The Future of Wearable Tech in Healthcare

By February 10, 2016Blog

The wearable health industry has exploded in recent years, and the trend isn’t slowing down. First-generation wearables, including fitness trackers like the FitBit and Jawbone’s Up, health apps like Walgreen’s Balance Rewards,and smartwatches, are very popular with consumers.

Widespread Applicability of Wearable Health Technology

And healthcare professionals are eager to get in the game, too, exploring the possibilities for helping patients with chronic illnesses or who live in remote areas manage their conditions. As the cost of wearables goes down and the ease of collecting the data improves, the likelihood of seeing wearable technology become commonly incorporated into healthcare services and recognized by health plans goes up.

The Internet of Things is transforming the healthcare industry, and has the potential to provide flexible patient monitoring, improve drug management and patient engagement, reduce healthcare costs and improve population health over time. And as Baby Boomers age, getting patients engaged in their healthcare is critical to attempt to get in front of the impending strain on the healthcare system.

Potential Roadblocks to mHealth

There are concerns, of course. HIPAA compliance, potential FDA regulations for certain types of mHealth tech, interoperability with existing EHRs, patient adherence, the cost of wearable tech, incorporating mHealth into health plans, and more. Privacy is also a concern, as well as the lack of market and device standards.

Reports have shown that more than half of people who use wearable tech abandon their devices within six months of getting started, so healthcare providers and payers will need to work together to come up with creative incentives to get patients to stick with it.

Looking Forward

Despite the sobering stats about patients giving up on their health apps, other research points to a growing level of use and acceptance among patients and providers. PwC’s Health Research Institute released a report showing that:

  1. Close to 42% of physicians are comfortable prescribing medications based on at-home tests.
  2. 50% of physicians said e-visits could replace more than 10% of in-office visits, and many consumers said they would conduct caregiver communications electronically.
  3. Usage of healthcare, wellness and medical apps is up 16% from last year to 28% of consumers. Nearly two-thirds of physicians said they would prescribe an app manage chronic diseases like diabetes.
  4. About half of consumers and 79% of physicians believe using mobile devices can improve coordinating care with physicians.

At HIMSS16 in Las Vegas, emids is running our second annual CXO Challenge to highlight the role of mobile health technology in the future of healthcare. Last year’s event was a success, and we’re looking forward to this year’s competition.

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