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Survey: 75 Percent of Adults Don’t Use Mobile Devices to Track Health

October 6, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Despite the predicted growth spurt of the wearable devices market, 75 percent of adults do not use either a fitness tracker or smartphone app to monitor their health, according to a new survey from Technology Advice.

Since wearable fitness devices, such as the FitBit and Nike+, began to appear on the market, the healthcare community has recognized their potential to provide unbiased, accurate insight into patient activity. Patient-generated data can be used to improve preventative care strategies, monitor patient outcomes, and analyze overall trends in patient populations.

However, there is little information on the number of adults who track their fitness and health using such devices, or the ways in which adults who do not track their fitness can be convinced to do so, the report found. The nationwide internet survey asked more than 900 adults about their general fitness tracking habits, and 419 adults were surveyed on their specific reasons for not using tracking devices or apps.

The most common reason for not tracking fitness or health was general lack of interest (27.2 percent) followed by concerns over device cost (17.7 percent). Nearly half (48.2 percent) of non-tracking adults said they would use a fitness tracking device provided by their physician. However, the majority of respondents (43.7 percent) did not indicate a specific reason for not tracking their fitness. And more than half (57.2 percent) said that lower health insurance premiums would make them more likely to use a health tracking device.

However, the use of wearable tracking devices should continue to spike, research suggests. Last month, Apple launched its much-anticipated Apple Watch device, with the aim to better monitor consumers’ health by collecting data and sharing it with providers. The device has an accelerometer to measure body movement; custom sensors to measure intensity by tracking your heart rate; and uses the GPS and Wi-Fi in the consumer’s iPhone to help track distance, according to Apple officials. That ability to track data will work with the company’s new HealthKit app. Cerner, Athenahealth, Epic, and various other vendors in health IT have announced collaborations with Apple as they continue to move into the patient-generated data space.

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