The U.S. could reach a “critical mass” of physicians using patient-generated data from devices such as wearables by 2020, according to new research released by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
The report, “Wearable Health and Fitness Technology in U.S. Medical Care,” lays out the opportunities, challenges, regulatory drivers and industry initiatives that will drive the broad use of patient-generated health data in clinical settings in the next three years.
Indeed, the report draws from secondary research and a series of interviews with key U.S. healthcare industry stakeholders including physicians, insurance industry executives, clinical informaticists, and digital health technology experts. The key findings in the report point to opportunities for patient-generated data in healthcare:
· Physicians report that patients like using wearables as part of their care because the technology feels less prescriptive than medications.
· In recent years, the use of wearables in clinical trials has become an emerging part of the research toolkit.
· Insurers are offering free wearables and cash incentives to subscribers who meet certain health goals.
As such, according to CTA projections, driven by the popularity of fitness activity trackers, the total wearables market in 2017 in the U.S.—including other health and fitness devices, hearables and smartwatches—is expected to generate shipments of 48 million unit sales (14 percent increase over 2016) and earn $5.5 billion in revenue (three percent year-over-year increase).
Nonetheless, challenges to rapid acceptance remain within the medical community remain, including the lack of integration with EHR (electronic health record) systems and concerns about standards and efficacy of the health and fitness trackers on the market today. In October 2016, CTA addressed the latter issue with the release of two new standards for wearable health and fitness trackers—defining terms and functionality for step counting wearables and sleep measuring devices.
“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,” James Mault, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer, Qualcomm Life and chairman of CTA’s Health and Fitness Technology Division, said in a statement. “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. 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.”