Runner training and using heart rate monitor smart watchLast week we discussed one of the customer experience trends highlighted by Richard Shapiro in his article “Customer Trends for 2016” in Customer Think magazine.  This week we are taking a look at a second projected trend from the article – Wearable Technology.

Wearable technology, while often trendy and marketed for its aesthetic, is a valuable tool whose current and future capabilities for positive impact on healthcare are ever expanding. This increasingly popular technology is defined by anything from devices worn to track your fitness activity and health rates, to monitoring devices that feed directly into telemedicine technology – such as in-home devices that monitor through two-way communication the movements of Alzheimer’s patients.

11866bef93dfdcb90b9e8353597f39dbThis past week at CES 2016 Wearable Tech was one of the hottest topics and discussions of the week.  Three wearable techs that caught the attention of consumers and industry were; WiseWear, Huawei Watch, and Digitsole. WiseWear is a new line of luxury smart jewelry that keeps you connected, safe, and well, by looking chic. Huawei Watch’s website states, “Finally, there is a stylish smartwatch for smart, stylish people. Inspired by the classic designs of luxury watches, with cutting-edge technology, the Huawei Watch redefines what we’ve come to expect from a smartwatch.” Spotlighted on the Today Show this morning, Smartshoes. Smartshoes are connected, interactive, heated, and shock absorbent with automatic tightening that can be controlled via your smartphone. This innovative footwear product is designed for your health and comfort. With 3 different designs, there is always one Smartshoe to match your style.

digitsole

Wearables, are fast becoming standard recommendation by physicians and insurance companies as a way of engaging the user in a more connected, accountable and ultimately less costly health experience. Organizations frequently offer rewards for users who upload their fitness outcomes from wearables, such as the charting of weight loss, reductions in blood pressure and increased workouts. That said, current statistics reveal that a majority of the users of wearable technology are already healthy, or seriously health minded.

The demographic that stands to benefit most from a deeper engagement with their personal health, often cannot afford the most relevant devices carrying price tags exceeding $100, or the consumer has not yet connected the device’s value with their overall health management experience. There is great opportunity here. The wearable technology industry has yet to address a multitude of innovative, cost-effective uses for this critical consumer who that stands to benefit greatly from expanding wearable technology’s reach – both educationally and economically.

The Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions projects that by the year 2020, wearable health technology will be directly connected to and monitoring the consumer’s quality of life. In the health marketplace of 2016, we already see a movement Health tracking. Keyboardtoward the delivery of a more unique, comprehensive and connected health care experience for seniors and those patients who are housebound. Remote monitoring is actively used within patient homes – connecting them to their physicians and allowing insight into their real-time health status. What is projected, however, is an even deeper connection with the health care consumer. It is predicted that smartphone and tablet devices will be integrated to communicate with one another through applications and across platforms – efficiently transferring vital information, retaining pertinent data and analyzing not just medical statistics for the patient, but providing a 360-degree view of their quality of life – to include mental and emotional.

A surge of health care related application development for wearables is driving popularity as well. According to the PWC Health Research Institute’s annual report for 2016, the download of health care related applications to smartphone devices has doubled within the past two years, with 32% of consumers downloading at least one app last year. This increase is related directly to the millennials who, having been raised in the digital revolution, prefer virtual communication and are increasingly demanding more control over their health information and health care outcomes. This need for more virtual solutions, smarter and more intuitive devices stands to only increase and eventually become a necessity in health management.

As the technology advances in both app and smart device development, organizations in the healthcare sector should focus on finding ways to tie in these advancements for the demographics outside of the technology’s current reach. For instance, people in low-income circumstance who need to be connected virtually to caregivers, or people who are not currently actively engaged in their health care experiences but who offer the greatest potential for successful, empathy-driven innovation. Smartphones have become easily attainable – Composite image of businessman using smartphonethe potential for connecting the consumer to their health management is easier than ever before.

Discovering and delivering affordable, engaging solutions for the health care experience consumer, as well as, providing equitable outcomes for the investor is the key to success in this exciting trend.  Much like health care delivery as a whole, the sweet spot is identifying the gaps and creating solutions that are unique, using cutting edge technology and which ultimately serve to provide a better quality of life for the consumer.

Sources: Top Health Industry Issues of 2016 – Thriving in the New Economy, PCW Health Research Institute and Healthcare Life and Sciences Predictions 2020 – A Bold Future?, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions

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