Smartphones are more useful than wearables in collecting physical data, but more research is needed on the potential use of remote devices for monitoring other health behaviors.
Are you reading this article from your computer, tablet, or smartphone? If you are reading from the latter, then you are one of the estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users. Smartphones are everywhere and continue to progress with new technological features. In recent years, smartphones can track physical and health data, while wearable devices (e.g., iWatch, Android smartwatches) are on the rise and can provide other biometrics. However, there has been no study to compare whether a smartphone or a wearable is useful to remotely monitor patients long-term.
In a recent study, American researchers analyzed the physical activity data of 500 discharged hospital patients from a previous clinical trial. The clinical trial was carried out from January 2017 to January 2019. These patients were equally and randomly assigned to use either a smartphone alone or with a wearable for six months. The patients’ physical activity data were received and compared at 30, 90, and 180 days.
The researchers found that there was no difference in data transmission between smartphone and wearable groups after 30 days. However, data transmitted from the smartphone group was significantly greater at 90 days and 180 days.
Smartphones were more useful than wearables in the collection of physical data after six months, however, it must be noted that this study was restricted to the data collected from one clinical trial.
Although wearables have the ability to track other health behaviors that smartphones cannot, such as sleep, the results of this study suggest that smartphones are a more successful approach to remote patient monitoring. According to the researchers, “because smartphones are ubiquitous, our findings indicate that these devices could be a scalable approach for remotely monitoring patient health behaviors.”
Written by Manuel Bangsil, PharmD, MBA, BCMAS
- Arne, H. (2020). Smartphone users worldwide 2020 | Statista. Retrieved 12 February 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/
- Patel, M., Polsky, D., Kennedy, E., Small, D., Evans, C., Rareshide, C., & Volpp, K. (2020). Smartphones vs Wearable Devices for Remotely Monitoring Physical Activity After Hospital Discharge. JAMA Network Open, 3(2), e1920677. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20677
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