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How Many Steps Does it Take to Run in a Circle?

The obvious parallel between wearables and digital health is no new discovery. Ever since technology started monitoring heart rate, counting steps and tracking sleep patterns, forward thinking physicians, and discerning Silcon Valley developers have noted the potential to help improve the lives of chronically ill patients using wearable tech.

Arm full of fitness trackersBut in the last five years, wearables have found a more easily accessible home on the track and field rather than in a doctor’s office or hospital. Indeed, almost half of all the wearables on the market today are dedicated to fitness tracking, while medical wearable devices only comprise about 16% of the total market.

Fitness tracking is a worthy use of wearable technology, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of consumer benefit. “Getting the data is much easier than making it useful,” said Deborah Estrin, a professor of computer science and public health at Cornell University.

“Constantly measuring heart rate may be helpful for someone heavily involved in sports or someone at risk of a heart attack. But it’s unclear how important and meaningful it is for the everyday person,” she said.

So if the average person can only benefit marginally from most of the generic wearable metrics, what good is the data? Well, maybe it’s not so much the data that is misplaced, but the people who are using it.

It’s not just the data that seems of little use, but activity and lifestyle devices altogether prove of little importance to fitness junkies and tech savvy twenty-somethings. More than half of US consumers who have owned an activity tracker no longer use it. A third of them took less than six months from unboxing to tossing it in a drawer.

Where do Wearables Belong?

In an article featured in Wired Magazine, author J.C. Herz emphasizes the growing confusion in the wearables market. Passionately she points out the disparity between who wearables are being marketed to and who they would actually help.

“People with chronic diseases don’t suddenly decide that they’re over it and the novelty has worn off. Tracking and measuring—the quantified self—is what keeps them out of the hospital. And yet there are more developers who’d rather make a splash at a hackathon than create apps and devices for people who can benefit hugely from innovation in this area.”

According to a fightchronicdisease.org study, chronic diseases affect more than 133 million Americans (45% of the population), and are the leading cause of death in the United States. Furthermore, these preventable diseases account for the vast majority of health spending in the US, making up about 75% of the $2 Trillion annual healthcare spend.

The metrics that mean so little to the average Joe, are critical and potentially lifesaving to the chronically ill. So why aren’t more developers and companies taking advantage of this growing, and lucrative market? That’s a blog post for another day, but simply put, it’s a monunmental task

Developing apps and wearables for the chronically ill presents a specific and daunting roadblock: Privacy. Navigating the labyrinth that is the FDA approval process and complying with complex HIPPA privacy laws is no small undertaking, but a necessary undertaking nonetheless.

HZO & Critical Devices

Measuring vital signs and common body metrics are crucial for the health and well-being of the chronically ill. Missed or inaccurate measurements, can quite literally be the difference between life and death for these people. So a fully functional and dependable device is an absolute must.

HZO was founded on the principle that electronics need to be reliable in any environment, at any time, without exception. Every day HZO engineers, chemists and our technical staff work tirelessly to improve our processes, refine our thin film technology all with one goal in mind; offer unmatched water and corrosion protection for electronics.

When it comes to life saving, critical devices, only one protection can offer the reliability and dependability that is required; HZO.

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