Wearables Have Stepped up to Monitor Your Health

Wearables Have Stepped up to Monitor Your Health

A Guideway Trust client, Shirley, decided that the new year was time for making long overdue changes to her life. She made an appointment to create a Living Trust, which includes a Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive, that she’d been putting off for years. She started doing yoga twice/week and got serious about using the smartwatch her kids gave her for Christmas.

Smartwatches keep getting smarter

A 62-year old bookkeeper, Shirley has high blood pressure and some other health issues. She’s delighted with her smartwatch—she sets alarms during the day that remind her to get up from her desk and stretch–this is especially important as tax season looms. She now takes a brisk walk during her lunch break, and she’s using her smartwatch to monitor her blood pressure and oxygen levels.

Today’s smartwatches and other health-related wearables do a lot more than count steps or let you see how many calories you’ve burned.

Socks monitor foot temperature, helping reduce foot ulcers for diabetes patients

San Francisco-based Siren is producing a wearable for your feet–machine-washable socks for people living with diabetes and neuropathy. The socks come with a Bluetooth hub that plugs in and lets a team of nurses monitor the temperature of the foot, which Siren says has been shown to reduce diabetic foot ulcers by up to 87.5 percent. On the market for about five years, Medicare covers the cost. You need a prescription but not a smartphone.

Other health wearables on the cusp

  • Swiss startup Aktiia announced plans to bring its automated wrist-worn 24/7 blood pressure device to the United States. The company has about 15,000 customers in Europe.
  • Abbott announced a new line of consumer “biowearables” to continuously track signals for glucose, ketones and lactate. It will eventually track alcohol levels.
  • Worn on the back of the arm, FreeStyle Libre is about the size of two stacked quarters and is used widely by diabetics. A tiny filament the width of three human hairs is placed just below the surface of the skin, where it measures molecular biomarkers. Data is sent via Bluetooth to an app on your smartphone every minute, giving users insights into what’s going on in real time. It’s available by prescription and lasts 14 days, when the user peels it off and applies a new one.

Information accuracy is best when backed up by a doctor or FDA

While there are no guarantees with these wearable devices, you generally can put more faith in a device that your doctor prescribes or recommends, or that has the blessing of the FDA.

Swiss company Aktiia plans to make its blood pressure watch available through doctors rather than as a direct-to-consumer offering, at least initially. The company is engaged in clinical partnerships and pilots in the U.S., including a study with hypertension patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. As the technology evolves, so will the safety and data protocols.

Data must be understandable and secure

When in doubt, reach out to your doctor. The onus is on the makers of the wearable devices to clearly explain what the data mean and the consequences. You should also be informed about a device’s limitations. A good example: When you launch the ECG app on the Apple Watch, you’ll see a message that says “Apple Watch never checks for heart attacks.”

If you’re not aware of privacy issues these days, you’re not paying attention. Find out how the device makers and medical providers plan to safeguard your information and keep it confidential. The FTC affirmed in September 2021 that health apps and connected devices that collect or hold fertility, glucose level, heart health and other health data must notify consumers in the event of a breach.

With the promise comes peril

“There’s promise in all of this technology, but also peril,” says Patrice Harris, chief executive officer and cofounder of digital health care company eMed and former president of the American Medical Association. “I always say proceed with caution and have some curiosity.”

Creating a Living Trust: One of the most thoughtful things you can do for your family

A Living Trust is a legal document that contains instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die. For my family, it meant that when my parents died, all of their affairs were in order, they had transferred all of their assets into the Living Trust and identified their heirs. Without a Living Trust, their estate would have gone into Probate and my brother and I would have been dealing with this long, expensive process—even while mourning the death of our parents.

Guideway is proud of our comprehensive Living Trust package that includes a Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare DirectiveBest of all, we guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents. Schedule an appointment with Guideway today.

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