Wearables have been billed as the next big thing, but with relatively slow consumer uptake, their impact on the healthcare sector still remains to be seen.
Wearable technology is technology that is worn or carried on the body, and performs a useful function. From the moderately basic functions of counting steps or monitoring sleep cycles, to more complex medical tracking such as monitoring glucose, the prevalence of wearables is on the rise and looks likely to increase as innovators develop ever new technology.
Research suggests that 56% of consumers think that life expectancy can be increased by wearable technology.1 Wearables have the potential to enable individuals to make healthier choices by monitoring calories and physical activity. The lives of senior citizens can be made safer and easier by wearables which can detect falls and alert responders. Wearables also have the potential to substantially impact healthcare. With the ability to track medical conditions, wearables can provide patients with more autonomy and control, and potentially change the relationship between physicians and patients.
However, wearable technology has not yet made the splash that some had predicted; according to a report by PWC, only 1 in 5 Americans own a wearable.2 Numerous reasons have been posited for the slower than expected uptake, with cost featuring highly. Having said this, the PWC report does highlight the potential of wearable technology in the healthcare sector, with healthier eating, exercise tracking and monitoring of medical information reported as the top 3 things that consumers want from this technology.3
Wearables could have a substantial impact on healthcare, but until more people adopt the technology, the actual effects remain to be seen.
1. http://www.healthcarecommunication.com/Main/Articles/13930.aspx (Accessed on 28 August, 2016)
2. Health wearables: early days https://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/top-health-industry-issues/assets/pwc-hri-wearable-devices.pdf (Accessed on 28 August, 2016)
3. Health wearables: early days https://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/top-health-industry-issues/assets/pwc-hri-wearable-devices.pdf (Accessed on 28 August, 2016)