Following the news that wearable technology could help diagnose disorders in children earlier,
Bishal Bhandari, Epidemiologist at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the impact of this on the wearable market:
“Wearable technology is already well established in monitoring general health and used by athletes or those wanting to live active lifestyles. But as the technology becomes more advanced through machine learning, diagnosing complex diseases such as psychiatric disorders in children should be possible in the near future. There is a need for inexpensive as well as accurate diagnosing tools for childhood brain disorders and the advanced wearable technology could be the answer.
“The current development of wearable technology in health is dominated by large technological companies like Apple and Samsung, with the key focus on tracking general health and fitness level. But with the advancement in machine learning technology, it is only a matter of time before these leading technological companies gain further entry into the healthcare market in diagnosing and screening more complex psychiatric illness.
“Childhood brain disorders are less well understood and there is a possibility that a large number of cases are not diagnosed. The number of childhood disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is increasing and the diagnosed cases in the US will increase from 21 million cases in 2014 to 28 million cases in 2024, according to GlobalData. As wearable technology becomes more mainstream and reliable in screening psychiatric illness, we expect the number of child patients to spike as more hidden cases will come to light.
“Early diagnosis and monitoring of psychiatric illness in children is notoriously difficult, as children struggle communicating or even may not be aware that they can talk about it. Wearable technology thus could play an important role in diagnosis, so that interventions can be given early when they have the highest chance for success.
“However, there will be significant barriers to using this technology and there is a need to overcome a regulatory hurdle. This approach requires the digital monitoring of health in children, an uncharted territory in psychiatric diagnosis which will necessitate the implementation of new regulatory guidelines and the restructuring of existing treatment algorithms.”