Smart watches are still relatively new, but a variety of applications are already available that may help you stay on track and complete your work.
These apps help doctors stay organized, teach their patients about health and even access important reminders. Depending on the software system you use, limited EHR and PM functions are also available. In the future, more sophisticated watches may help your practice accomplish even more.
Keeping your practice organized
Smart watches can help you stay aware of your schedule throughout the day and can bring up notifications for incoming phone calls and text messages. You can even create reminder alerts prompted by your travel to specific places. For instance, you could pre-program a message or alert that displays on your smart watch as you leave work, or program your watch to vibrate when you have a new task to start. You can also set it so that walking or driving to a certain location then triggers whatever alerts you set up.¹ ³
Many of these basic smartphone functions work in concert with your smartphone via Bluetooth, so organization apps you already use for your smartphone may be capable of connecting with your smart watch. Having your watch display your schedule for quick reference throughout the day is another common feature.
Some vendors either already have limited EHR and PM functionality available for smart watches or are planning to offer smart watch features soon. Secure messages, reminders about upcoming patient appointments, messaging features that allow staff to communicate with each other and send pre-written, short notes like ‘Running late’ are all useful features. If you are considering apps that interface with your software, be sure they are fully compliant with HIPAA and link securely to your systems.¹
While watches are not full replacements for software portals, they can help you keep key patient information at a glance during patient encounters. Instead of fumbling for your smartphone, you would already have everything readily available. The more your watch is able to replace other portals and devices, the less you may need to carry around with you. Eventually, these smart watch functions may become a more significant part of healthcare with doctors and providers regularly accessing the EHR information they need via smart watches.¹
Caring for patients
Smart watches are becoming more advanced and developers are finding new ways to use them. As these new features become available, the possibilities for use in clinical settings increase. Doctors who work in acute medical settings can use their watches to alert them to changes in patient vital signs. In chiropractic settings, you can adapt this concept by teaching patients how to use their own smart watches and smart trackers to track their activity levels and other fitness metrics.
If your clinic teaches exercise classes or incorporates the work of other healthcare disciplines, you may find other direct patient uses for smart watches and activity trackers. You may want to teach your patients how to benefit from these new technologies themselves as they become more active, try for new fitness goals, or follow their health plans. ²
Using a smart watch at your practice
Right now, a range of different price points and features are available to fit different needs. If all you are looking for is a watch that notifies you of incoming calls and messages, then you may be able to purchase a basic smart watch for under $50. At higher price points, smart watches capable of replacing more of the functionality of smartphones are available that may help you organize your work, view patient information and more.³
Technology changes quickly, so you may want to do some of your own research and find a watch that fits your needs. Smart watches can be used for a range of different purposes in clinical settings. Investigating how others are using smart watches in their practices can also provide you with useful information. In time, these watches may play a key role in patient care.