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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Jun 18 2012   9:40PM GMT

What wearable medical devices mean to big data

Posted by: RedaChouffani
BIG DATA, Medical devices, mhealth, mobile health, wearable devices

With the increased adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), many health systems and providers now have both structured and unstructured patient data on which they are sitting.  This information is being stored either on the premises or in the cloud and serves as a valuable source of information from which clinicians and “datasticians” can cull. And though there is much promise of big data helping to improve care and increase efficiency, there are still some data points that are missing, such as vital signs and other health related information.

But as other industries have shown, data can be an extremely valuable asset for scientists.  For health care, in order to capture more information, caregivers must turn to the patients and look to capture data outside the facility walls as well.  This can be accomplished by prescribing medical devices that can monitor and publish health information to a central repository, where the next generation of devices will provide the continuous flow of information for extended periods of time.

Many of the wearable medical devices that we look at in the market consist of infusion drug pumps, glucose monitors, vital-signs monitors, pressure meter, heart monitors and ovulation prediction system, all having the ability to generate information that can be uploaded to a centralized data store. While they are still somewhat large in size due to the nature of the electronics needing to capture, process, and transmit the information, many device manufacturers are looking to incorporate technology that will enable these devices to be much smaller and still have the ability to be worn for extended periods of time. As these devices continue to capture more health information by listening to our bodies, this data will serve as an almost unlimited, significant source for data scientists.

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