Healthcare wearables could ease burden on NHS

Experts suggest that the Internet of Things could help with patient overcrowding

Doctor NHS

Healthcare wearables could be the answer to an overburdened NHS, experts told attendees at Paris' Connected Conference 2016.

Medical services across the globe are becoming increasingly stretched, and nowhere is this more evident than in Britain, where health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been battling over junior doctors' pay and conditions for months.

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Patients are having to wait longer and longer before seeing a doctor, but Graham Rittener, founding partner of Zinc, said that the answer to this problem could lie in wearable devices and the Internet of Things.

He agreed that the NHS is having trouble coping with the current demand placed on it. "It's creaking," he said; "it's struggling". The system is overtaxed, he explained.

"A huge part of that is actually at the GP level, where you've got people going to GPs for any sort of ache, pain, whatever... That's one area where we could really help with things like wearables."

According to Julian Penders, co-founder and COO of healthcare wearable company Bloom, another key area for wearables is the elimination of the healthcare industry's spiralling costs.

"There's too much cost spend in hospital, too much cost spend in current healthcare," he said. "It has to change, but it cannot change through the existing channels."

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A move towards pro-active, preventative healthcare, where patients take ownership of their own health, could really help eliminate hospitals' spending, Penders argued.

"Not every single person can be treated by a doctor," he pointed out. "There's no bandwidth for that." He reassured that wearables are "not cutting out the doctor... we're just being more efficient in using the doctor for what he's good at, which is treatment."

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