Digital technology and data from fitness wearables are igniting the revolution in patient care. With health-oriented devices like Fitbits, Apple Watches, and other innovative healthcare technology, insurers are capitalizing on day-to-day consumer data to improve overall care and lower costs. The growing popularity of smartwatches and trailblazing wearable technology will not only make consumers more health conscious but will lead to overall healthier lives and more developed health insurance offerings.
Here’s how the future of fitness technology will enhance patient care:
The next generation of wearables will go beyond just measuring your heart rate or logging sleep habits. In fact, these applications will surpass the fitness-oriented mindset. They are categorized as health-focused and will organize clinical patient data to offer the best doctor diagnoses. Instead of boosting engagement around simple ways to get more exercise, this real-time consumer data can be used by healthcare companies to manage chronic diseases. How much can these devices really help make us healthier? Innovative healthcare technologies can measure glucose levels without drawing blood at a doctor’s office, take exact biometric readings from a device that fits into your ear, and even distinguish early signs of breast cancer. According to Rally Health, “Powered by health rather than fitness solutions, the wearable device market is expected to nearly quadruple by 2022, from 118 million units in 2016 to 430 million, according to the market intelligence company Tractica.” Health-focused applications and devices will be an enormous driver in the next phase of growth in wearable technology. Director Aditya Kaul in the company’s 2017 Wearable Device Market Forecasts reports, “Wearable device companies that pivot beyond fitness and activity tracking, toward preventing and managing chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart problems will succeed in the long run.”
Lower Healthcare Costs
Health plans have begun implementing wearable devices and integrating their data into insurance programs to subsidize costs. Health Data Management reports, “Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is partnering with Fitbit to make its activity trackers and smartwatches more readily accessible to beneficiaries through a discount and promotion, calling the initiative its Blue365 program.” With BCBSA utilizing Fitbit technology, it encourages members to take an active role in their health, with data-driven metrics. If consumers commit to long-term engagement with their wearable, health plans will see a downstream impact, ultimately lowering costs. These devices are predicted to decline hospital and doctors’ visits. Rally Health reports, “A 2015 study of patients with heart disease found that the inclusion of digital monitoring tools cut follow-up costs by 25 percent.” Using a wearable device to monitor your health and track fitness goals has a substantial impact on insurance payments and time spent on well care visits.
Improved Overall Health
While this newfound digital technology does provide real-time data and decreased healthcare costs, a fitness wearable like Fitbit does have a monumental improvement on consumer health. Smartwatches provide a constant reminder of your vital signs, exercise, diet, and idle time. Having this device on your body 24/7 provides an accurate reading of your biometrics and motivation towards your goals. Fast Company explains, “A cardiologist might ask her congestive heart failure patients to wear a Fitbit to track activity levels and heart rate.” Being able to have this data readily available and easily accessible through a smartwatch helps the patient monitor their heart rate and take control of their overall health. The most popular and trendy smartwatches and health applications offer a thriving social community. Within these virtual clubs, users can issue physical challenges to one another to inspire engagement in exercise. Increased attention to consumers daily activity should result in meaningful lifestyle changes, ultimately leading to improved overall health.
The utilization of real-time data from fitness wearables and smartwatches has a direct effect on health insurance costs, doctor’s/hospital visits, and overall lifestyle choices. If digital technology in the fitness realm blossoms further, consumers will only continue to see concrete benefits in lower costs and optimized lifestyles.
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