These days, there are very few places you can go without seeing a Fitbit, Jawbone Up or even an Apple Watch. With 1 in 5 Americans owning a fitness tracker, wearable technology is becoming a part of our everyday life.
Having owned both a Fitbit and a Jawbone, I am one of the many who have hopped on this health tracking bandwagon over the past few years. Like others, I enjoy the challenge of exceeding my step and workout goals, seeing a breakdown of my sleeping patterns and having something to hold me accountable on the days where bingeing on Netflix is much more appealing than running.
A lot of people are skeptical how long the wearable technology trend will last, since a third of the people who buy wearable health devices stop using them within six months. Healthcare professionals, on the other hand, see fitness trackers as a great opportunity for the industry.
Currently these trackers monitor things like steps, fitness, sleep patterns and heart rate, but as technology continues to develop, so will the trackers. Physicians are already using
fitness trackers to help cardiac-surgery patients and patients with diabetes. According to IMS Research, the market for wearable medical devices is projected to account for at least half of all wearable technology sales by 2016.
Clearly the opportunities for physicians are growing, but what about health payers? Healthcare costs are continually on the rise, so how can payers use the data collected from fitness trackers to reduce costs?
Premiums have a habit of going up each year as we get older, but trackers would allow these costs to be evaluated on a daily basis. Then costs could be based on the person’s activity levels, which could potentially prove someone to be healthier than the aggregated profiles that insurers tend to use to create our premiums.
A few years ago, Cigna launched pilot initiatives with four of its U.S. employer health plan clients representing 1,600 American workers at risk for diabetes. Early results showed a number of the employees improved their risk profiles by wearing a fitness tracker.
Other employers are also jumping on the bandwagon, as many now have rewards for being active and adopting a healthy lifestyle – Wellness Wednesday, anyone? Here at PadillaCRT, we’re used to the weekly email asking if we achieved our goals, but what if wellness achievements could be tracked by a company dashboard instead? Fitbit’s sales to employers are one of the fastest growing parts of its business. With thousands of employers already purchasing discounted trackers in bulk, this trend might just be here to stay.