What’s the future of Digital Watches in Healthcare?

Each new generation of hardware brings a new class of opportunities to meet and match needs in niches never before reached.

Pebble’s watch previously set Kickstarter’s funding records and just beat its new record in just two days with its new campaign for its second generation watch.

How does one identify “killer apps” for watches? What does a watch offer that a mobile phone cannot?

The answer may lie in situations where your hands need to be completely free and alternative displays cannot be placed around you.

Here are several scenarios where digital watches may thrive in healthcare. 

(1) Physician Messaging. Healthcare has the unique feature that minutes can make a difference to lives. Yet interrupting clinicians has its own risks and challenges. Clinicians on average are interrupted up to 15 times every hour (almost every 4 minutes.)

Task interruption has shown to cause physicians to forget to return to the original task almost 20% of the time.

The use of digital watch technology could shorten interruptions to a quick glance by the clinician allowing the clinician to maintain conversation with patients. Additionally, clinicians in the middle of office procedures could simply glance at their wrist rather than de-gloving to look at a phone.

(2) Consumer Fitness. When exercising or playing recreational sports, a simple watch on the wrist could reflect personal performance right onto one’s wrist. Our own company, Athla  which focuses on “video gamifying” recreational sports to encourage kids to leave living rooms and play outside is releasing a watch extension so the speeds of pitches, kicks and serves can appear on a digital watch.

What remains to be seen is whether augmented contact lens and glasses might completely replace the need for watches.

What other niche needs in healthcare could digital watches fill for which no other technology quite suffices?

Mike Gillam, MD, FACEP  2015


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