Smartwatches are no longer just for counting steps or tracking heartrates. They're evolving quickly into healthcare management tools that collect shareable data. What does that mean for you?

Doctors may soon be digitally connected to the devices their patients wear every day. And, they could receive alerts about imminent health episodes. For example, getting early notice of irregular heart rhythms could allow doctors to help their patients avoid hospital re-admission - or something even more serious.

Providers and Insurers Eye the Benefits of Wearables

Consumers want to take control of their own health, so they can live well and save on medical bills, causing technology companies to take digital health into new territory. And consumers aren't the only ones looking to save money.

When Fitbit grabbed headlines with the announcement that its popular fitness tracking device will soon offer personal wellness coaching services to wearers with chronic health conditions, providers and insurers took notice.

Digital Wellness: An Upward Trend

Digital wellness is surging. Wearable trackers like Fitbit and the Apple Watch are consistently experiencing higher rates of adoption. The wearables market expects to surpass 120 million users by 2023. There's also increasing competition among rival brands. Today:

  • More than 80% of consumers are willing to wear fitness technology.
  • Approximately 27 million people use the Fitbit fitness tracker.
  • An estimated 14 million adults subscribe to a mobile wellness service, like sleep tracking and customized diet and fitness programs.

Weighing the Upsides with the Downsides

While studies show that wearable technology inspires behavior that reduces hospital visits and readmissions, consumer privacy advocates are alarmed over third party companies having access to an individual's medical data. It's a legitimate concern.

But to providers looking for ways to offer more proactive versus reactive treatments, and consumers seeking to reduce healthcare costs, a digital app that offers a kind of "check engine" light is immensely appealing.

The Future of Wearables

Wearables may soon be able to collect vital data to:

  • Encourage medication adherence.
  • Monitor the activity of a chronically ill patient over time to see if they're adhering to their self-care program.
  • Measure the level of a person's mental health, based on activity patterns (although such markers are yet to be determined)
  • Provide physicians and researchers with new insights from data gathered from patients at risk for certain diseases.

As more accurate technology is developed and device connectivity expands, wearables promise to give healthcare organizations a powerful tool to influence healthy lifestyles and boost profitability.

At Cox Health Marketing, we make it a priority to understand consumers and what matters to them. Contact us to learn more about how to stay connected with your patients and partner in their wellness journey.