3 Building Blocks of a Wearable Technology Revolution

It isn't a surprise that technology staples Apple and Google have thrust themselves into the market for wearable medical technology -- an emerging industry at the nexus of buzzwords like The Internet of Things, Wearable Technology, and Personalized Medicine. But while consumers begin to pine for smart gadgets, demand isn't the only obstacle wearable tech makers must overcome. There are several building blocks to a wearable technology revolution that will need to be assembled for its reliable, safe, and effective use in healthcare. As the development of new devices like Google's smart contact lens progresses, we're beginning to learn more about these three pillars: technology, clinical development, and data integration.


Apple's HealthKit. Source: Apple.

It may sound obvious, but putting the mountains of data collected by wearable devices to good use is a major logistical building block of a telehealth/medical wearable revolution. Existing mainstream wearables are excellent for patient engagement, and Google's new Google Fit platform will serve to consolidate those data into a user-friendly mobile interface. But for doctors, the data can be so much more useful when synced with patients' complete records in a private and secure way.

Data connectivity isn't only important for patient care, though. In these times of great concern over healthcare costs, you can bet that insurers will keep a close watch on the pricing of new technologies. Data integration and collection will be essential for manufacturers to collect evidence that their devices provide sustained clinically meaningful benefits to patients and are worth the investment of healthcare payers.

Several tech and health care IT providers have jockeyed for position in the market for HIPAA-compliant data exchange. Apple and electronic medical record ( EMR ) vendor Epic Systems inked the first major deal on this front, allowing data from wearable devices to flow through Apple's HealthKit and sync directly with a patient's EMR. Spreading its reach further, Apple is now also in talks with EMR vendor Allscripts , as well as other major health centers across the US. Likewise $27 billion consumer electronics maker Phillips linked up with cloud-computing powerhouse to facilitate the exchange of data from its medical devices. Despite its cloud prowess, Google has a shaky history with EMRs, and so far doesn't have a partner for Google Fit. As it stands, that makes Apple's iOS a far more attractive platform for potential wearable tech developers seeking that kind of EMR connectivity.

What's an investor to do?

Wearable technology certainly presents an interesting investment, but the layers of complexity can make the options seem overwhelming. In emerging industries such as this, the best opportunities often lie with companies possessing the most optionality. In the context of our industry building blocks, the most optionality exists for companies that facilitate one particular step in development, rather than usher products from conception to market. Apple's HealthKit platform, for example, takes a bite out of the growing industry while distributing risk to the multitude of hardware makers developing new technologies.

Wearable technology and personalized medicine are really just budding dreams in the healthcare community, but present significant opportunities to improve patient care while cutting health care costs. Keep your eye on this emerging industry, but beware of the obstacles that face entrants into this exciting space.

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The article 3 Building Blocks of a Wearable Technology Revolution originally appeared on

Seth Robey owns shares of Apple and Nike. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Nike. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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