4 ways wearables will transform healthcare’s future

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Arthur Combs

Arthur Combs, MD, FCCP, FCCM, is the Chief Medical Officer at MC10 Inc. [Image from MC10]

Wearable technology is moving beyond consumer-grade health and wellness devices – the daily step counters and heart rate trackers offered by the likes of Apple, Fitbit and Garmin.

“They’re convenient, small, portable and inexpensive, but you don’t use consumer items for life and death,” said Dr. Arthur Combs, chief medical officer at flexible electronics company MC10 (Lexington, Mass.).

Apple is reportedly developing glucose monitoring for the next generation of its Apple Watch. Said Combs: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” (Hear more from Combs about Medtech 3.0 at DeviceTalks Boston on Oct. 2.)

Wearables, however, are becoming more prominent in the regulated world of medical devices, pushing the envelope for monitoring different conditions. MC10, for example, has created wearable patches for cardiac monitoring and ECG recording. It has partnered with the company L’Oreal to create the first-ever stretchable skin sensor that monitors UVA and UVB exposure. The patch attaches to the skin and changes color based on how long the user has been in the sun. The technology inside of the patch can be scanned on a smartphone to tell the user how long they’ve been in the sun and if it is time to reapply sunscreen.

The wearables industry is ever-changing. “The future of wearables has many different facets,” Combs said.

Combs, with his more than 20 years of medical device product development experience, suggests four ways that medical-grade wearables could transform healthcare in the future.

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