had initially was, “What is it used for and why do we need it?”
This is a question that is often raised when any new tech is introduced.
It started off with Fitbit and Apple Watches monitoring how many steps we take during a day and measuring our heart rate. It soon progressed to being able to monitor our sleep and how much of it we were actually getting. As the tech developed, we now have devices that can send a user’s health information to a doctor or other healthcare professional in real time.

Vital signs
Imagine people with a heart condition being able to not only monitor and check their vital signs, but should any type of irregular heartbeat occur or perhaps more severe event take place, health professionals can be alerted immediately though the device the person is wearing.
Although it may be a while before we see all of this wearable tech in Namibia, we all know someone with a FitBit or a smartwatch who cannot stop declaring loudly how many steps they have taken that day. The 10K steps per day has become somewhat of an obsession for many of us!
Smartwatches are fine and good and prolific in every day society, but it goes much further.
Things called biosensors are up and coming wearable medical devices that are radically different from wrist trackers and smartwatches. For example, the Philips’ wearable biosensor is a patch that you stick onto your body that lets you go about your daily life, whilst data is being collected regarding your movement, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.
The benefit for the people wearing these devices include a less obtrusive way of monitoring their vital signs, being able to go about their daily lives and less invasive examinations. This also relieve pressure on hospitals and doctors and nurses.
Just think if wearables and e-health were integrated into the Namibian healthcare sector – it could relieve stress for and on patients and doctors alike, as well as unburden healthcare facilities, speed up processes, deliver instant diagnostics for patients and doctors, and ultimately assist in saving lives as well as bring down the cost of medical care and therefor medical aid in the future.
You may well and truly be wearing your “health on your sleeve” in the not too distant future, keeping you healthier and unburdening the healthcare sector at the same time.
Stay healthy and safe Namibia!