The Race for Your Wrist and Medical Data is Happening – Now!

By Sandra Rodriguez

Technology and Life Science companies are collaborating at full speed

2015 is turning out to be an interesting year in the world of racing.

Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indy 500, Joey Logano won the Daytona 500 and just a few weeks ago, American Pharoah outpaced all the other horses and won the Triple Crown.

However, there is another even more important race taking place.  It has to do with technology and you. Specifically, a highly coveted 1” wide piece of real estate on your body – your wrist.

I posted an opinion piece in May on LinkedIn titled: The Apple Watch Does Just That – it watches you  with its health and wellness App called Activity, as well as giving you the time and date  Google on the other hand, is not as interested in telling you the time.  The company’s research division – Google X – is instead racing towards the finish line to be the first to land on your wrist with an approved and prescribed wearable medical device.  In fact, the only time Google appears to be interested in is a 24 hour window…giving the medical community access to patient data around the clock and using it for clinical trials, preventative care, etc.

Andy Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google stated in a recent article published on  “I envision a day, in 20 or 30 years, where physicians give it to all patients.  Prevention means all the time.”

What differentiates Google’s health tracking wristband from other wearables currently on the market is that it is intended to become a “medical device” and would require a prescription.

Why does that matter? FDA Approval.

Why can companies like Google continue to race full speed ahead without tapping the brakes? FDA appears to be on their side.

Just over a year ago in May 2014, FDA held a three-day public workshop on Health IT that was comprised of 6 separate panels.  On these panels were representatives of both industry and regulatory agencies.  Each panel discussed topics ranging from Categories of Health IT to Clinical Decision Support and Health IT Safety Center – value proposition.  We published an article on this meeting noting that FDA was signaling a change in its direction of Health IT Compliance.

Wearable health tracking devices seem to be Silicon Valley’s new favorite toy.  Why? Sensors in mobile devices are able to capture patient data in a manner that was previously difficult, if not impossible.  The New Jersey Institute of Technology recently released an infographic  on the booming mobile health industry.   Furthermore, since technology and innovation go hand in hand, it is no surprise that companies such as IBM, Google, Apple or Samsung are racing towards the finish line.  Yet some are not doing so alone.  They are collaborating with traditional “Med-Tech” companies to reach their goal.

For example, Samsung and Medtronic recently announced a partnership targeting diabetes management.  Per the press release, “The companies have stated their intentions to develop a range of future solutions that will allow for patients with diabetes to have easier access to viewing their data, with the ultimate goal of fully integrating mobile and wearable devices into a complete diabetes management system.”  In keeping with the race analogy, in this collaboration scenario one company takes the role of a pit crew, while the other takes the wheel and drives to the finish line.

Twenty years ago, I sent my first email and couldn’t stop clicking around the world wide web.  Today, I’m helpless without a WiFi signal because I’ve somehow grown entitled to access real time information at the click of a button.  I am also fortunate enough to think I’m healthy because my annual doctor visit says so.

Thinking about how much our world has changed in just twenty years, I’m not convinced we will have to wait another twenty years (or until 2035) to declare a winner.  Someone will inevitably land on your wrist, with access to your preventative or predictive medical data, much sooner than that.  Based on some of the current partnerships being formed, technology and life science companies have put the pedal to the metal.

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