The number of physicians in the US using data from wearables is set to reach critical mass by 2020 according to new research.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) report, Wearable Health and Fitness Technology in US Medical Care, lays out the opportunities and challenges that will drive the use of patient-generated health data in clinical settings. The findings are based on studying other industry research and a series of interviews with leading industry experts.
The popularity of fitness trackers and smartwatches is undeniable. CTA predicts that the US wearables market will generate shipments of 48 million unit sales in 2017, a 14% increase on the previous year.
With strong growth expected in the years to come, the use of such devices will become an integral part of patient care. The report says this is partly because the technology feels less prescriptive than medications. Also, the use of wearables in clinical trials will increasingly become part of the research toolkit.
“A range of technological and social forces are converging that will make patient-generated health data an important part of the clinical landscape by 2020,” says James Mault, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of Qualcomm Life and chairman of CTA’s Health and Fitness Technology Division.
Growth in wearable use for health purposes will further be incentivized by insurers offering free wearables and cash bonuses to those who meet certain health goals.
“As health insurers and employers begin to use technology to incentivize subscribers to improve their health, consumers will take a more active role in their own healthcare,” Mault adds.
“This enables the medical professional community to deliver patient-specific precision medicine and move from episodic care to a continuous care model based on real-time health data.”
The report identifies some key challenges that lie ahead as well. This includes the lack of integration of devices with electronic health record systems, and concerns about standards and the efficacy of health and fitness gadgets on the market today. Late last year, CTA attempted to addressed the latter with the release of standards defining terms and functionality for step counting wearables and sleep measuring devices.
“More consumers are now harnessing wearable technology and personal data, giving them a greater ability to lead healthier lives,” said Steve Koenig, senior director, Market Research, CTA.
“By using this connectivity to cultivate and analyze individual data, healthcare can be more personalized, more democratized and ultimately more effective.”
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