Reports Detail Consumer Concerns, Expectations for Wearables

October 22, 2014 in News

U.S. consumers are optimistic about the future of wearable health technology, but many have privacy and security concerns, according to two reports released by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, Healthcare IT News reports (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 10/21).

Report Details

The reports are based on data from a nationally represented online survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by PwC (PwC report, 2014). Survey respondents were asked about their wearable use and adoption, their willingness to use different devices for different purposes and any concerns related to the technology (Comstock, MobiHealthNews, 10/21).

According to Modern Healthcare‘s “Vital Signs,” wearables include a broad range of devices, such as fitness bands that monitor activity and sleep patterns and flexible patches that measure a person’s vital signs (Tahir, “Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 10/21).

Findings

The reports found that the current overall adoption and use of wearable devices is low but that it is expected to grow over the next decade (Healthcare IT News, 10/21). For example, the reports found that 21% of survey respondents owned a wearable tracking device. Of those:

  • 10% reported wearing it on a daily basis;
  • 7% reported wearing it a few times per week;
  • 2% reported wearing it a few times a month; and
  • 2% said they no longer wear the product.

According to the reports, nearly half of respondents said their employers should fund wearable technology. Further, the reports showed respondents were less inclined to pay out of pocket for certain devices. For example:

  • 72% of respondents said they would use an employer-purchased smartwatch, compared with 42% who would pay $100;
  • 63% said they would use an employer-purchased fitness band, compared with 38% who would pay $100; and
  • 51% said they would use employer-purchased smart glasses, compared with 27% who would pay $100 (MobiHealthNews, 10/21).

In addition, 68% of respondents said they would wear employer-provided wearables if they received a financial incentive (“Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 10/21).

Respondents also identified the top three types of information they want from wearables:

  • 77% wanted help with exercise;
  • 75% wanted the devices to collect and track medical data; and
  • 67% wanted help with nutrition.

When asked about the future of wearable technology:

  • 56% of respondents said they believed wearable technology would extend our lifespans by 10 years;
  • 42% said the technology would dramatically improve average athletic ability; and
  • 46% said the technology would help reduce obesity rates.

Meanwhile, a majority of respondents cited concerns with wearable technology:

  • 86% said the devices could increase vulnerability to security breaches;
  • 82% said the devices could invade their privacy; and
  • 72% said the devices could hurt individuals’ ability to relate to one another (MobiHealthNews, 10/21).

The reports concluded that in order to overcome these concerns and boost adoption rates, wearables will have to be “interoperable, integrated, engaging, social and outcomes-driven” (Healthcare IT News, 10/21).

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