The evolution of information technology is fast. This typically means smaller devices that are usually more powerful, generally more specialized and occasionally less expensive. The replacement for that new cell phone or tablet you just bought is already on the drawing board. The pace of change, which was once led by PC’s, then laptops, tablets, cell phones and portable technologies has arrived at wearable devices. Both Microsoft (Microsoft Band) and Jawbone (UP3) recently announced wearable technologies to measure, track and report health and fitness. They join a full array of competitors including Intel/Basis (Peak), Nike (Fuelband), Samsung (Gear), LG (Lifeband) and Fitbit (Flex). Why so many? Industry projections are that this area will grow by 42% Compound Annual Growth Rate through 2017. CNBC projected 350% growth in smart bands in 2014 alone. Further, 76% of consumers say they would not need their wearable device to replace an existing piece of technology in order to justify its purpose, according to a recent PwC survey. These devices should make consumers more interested in and more comfortable with Wearable Medical Devices which are also on the rise. Examples include (ECG) necklace and Headset, wireless sensor insole, wearable defibrillator, and the potential of Google Glass. Some project wearable technologies to become a multi-trillion dollar industry worldwide (IHS 2013 Whitepaper). A U.S. market that was 6.3 million dollars in 2010 is projected to be 12.6 billion dollars in 2018. This will unquestionably affect information technology departments of hospitals, clinics and physician offices. Just as PC’s, tablets and smart phones needed to be addressed for HIPAA security compliance and technical support, so will the wearable technologies. Next may be implantable information technologies such as an insertable Cardiac Monitor to address unexplained fainting or flat, flexible, stretchable electronic sensors embedded into temporary tattoos. If anyone thought EMR’s were the endpoint of Health Care Information Technology, think again.
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