Fitbits and other wearables may be more than just a fitness tool

Hospital uses data to accurately treat patient

My friend recently purchased a Fitbit in an attempt to kick-start a healthier lifestyle. She rolled up her sleeve to show off the device and rattled off the progress she’s made in a few short weeks. I’ve spent numerous hours researching wearables, and the benefits of tracking how many steps you take, how many hours you sleep and your heart rate. But no person, story, or statistic has convinced me more about the effectiveness of a Fitbit than a recent NPR report about how this product actually helped save a man’s life.

In past blog posts, we’ve compared the quality of a Fitbit to an Apple Watch or discussed how wearables are supporting medical research, but this incident details how doctors of a New Jersey hospital used real-time data to properly treat a patient’s arrhythmia.

When the man entered the hospital, he had suffered a grand mal seizure. NPR reported that he felt fine and was unaware of his irregular heart beat. In order to assess his risk for a stroke and determine when the irregular heartbeat started, they asked permission to tap into a Fitbit app on his smartphone.

Using data from the Fitbit’s heart rate monitor, the doctors were able to determine when the arrhythmia started and treated him accordingly. After a few hours, he was sent home, Fitbit in hand. Medical professionals were so impressed by the capabilities of the Fitbit and the role it played in saving his life, they published the case study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Although this is an isolated incident, other studies have proved Fitbits and other wearables are more than just a fitness tool. In a recent Accenture Consulting study, it found 87 percent of consumers were willing to invest in wearables to track vital signs, fitness data, or both. Similarly, 90 percent of consumers were willing to share such data with a doctor.

Healthcare marketers looking to expand hospital market share and engage audiences on a new level may want to consider wearables. With population health gaining momentum, this technology could help physicians monitor patients’ health and potentially stem issues on the rise. Wearables also give physicians the option to hold virtual appointments, while freeing up time to visit with other patients face-to-face.