Many of us on the Health Insider team have been using wearables and Fitness Trackers such as the Apple Watch and the Fitbit to help optimize our health and wellness since they appeared on the market.

Almost 40% of Canadians use some sort of fitness tracker (10,000 steps a day anyone?) and with the healthcare sector focusing on mobile healthcare innovation, this is an area where we anticipate seeing significant developments that will put you in the driver’s seat of your own healthcare. 

Tracking Your Key Health Metrics

With our Canadian healthcare system seemingly cracking open at the seams, the more you can understand about your own health, keep your records up to date and transmit this information to your healthcare team, the better.

And with about 15% of Canadians without a primary care doctor (depending on the province you are in, this could be much worse), we will be exploring how medical practitioners integrate patient-collected data into their care plan, what data needs to be tracked by whom, when and more. 

The bigger healthcare picture includes using mobile technology for medical purposes to make tests such as blood pressure, heart rate ongoing rather than episodic, which should in theory make for better measurement and therefore improved treatment. Technology is advancing quickly, with the pandemic kicking virtual healthcare into high gear.

True to our mission to keep you up to date with the most important breakthroughs in healthcare – both insured and uninsured – here’s the first of a roundup of 5 health wearables you need to know about; you or someone you care about may benefit from this information. After all, knowledge is power.

The Oura Ring

The Oura Ring is a sensor-packed ring that tracks multiple sleep metrics, heart rate, activity level, oxygen levels and body temperature. Voted one of the Top 100 Best Inventions of 2020, not only does the ring help health consumers track their critical health data, it has also developed an enterprise system that the NBA, WNBA NASCAR, and the Las Vegas Sands casino company are using to better monitor the health of athletes and employees.

Their just-released 3rd generation iteration includes an oxygen sensor that will be able to deliver a “more comprehensive assessment of sleep health and physiology” via red and infrared LED sensors. As an early innovator, the product has had its ups and downs in the past few years, but we’re intrigued to see how they fulfill their mission to create a future where “people have the understanding and tools to practice their health through continuous access to accurate information and personalized guidance wrapped around their finger”.

The Ava Fertility Tracker

If you are trying to get pregnant you need to know about The Ava bracelet. This device includes a fertility tracking sensor and accompanying app, and is the first and only FDA-cleared, wearable machine learning device to aid women in ovulation prediction and facilitation of conception. 

Touted as being less invasive than than having to urinate on multiple sticks throughout the month, and far easier to use than traditional methods which require temperature taking at the same time each day, the Ava also apparently detects more fertile days in a woman’s cycle, giving her more time (and increased chances) to conceive.

The Ava Bracelet is not covered under Provincial Insurance, however check with your private benefits company to understand the extent of their fertility coverage to see if they cover this kind of device.

Heart Guide Blood Pressure Monitor Watch

Decades-long, ongoing measurement and treatment of hypertension has been a game-changer in Canada, which has one of the lowest incidences of hypertension in the world. Our ranking has fallen in the past decade however, and with 1 in 5 Canadian adults living with hypertension, we are seeing a dangerous drop in the percentage of people aware of and treating their high blood pressure. 

This is why the Heart Guide, a medical-grade blood pressure monitor worn on the wrist is our choice for a wearable product you need to know about. Built using Omron premier precision-testing technology, the watch and its companion app monitors blood pressure and tracks sleep patterns and fitness. 

This product is currently available for purchase only in the United States and at $499USD, it is not accessible to all. If you want to make the trip to the US to purchase one, be aware that the partner app does not yet function outside of the United States. Mobile/at home blood pressure monitoring is currently not covered by provincial health plans but may be covered by your extended health plan.

FreeStyle Libre System, a Diabetes Glucose Monitoring System

Recently announced by Abbott Laboratories, The FreeStyle Libre system is a small wearable sensor and smartphone app used by diabetes patients aged 4 and up to continuously monitor their glucose levels. 

This revolutionary system helps people with diabetes track their glucose levels without finger pricks, provides real-time glucose readings for up to 10 days – both day and night – and can read glucose levels through clothes, making testing discreet and convenient.

Insider Pro Tip: The FreeStyle Libre is covered by provincial insurance in Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Manitoba and Saskatchewan for those that meet the criteria, and is reimbursed by most private insurance companies in Canada.

Lumen Metabolism Tracker

Personalized nutrition anyone? Launched in 2020, Lumen, the first-of-its-kind at-home metabolism tracking device aims to give people more information about how they process food in order to achieve fitness and weight loss goals. 

The easy-to-use device analyzes your breath, scoring you on a scale of 1 to 5, providing insight into where your body is getting its energy stores – from fat, the carbs you’ve consumed, or a combination of both. It follows with a recommended meal plan of approximately how many servings of each you should be eating, with the ultimate goal of making your metabolism more efficient.

Healthcare providers are catching up to this new, mobile way of approaching healthcare, so don’t hesitate to challenge your caregivers about their approach to the knowledge that can be garnered by using the actionable data wearables can collect. With a collaborative approach, there just might be a better way to approach ongoing healthcare that will positively impact your life.

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