Simply put, healthcare has changed. Over the last decade, and driven with an increasing pace over the last three years due to the pandemic, tech and digital-centric companies have taken over and re-established the makeup of the healthcare playing field: pushing both technology-enabled and patient-centered experiences to the forefront as the new ways to innovate and deliver modern healthcare. One prime example of this shift is the evolution of Wearables. Once merely a status symbol of the early adopter set, Wearables have shifted from being cool, "must-have" accessories to enabling connected access to critical health data and fueling the delivery of better outcomes in modern care.
With eMarketer's Insider Intelligence research indicating the number of health and fitness app users will stay above 84 million through 2022 and predicting demand for Wearables will continue to increase as more consumers exhibit interest in sharing their information with providers and insurers, this trend is one we at g2o are monitoring closely. We believe that companies who understand how to connect consumer engagement with clinical application and disease management will become frontrunners as the evolution continues towards critical care.
The path of Wearables, from cool to connected and, ultimately to critical, is certainly one that is already well under way. In this initial article we’ll examine Phase One: From Cool to Connected to review the benefits of Wearables’ connected capabilities today and how they are setting the pace to patient-centered care.
Phase One: From Cool to Connected—A Look at Category Leaders in Innovation and Integration
Capitalizing on increasing consumer usage and enhanced biometric technology, companies that were initially focused on the technology itself have started expanding their reach to become meaningful players in the healthcare space. These leaders are empowering patients through connected devices that can enable everything from more consistent and proactive management of chronic conditions such as diabetes monitoring to immediate notifications when time is of the essence in emergency situations via fall and crash detection. Additionally, real-time data delivered consistently by these devices is opening up opportunities for more proactive, cost effective and impactful treatment plans for patients with a wide spectrum of needs.
We’re seeing the evolution from simply recording one's daily step count and activity durations, to these devices now enabling the collection of critical data on metrics from movement to blood pressure, with further advancements in reading pulse and oxygen levels on the horizon. Even the newest branch of the military, Space Force, has taken note, testing out replacing standard “moment in time” annual physical fitness tests with Wearables to track recruits' physical fitness on an ongoing basis.
Below we take a look at some of the leaders in the space and their efforts to push these advanced biomarker tracking capabilities:
- Apple is pursuing active integration partnerships with medical device companies like Dexcom (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) and Johnson & Johnson to enable and improve adherence and prevent breakthrough episodes of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart health.
- This FDA approved app integrates with the Apple Watch to track Parkinson's movement symptoms to create a real-time record of disease progression to help quickly tailor patient treatment.
- Fitbit recently added on-demand ECG capabilities to track and help minimize the risk of a cardiac event and is currently in a late phase study of how to use pulse arrival time (PAT) to measure and track blood pressure.
- New Garmin connected Wearables such as the vívoactive 3 Music, fēnix 5 Plus Series, and Forerunner 645 Music feature crash and fall detection as well as emergency contact notification to make solo training – cycling and hiking – safer and allow for faster medical aid in the event of an accident.
The examples above are some of the more widely recognized technology driven companies looking to impact the health and wellness landscape. But big, established brands aren’t the only players, in fact, we’re seeing a growing list of emerging entrants whose capabilities will continue to push innovations in the space. Companies like Whoop who recently expanded beyond a focus on athletic audiences to a larger consumer segment, joining the likes of companies like Oura, a ring alternative to the standard watch-like options and Levels, a CGM sensor-based Wearable that takes a once disease specific technology and broadens it to individuals interested in managing metabolic health for lifestyle reasons.
As leaders both large and small look towards the potential of a patient-empowered tomorrow, the market will continue to transform, creating collaborations that use the connected devices channel to enable access to critical care delivery. At g2o, we believe the progress towards a more patient-centric healthcare practice can drive better outcomes for proactive, preventative medicine. Moving from Cool to Connected is only phase one, we explore the next frontier, the future of Wearables and critical care in Part Two of this series.
Excited about this evolution? Schedule a consultation to discuss the impact of this and other category disruptive trends, via our Healthcare Trends Overview, and align your business strategies with the future of tech enabled medicine.