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How can wearables transform healthcare?

08 Jun 2015  | Rick Merritt

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Experts believe that wearable devices can revolutionise the healthcare system by offering and analysing long-term data. However, participants of the Churchill Club-sponsored event in California said that this change will not come immediately since it will entail the creation of new business models in healthcare and Web services.

"I'm convinced healthcare will be transformed by wearables collecting and analysing signals and providing services embedded into them—we are on the right track but it's a long winding road," said Yves Behar, chief creative officer of Jawbone that makes wristbands for tracking fitness.

Continuous health data is useful for giving consumers suggestions about improving their lifestyles, but it is even more significant when applied to medicine, Behar said.

"When I see a doctor for my annual checkup, I want him to see my full data for the year including my resting heart rate and other patterns over time," he said. "If the medical profession doesn't work it out people will find their own ways and start companies to provide this information," he added, noting his now has as much as $50 million in funding for a new start-up in stealth mode.

Yves Behar

Yves Behar said his latest wearables start-up has $50 million in finding..

"I'm not sure how we will get that aggregation business model to happen so I can collect data and send to my doctor," said Mike Bell, the general manager of the new devices division of Intel. "What we need is the equivalent of a Swiss bank that will collect my data and keep it safe instead of someone trying to sell ads based on it," Bell said.

If he had $20 million to launch a new wearables start-up, Bell said it would be in healthcare. "It's cheaper to predict and prevent issues than care for them after the fact," he said.

Behar agreed. "Enterprises are still giving employees fitness memberships, but they are a lot less effective than giving them a tracker," he said. "We know insurance companies and hospitals are doing it—we are in early days of figuring out how to promote use of trackers," he added.

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