Data is Life: How Tech is Reforming our Relationship with Health

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By Mirabel “Emma” Aleladia

When we think of data, we think big, our minds instantly go to all the wordy techy news we’ve ever come across that involves the “D” word- data. Hardly do we ever think of the generic information we have access to daily as data. Technology has disrupted almost everything we can think of and our health is no exception.

Technology is constantly evolving our lives by simplifying everything, when it comes to our health and fitness it’s no different. Technology is providing people with access to their primary health information that would otherwise be unknown to them (unless they visit a hospital).

In 2014, Apple announced the release of the first Apple Watch, the general reaction was “why on earth do I need an apple watch when I have got an iPhone (or a fit bit)?”. It all seemed so bizarre at the time, right? Following Apple’s launch of its new product in 2014, the Apple watch landed Times Best 25 inventions of 2014. In no time competitors like Samsung, Huawei, etc. began to follow and the wearables market will be worth about $22 billion globally by 2022.

In 2020 the fitness wearable market was one of the few that was not affected by the pandemic. They’ve shown a healthy 20% global year on year according to Counterpoint Research, “why?”, you may ask, these products are widely demanded because of the value they create in the lives of consumers. Smartwatches/ fitness watches provide people with data that can be used to track heart rate, sleep quality, time, blood pressure, activity, and overall fitness level. Robin Berzin MD, Founder, and CEO of Parsley Health says she’s seen more of her patients using wearable devices to track personal health. “When patients see data that illustrates how destructive behaviors impact them physically, it can provide additional motivation to more proactively manage their health- such as incorporating appropriate physical activity, getting to bed earlier, being more open to stress- reduction techniques such as meditation”. Thanks to wearables, people are making practical changes in their lives that can bring about big rewards. People are choosing to incorporate walking into their daily commute, choosing healthier food; in a nutshell, wearables are increasing intentionality about healthy living.

Another valid impact of data derived from wearables is that it can be used to troubleshoot health-related issues. A Stanford University study used the data from wearables to detect diseases like influenza, Lyme diseases, and other diseases that cause an inflammatory response. More interestingly, a fall detection feature has been integrated with some smartwatches. The fall detection feature is capable of detecting a fall and even placing an emergency call if you are unresponsive, this feature can save a life by providing information to a third party (emergency contact).

We often hear people say that data is life, this is no doubt the case. Thanks to technology you can now have your health information at your fingertips better still on your wrist to improve the quality of your life. With easy access to information about your health, you can make better decisions that help you lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

…Aleladia, a Health and Lifestyle Columnist wrote

in from Lagos