This year has brought disruption to virtually every industry, and wearables are no exception. The 2020 wearables trends reflect changing demand, rapid innovation, and increased attention on overall health and wellness. COVID-19 has showcased the gaps that exist in remote healthcare capabilities, and many health tech companies are turning to wearables to assist in tracking cases, detecting early warning signs, and monitoring patients from a distance.
As the global pandemic has caused the general population to think more seriously about their overall health, major players in the wearables market such as FitBit, Apple, and Amazon are rolling out more advanced analytics and high-tech features that connect seamlessly across multiple devices. The gradual shift in the healthcare industry from service-based to value-based opens the door for wearables to play a key role in addressing the biggest issues our healthcare system will face in the coming years. As the demand for smarter and more secure wearables increases, leading companies will determine how to gain long-term user buy-in and utilize technology advancements to shape the next evolution of wearable devices.
2021 Wearables Trends
Trend #1: Adapting to COVID-19 Challenges
The novel coronavirus has had a huge impact on the way healthcare is able to be delivered. High risk populations include the elderly and immunocompromised, which are precisely the populations that would be seeing their physicians regularly. This is driving the need for remote monitoring capabilities and alternatives to in-person visits, creating the opportunity for wearables to support the seamless integration of telemedicine into the patient’s home. The ability of wearables to monitor patients’ health statistics in real time and integration with IoT technology allowing for accelerated insights to providers without having to see the patient in person.
There has also been promise in the use of wearables to identify and track COVID-19 symptoms. Fitbit recently announced that their wearable devices were able to detect approximately 50% of coronavirus cases one day before study participants reported symptoms. If the disease can be detected early enough, big gains will be made in limiting the spread and protecting public safety.
Long-term patient and provider buy-in to wearables and telemedicine will revolve around ease of use and an understanding of added value. Oftentimes, physicians are inundated with data that doesn’t fit in with their workflow. This leads to a lack of guidance to patients about how and when to use a wearable, highlighting the importance of advanced analytics to assist both patient and provider in understanding their data.
In April, 43.5% of primary care visits were provided via telemedicine, versus 0.1% in February.
Trend #2: Applications in Clinical Trials
Having a thorough understanding of the effects of a drug or medical device throughout the clinical trial process is of utmost importance to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Wearables create an avenue for generating and leveraging large data sets that are increasingly being used to provide better insights to treatment monitoring and efficacy. Wearables can cover a variety of different clinical trial applications, from the early detection of adverse events to quality of life tracking. Expanding data collection beyond the scope of a traditional clinical touchpoint combined with advanced analytics and artificial intelligence can showcase subtle effects that may not have been noticed otherwise.
Additionally, wearables can make the clinical trial experience a more positive one for the participants by lowering the frequency and duration of visits to the clinic. Overall, the use of wearables in clinical trials will improve trial effectiveness and enhance developer insights.
Increasing movement of traditional fitness trackers into the FDA-approved monitoring space is making wearable use in clinical trials easier and more accessible for patients. Smarter and more efficient drug development is where the future is headed, and leading pharmaceutical and medical device companies will leverage the breadth of data that wearables provide to gain real-time patient insights during their clinical trials.
70% of clinical trials will incorporate wearable sensors by 2025.
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Contributions by Taylor Slack.