According to a report published this week, people are increasingly using wearable devices to become healthier and accessing websites for their digital health information.
It claims that digital health has reached its highest peak, and more people are willing to pay for premium health solutions and willing to share their data with providers.
The report, from San Francisco-based company Rock Health, surveyed more than 4,000 consumers. 46 percent said they actively adopt digital health tech, covering telemedicine, wearables and apps.
Digital health growth
This statistic is up by 19 percent compared to last year’s report. That’s not the only stark finding, though. Consumers are also downloading digital health apps based on the recommendations received from doctors.
Users are most interested in apps that record physical activity and fitness, with this being at 44 percent. Heart rate came in at second (32 percent), while blood pressure (14 percent) and medication recording (10 percent) were the least popular.
Digital health technology is making the biggest impact in the United States, with almost a quarter of Americans now owning a wearable product – an increase of 12 percent on 2015 statistics. The most popular devices are manufactured by Samsung, Fitbit and Apple.
A number of health professionals were surveyed in the report too. They believe that the popularity of wearables could grow even further if companies think about integrating them with personal healthcare information.
Data privacy is the biggest concern for users. While they’re willing to share some of their information to benefit from this technology, 87 percent said they want to know who has access to their data, while 86 percent want to know what’s actually collected.
20 percent of consumers have already asked for copies of their electronic records, corresponding to privacy and security concerns. That said, 77 percent are still willing to share their data. Trusted individuals include family and doctors, while Google has been ranked as the most trusted tech company.
Related: NHS to rely on mobile apps and wearables
In terms of industry growth, the report claims that 2016 has been the year of telemedicine. This area of digital health has grown from 7 percent to 22 percent in the past year. However, phone, text and email are still the most popular modes for health purposes.
Satisfaction rates are at a record high too. The report found that 75 percent of consumers are happy with the platforms they use, and they’re also interested in emerging technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality.
The report author wrote: “Consumers of healthcare have historically been one step removed from the industry. Most often positioned as passive stakeholders, consumers are faced with complex and asymmetrical information in a system plagued with rising prices and higher deductibles.
“As patient-driven care gradually replaces a culture of medical paternalism, patients are increasingly in the driver’s seat of their own health. And just as the Internet has changed the way we learn, communicate, shop, bank, and work, so too is it changing the way we manage our own health and healthcare.
“Americans are more altruistic than they are greedy. More people would freely share their health data to contribute to research (62 percent) than would share their data in exchange for money (42 percent).”
Rise of wearables
Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of EU Automation, believes that 2017 will see the rise of wearables in a number of different industries. Healthcare is one of them.
“The popularity of wearable tech in consumer markets is rapidly increasing; from fitness trackers to smart watches, wearable gadgets are everywhere,” he said.
“These devices can integrate real time data and information without hassle. 2017 could see an increasing number of wearable technologies. One benefit of this would be that equipment operators can have real time access to more data.”
It’s a claim we often hear, but there are studies currently doing the rounds that suggest otherwise. A recent Gartner study, for example, found that the abandonment rate for smartwatches and fitness trackers is at 29 and 30 percent respectively. And more specifically, a poll from Ipsos has found that adoption rate of connected health devices in particular is a lot lower than expected.
Perhaps, then, the potential value to be extracted from wearables is clear, but there are barriers to adoption that have not yet been resolved.
Related: Who’s on first? Identification and wearables change insurance