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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

How wearable technology can help in disasters

Posted on 8th January 2015 at 14:55pm

The much-anticipated Apple Watch is only one of the many wearable devices that are promising to be much more than just an accessory. This technology monitors users’ lifestyle by keeping track of health, daily activity and habits, creating daily logs that doctors and healthcare professionals can interpret and use.

Apple Computers has developed an app specifically designed to incorporate data from wearable devices and to present the information in a clear and readable format. This new app, Apple Health, can help monitor your heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar, and the amount of calories burned during the day. 

In fact many major healthcare providers – most notably the Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente in the US as well as many academic institutions utilising Electronic Medical Records – are already integrating Apple Health with their own apps.

For example, the new Mayo Clinic app allows patients to contact their care team directly through secure messaging, manage their appointments, and find health information quickly.

As Apple Health gains more credibility and other healthcare providers begin integrating their platforms, wearable devices will not only transmit vital health information to medical teams in a fraction of second, but may change the manner in which medical teams and patients interact with each other.

But there are further applications and potential: wearable devices could also play a role during a major natural or man-made disaster. For instance, the GPS signaling with which they are fitted can help in recovery situations. Further, vital signs can be monitored and medical professionals in the field will have access to a patient’s medical history via Apple Health’s medical emergency card. This function is accessible on locked phones and it provides rescuers with important information such as the patient’s allergies, medical conditions, and the medication they are currently using.

This will go a long way to ensure patients in medical emergencies receive proper care, whether in a large-scale emergency or other situation.


Editors: Ramin Bajoghli, Nadia Elkarra and Ian Portelli 

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