Health at hand: A systematic review of smart watch uses for health and wellness

Smart watches have the potential to support health in everyday life: they allow self-monitoring of personal activity; obtain feedback based on activity measures; allow on-site investigations to identify patterns of behavior; and support two-way communication with healthcare professionals and family members. However, smart watches are an emerging technology and research with these devices is in an early stage.

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We conducted a systematic review of smartwatch studies that engaged people in their use by searching the PubMed, Embase, IEEE XPlore, and ACM Digital libraries. Participant demographics, device characteristics, watch applications and methods, and technical challenges were extracted from included studies.

Seventy-three studies were returned in the search. Seventeen published studies were included. The included studies were published from 2014 to 2016, with the exception of one published in 2011. Most of the studies employed the use of consumer smart watches (14/17, 82%). Patient-related studies have focused on activity monitoring, heart rate monitoring, adherence to speech therapy, self-management of diabetes, and detection of seizures, tremors, scratching, eating behavior and intake of medicines. Most of the patient studies included participants with few exclusion criteria to validate smart watch function (10/17, 58%). Only studies that focus on Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and diabetes management have enrolled people living with specific conditions. One study focused on ICU nursing work and another focused on CPR training for lay people.

Consumer smartwatches have entered the health research space rapidly since 2014. The technical role, acceptability, and efficacy of health-supporting smartwatches need to be validated in larger field studies involving real participants living with target conditions of these devices.
In addition to functioning as a timekeeping device, a smartwatch is a “general-purpose computer, networked with a series of sensors” worn on the wrist [1]. Smartwatches have the potential to transform healthcare by supporting / assessing health in daily life because: (1) they are familiar to most people; (2) they are increasingly available as a consumer device; (3) enable near real-time continuous monitoring of physical activity and physiological measurements; (4) support personalized messages and reminders; (5) allow communication between patients, families and healthcare professionals; and (6) enable on-site mini-investigations and performance verification based on sensor-based measurements. Two identified areas from which the benefits of these devices can be derived are epilepsy [2] and cardiology [3], treatment, and research. The use of smart watches as a personal health information device is consistent with the fundamental theorem of biomedical computing, which states: “A person who works in collaboration with an information resource is ‘better’ than that same person without help.” [4]. Information from smart watches has the ability to integrate with nascent Internet of Things platforms, such as Lab of Things [5], [6] or Piloteur [7], and electronic medical record (EHR) data to provide holistic views of personal health trajectories across contexts. Furthermore, Rawassizadeh et al. cite a market study that predicts smartwatch demand growth of up to 214 million units in 2018 [1]. From a financial viability standpoint, current smartwatch prices start at less than $ 100 for the Pebble Classic [8]. Historically, healthcare professionals have been limited by face-to-face visits, patient recall, or self-report tools in their ability to screen patients for problems such as arrhythmias, activity levels, or changes in pressure. arterial. These assessment methods do not capture daily events or are limited by patient recall.

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