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Survey finds growing consumer interest in wearables

May 18 2015
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Wearables are making it easier than ever to track how much you eat, sleep, walk, and do a whole lot of health-related activities. And although just a small percentage of people use these devices regularly, many more want to try out a wearable, a new survey from iTriage finds.

iTriage recently asked its mobile app users 20 questions to get a sense of how many people use or want to use wearables, what software they use to track health (with or without a separate wearable), and glean other insights into consumer appetite for the devices. More than 3,000 people participated in the survey. Slightly more than half were female (56 percent), most had health insurance (80 percent), and many tended to be Android users (62 percent).  Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Only 19 percent of those surveyed said they currently track their health with a wearable device or healthcare app
  • 50 percent said they don’t use a health or fitness tracking device, but are interested in using one
  • 33 percent indicated that they do not use one and are not interested

Market adoption: testing a hypothesis
While less than a quarter of its survey respondents currently use wearables, iTriage was curious to know if people are using health care apps from two of the most visible players, Apple and Google. The results: Only 21 percent of respondents said they currently use the Apple Health app to track their health and fitness, and 13 percent said they currently use the Google Fit app to track their health and fitness. What’s more, 27 percent of iOS device users had never heard of Apple Health, and the same number of Android device users had never heard of Google Fit.

Looking for ways to improve health and spend less
What would it take to get you to try a wearable? Many people would look toward the health industry for guidance. The iTriage research suggests that more consumers might use wearables if the devices were recommended by their providers or insurers, specifically:

  • 76 percent report they would be more likely to use a tracking device if a doctor recommends it
  • 68 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to use one if their health insurance company recommends it

Understanding the perks of sharing
People want their doctors and insurers to put wearables’ data to good use, too. Overall, 76 percent of respondents were interested in sharing their tracked data with their health care provider if it helped improve their care. And among those who currently use a wearable device or health app, 70 percent were interested in sharing data with their health care provider if it resulted in lower premiums.

The right reasons
Like other studies, the iTriage survey found that most all groups agreed their primary purpose of using a wearable device or health care app to monitor fitness is to “improve physical fitness.” However, between 15 percent to 30 percent of respondents reported using them to track such things as lab results, medications and vital signs. This is a good indication some “early adopters” see both the health and cost-saving benefits of using wearable health technology for managing chronic illnesses — or detecting warning signs and managing them before they become a problem.

iTriage is a consumer health care technology company within Aetna. For more insight from the Consumer Wearables Survey, you can read coverage in FierceMobileHealthcare and MobiHealthNews, or click below for infographics based on the survey data.

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