ORLANDO, Fla. – Fitness trackers have been a popular accessory for runners and athletes for a few years now. The bracelets use biometric sensors to measure everything from the distance you run to the calories you burn, and they are getting better all the time.
But it's the future of this so called "wearable technology" that has health industry insiders excited.
Dr. Bob Duggan, an Orlando foot and ankle surgeon with Physicians Associates, relies on his patients to tell him how they're feeling. He looks forward to a day when he'll have those answers before they ever enter an exam room.
He says wearable technology will do that.
"It's not too much of a stretch to expect someone with a watch coming in and saying, 'Oh, I want to give you my blood pressure measurements from the last month,' and they download it as they sign in for an appointment," he said.
Duggan says we're about to enter a new era in wearable technology. Better sensors are being developed that can track a greater number of parameters.
Technology giants Apple, Samsung and Google, among others, are entering the wearables market, putting their research dollars behind health tech.
"The gold standard is being able to non-invasive measure blood sugar," Duggan said. "If they had a non-invasive way to measure that, to be able to acquire that information and to seamlessly send that information to their physician, who could bring that up as an alert on their chart, that would be great."
Duggan says that as wearable technology moves from a focus on fitness to a focus on health care, more of us will benefit from improved features.
"It's like any other technology. We sort through the usefulness both for the patients and then for the physician, and when the perfect mesh of that technology shows up, that's a really good thing. That's a huge advantage for the patient," he said.
Optimism aside, it may be a challenge to get people to wear them. A recent poll by consulting firm Endeavour Partners found 34 percent of people who bought smart wearable devices abandoned them after six to 12 months.
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