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Wearable technology in epilepsy: The views of patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals

      Highlights

      • Epilepsy service users are interested in the application of wearables in routine care.
      • Uncertainty about the usefulness of wearable devices limited their current use.
      • Commonly used, discrete multimodal devices were preferred for long-term use.
      • An automated device-generated alarm feature should be considered with caution.
      • Specific epilepsy care team personnel should be dedicated to digital data handling.

      Abstract

      Purpose

      In recent years, digital technology and wearable devices applied to seizure detection have progressively become available. In this study, we investigated the perspectives of people with epilepsy (PWE), caregivers (CG), and healthcare professionals (HP). We were interested in their current use of digital technology as well as their willingness to use wearables to monitor seizures. We also explored the role of factors influencing engagement with technology, including demographic and clinical characteristics, data confidentiality, need for technical support, and concerns about strain or increased workload.

      Methods

      An online survey drawing on previous data collected via focus groups was constructed and distributed via a web link. Using logistic regression analyses, demographic, clinical, and other factors identified to influence engagement with technology were correlated with reported use and willingness to use digital technology and wearables for seizure tracking.

      Results

      Eighty-seven surveys were completed, fifty-two (59.7%) by PWE, 13 (14.4%) by CG, and 22 (25.3%) by HP. Responders were familiar with multiple digital technologies, including the Internet, smartphones, and personal computers, and the use of digital services was similar to the UK average. Moreover, age and disease-related factors did not influence access to digital technology. The majority of PWE were willing to use a wearable device for long-term seizure tracking. However, only a limited number of PWE reported current regular use of wearables, and nonusers attributed their choice to uncertainty about the usefulness of this technology in epilepsy care. People with epilepsy envisaged the possibility of understanding their condition better through wearables and considered, with caution, the option to send automatic emergency calls. Despite concerns around accuracy, data confidentiality, and technical support, these factors did not limit PWE's willingness to use digital technology. Caregivers appeared willing to provide support to PWE using wearables and perceived a reduction of their workload and anxiety. Healthcare professionals identified areas of application for digital technologies in their clinical practice, pending an appropriate reorganization of the clinical team to share the burden of data reviewing and handling.

      Conclusions

      Unlike people who have other chronic health conditions, PWE appeared not to be at risk of digital exclusion. This study highlighted a great interest in the use of wearable technology across epilepsy service users, carers, and healthcare professionals, which was independent of demographic and clinical factors and outpaced data security and technology usability concerns.

      Keywords

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