The rise of wearable health tech

Software, Media & Technology

When buying a gadget, like an Applewatch or Fitbit, you don’t really think about the ways these devices are transforming healthcare. However, there is a lot more to it than we realise. According to Grand View Research, the global wearable technology market size was valued at USD 40.65 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8% from 2021 to 2028.  

The wearable health tech market is predicted to be one of the largest and fastest growing markets of the next decade, according to Med MDS. The key drivers of this market are the consumer-model, cost reductions, and better treatments and resource management.

The traditional model of healthcare is a bit outdated, where a patient sees a doctor, and the doctor recommends treatment based on the limited data they have on the patient. The large sets of available data generated by wearable technologies now make patients the point of care, and allows patients to know more about their healthcare data that they bring to doctors.

Healthtech will allow virtual monitoring of a patient’s health, a huge factor that can save costs and better manage resources on the healthcare side.

The article written by Med MDS brings out a few more factors to wearable health tech, which I will summarise below:

  • Accountability: Digital technologies and combined data enable a more holistic EHR, medical studies, clinical experience, and experience constructing a more holistic medical picture at both the micro and macro level. This is changing the distribution of data and responsibility with the patient as the point of care and engaged in medical decisions. At some point, clinicians will collect wearable and sensor data from their patients as part of routine care.
  • Regulators:  the capabilities of wearables increased, the FDA has grappled with how to regulate the new technology. Originally, wearables were not considered medical devices unless they made claims about treating specific diseases or conditions. However, as the technology of wearables advanced, the FDA regulated some new features.
  • Reimbursement: Reimbursement has taken a while to align with digital tech innovation generally but as the cost-benefit cases begin to build around resource and manpower utilization, payers will be driving the change through reimbursement. Good data analytics and AI will be able to demonstrate that the harder part is changing older health provision and delivery models.
  • Privacy: Beyond regulatory and reimbursement challenges are new and additional legal dynamics for manufacturers marketing their smart wearables. Most prominently, these concern the privacy and security of the processed data. New levels of detail and insight into an individual will be available through the data collected by new devices and this will bring new levels of concern about privacy. There will be additional legal requirements regarding the application of the device, such as the liability for malfunction, the professional regulations of medical users, and the data processed.”

Whilst there are a few kinks to work out in the market, such as regulation and privacy, there is no doubt that this consumer-led approach to healthcare will be popular amongst users. As the article states, “a greater focus on health and wellness and a growing elderly population will see fitness, remote monitoring and personalized medicine as key sectors of growth but the arrival of more therapeutic applications will accelerate growth dramatically.”

At Polestar, an important sector that we cover is health tech. If you would like more details in this space, or need help on growing your business, please reach out!  

By Anusheh Khan on 04/11/2022