How wearable technology fuels women’s health

30 January 2014 | Sarah Muckler, Director of Health Marketing, Worldwide

Can a woman have it all?

I’m not sure. But I do know that without technology, there isn’t even a chance. 

Take my life: This morning, like every morning, I threw on my Fitbit, cranked Pitbull (the musician, not the dog) on my Windows Phone’s Pandora app, and connected to Microsoft Sync for my commute. At the office, my device reliance continued as I synced my OneNote notebooks and jumped on Lync for my first meeting. Afterward, while running to the next meeting, I posted news of the latest Microsoft in Health blog post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yammer, checking on my phone’s social media apps that the announcements showed up.

All of this was before 10 A.M. Sound familiar?

I can’t imagine how, as a full-time working mother, I’d get it all done without my technology. First it was mobile devices and apps, and now wearable technology is exploding onto the scene, promising to make women’s lives even easier. I can’t run without my Garmin telling me how fast or how far I’ve gone. And I use Fitbit every day to compete with my mother, who still beats me at over 40,000 steps a day.

The stats on wearable devices are impressive. Credit Suisse analysts say that within five years the market could reach $50 billion. By 2017, there will be almost 170 million wearable devices on the market, according to EE Times. And it’s not just consumers who will benefit. It’s estimated that 20 percent—34 million—will be for remote patient monitoring and onsite professional healthcare use.

When I think of wearable devices in healthcare, right away I think of a couple scenarios:

  • Wearable fetal heart monitoring devices. One was developed recently by WiPro, a Microsoft partner in India. This remote sensing device collects and transmits real-time health data back to pregnant women’s doctors, who can access it any time from their hospitals or tablets. What peace of mind this would have given me when, during my first pregnancy, I was put on bed rest. With millions of stillbirths every year around the world, we need devices like this one to make a difference in women’s health. 
  • WiFi-enabled scales. For cardiac patients, a 10-pound weight gain is significant. If a woman’s doctor could be alerted instantly of her weight gainwhen her WiFi-enabled scale transmits the information to a wearable deviceit could be lifesaving because heart disease is the number- one killer of women.

Other promising wearable medical devices are glucose monitors, ECG monitors, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors. I’ve also heard about wearable technology being used to track elderly patients’ movements, so that dangerous falls can be detected and alerts sent to their caregivers. Plus, these devices are easy to wear: they may be watches, glasses, headsets, patches, clothing—or even a shoe insole.

When I image all the ways wearable technology will shape women’s healthcare in the future, I’m simply amazed. I think the knowledge it provides will give us more power over our own healthand a greater sense of overall wellness. A study conducted by the Centre for Creative and Social Technology supports this: 82 percent of the users studied in the US and 71 percent of those in the UK believe that wearable devices have enhanced their lives.

To me, that sounds like having it all.

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Sarah Muckler
Director of Health Marketing, Worldwide

Microsoft in Health Blog

About the Author

Sarah Muckler | Director of Health Marketing, Worldwide

Sarah Muckler leads Worldwide Health Marketing for Microsoft where she focuses on global marketing strategy and executing programs for continued growth in the health industry. Read more