Steinhubl: Wearable sensors promising, but validation required

Wearables may one day play an invaluable part in reducing stress and anxiety as mobile technology promises to enhance patient care, but greater insight and clinical evidence of such potential benefit is required, Steven Steinhubl, digital medicine program director at Scripps Translational Science Institute, recently told mHealth News.

The cardiologist noted that while emerging devices and wearable sensors pose tremendous possibilities for personalized care, proven results must first be achieved.

"Several wearable and smartphone-based monitors have been developed and are in early-stage testing to evaluate how effectively they identify individual-specific stress responses," Steinhubl told mHealth News. "Not only will this technology allow for people to recognize when they are experiencing unhealthy stress, but most importantly it will enable them to recognize what works best for them in preventing or controlling that response."

He believes the sensor-driven capability to measure disease biomarkers in human lungs could drastically alter diagnoses of everything from infection to cancer, and that non-invasive monitoring will radically improve care in high blood pressure treatment approaches.

The most promising aspect with the advent of mobile health technology, Steinhubl said, is acknowledgment by consumers and developers that evidence is still needed regarding new mobile medical technologies and potential to drive change.

"Early in what has been referred to as the mHealth hype cycle, there seemed to be a more prominent belief among technology developers that healthcare providers and consumers would self-initiate the uptake and expansion of the many great ideas that were being offered," Steinhubl said. "Today, more and more developers are talking to us about their recognition of the importance of going beyond pilot studies and really proving the clinical worth of their technology."

As FierceMobileHealthcare reported in November, a Gartner research report predicts big growth in the mHealth wearables space due to an increasing desire by patients to track health issues and activity and share data with physicians. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute report, meanwhile, stated that true device adoption will only come when developers offer affordable solutions that provide greater value.

Going forward, Steinhubl noted, consumer-focused mHealth vendors will be the force driving technology to the next level.

"These "disruptive" providers will be focused on user convenience as well as improved outcomes, the sweet spot of mHealth," he told mHealth News.

For more information:
- read the mHealth News post

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