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Data from Wearables will Transform Healthcare Policy

The Internet of Things (IoT) includes small devices that create a constant steam of data that needs to be captured and interpreted as actionable insight. This use case is especially important within the healthcare sector, where the ongoing analysis of data can be applied to improve a person's life.

The gradual change in direction for fitness wearables to become essential healthcare devices will lead to over 75 million Americans using dedicated activity trackers by 2021 -- that's over double the current user base, according to the latest market study by Juniper Research.

Healthcare Wearable Market Development

The new research has found that this shift in focus will help to alter the consumer perception of wearable trackers, making them seem more necessary to achieving and maintaining good health -- and potentially lower healthcare expenses, based upon lifestyle choices.

Vendors like Fitbit, Withings and Misfit are leading this change, making integration with medical databases a priority and focusing on encouraging users to lead healthier lives, rather than merely getting fitter for sporting activities. Besides, establishing a healthy U.S. population goal is a smart national public policy.

This will move the wearables category from consumer hardware to more institutional partnerships and software integration. Furthermore, the vendors who are able to make their wearable devices and systems part of healthcare practices will reap the largest long-term rewards.


The research also revealed that the form factor of devices has begun to vary, and the range of metrics they measure has increased in recent years -- as an example, heart rate and related metrics is becoming more common.

This will accelerate the merging of the fitness and health wearables categories, which already have a degree of overlap. The market study also found that nearly 25 percent of fitness trackers will be something other than a wristband by 2021.

Despite the changes in shape and context, core functions will remain unchanged: to record activity and provide advice.

Outlook for Health-Related Wearables

Devices which offer many non tracking functions have not succeeded in market. In contrast, any type of device that can encourage a person to change their sedentary lifestyle and become more active is a welcomed change in the United States, where one in three adults are obese.

"The promise of a healthier life remains the biggest reason for wearables use," said James Moar, senior analyst at Juniper Research. "The ability to collect more and better data on consumers, coupled with advances in artificial intelligence, will allow these devices to provide tailored advice, and have a much clearer impact on consumers’ lives in future."

Moreover, the ongoing assessment of anonymous aggregated consumer data can help to inform government policy makers, insurance companies and healthcare providers about the actual health status of the American populous. This insight will help to transform healthcare, by highlighting the lifestyle profiles that are driving higher healthcare costs for all citizens.

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