Just before the New Year, the FDA approved a wireless glucometer for integration into a disease management platform (see FDA Clears Johnson & Johnson For Wireless Integration Between Blood Glucose Monitor & WellDoc Diabetes Management Platform). This is just one more option in the consumer technology arsenal. And if you’re like many health and human service executives trying to sort out those options, keep in mind the trend of replacing traditional wearable devices with “invisibles” or “shy tech” — unobtrusive technology that works in the background without notice from consumers themselves or anyone else — which I’ve covered before, Forget Wearables – The New Trend Is Invisibles.
Since we ran that article, we’re already seeing a new wave of “invisibles” in the market. These new technologies mask health care and fitness devices as wearable clothing (such as the GameTraka); jewelry (such as the Altruis); watches (such as The LG Urbane Luxe); and believe it or not, temporary tattoos (see Temp tech tattoos will get us to invisibles).
Consumer uptake of these new technologies is high. Just a few years ago, no one knew what a “fitbit” was. Now it’s a commonplace accessory on the wrist of nearly half of all consumers. The consumer market snapshot published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (see The wearable life 2.0 – Connected living in a wearable world) found:
- 45% of consumers own a fitness band
- 27% own a smart watch
- 14% own a smart video or photo device
- 12% own smart clothing
- 88% believe that wearable technology helps consumers
But for any consumer-related technology to be effective, consumers must both understand it — and use it on a regular basis. Last month, a study from the American Diabetes Association looked at why some consumers were more apt to use devices to manage their diabetes than others (see Diabetes Device Use in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes: Barriers to Uptake and Potential Intervention Targets). The study found that the most common barriers to the use of technology were the “hassle of wearing devices” (47%) and the problem of “disliking devices on one’s body” (35%).
What this study tells us is that no matter how “cool” a new technology is, how much money it saves, or how much it could improve access to care or enhance treatment, if the consumer doesn’t like it they won’t use it. And, I think back to the advice from David C. Mohr, Ph.D., director, Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBIT), and Professor, Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University, at The 2015 OPEN MINDS Technology & Innovation Institute in his presentation, 165,000 Health Care Apps & Counting: What We’ve Learned & Where We’re Going With Digital Mental Health – the key is to have a range of technology options available to consumers that fit their preferences.
These consumer-driven mobile health technologies are essential to consumer engagement and self-care. But the key to success is to understand what you consumers want and incorporate those technologies in your service offerings.
For more, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library, that outline some of the great strategic talking points for your next service line development meeting, including predictions for future tech, recommendations for consumer-focused tech, advice on hiring the staff to manage your tech, and coming up with ways to overcome poor consumer adherence:
- Consumer Health Tech: If You Build It, Will They Come?
- Disrupt Your Own Business Before Someone Else Does
- From iPods To Cloud Computing – 2001 To Now
- After ‘Reinventing’ The CFO, It’s The CIO’s Turn
- The Future Of Care Coordination? It’s Elementary, Watson
- What Is ‘Blockchain’ & What Will It Mean For Your Tech Strategy?
- Planning Your Treatment Tech Investment
- The Problems With Bringing Apps To The Consumer Experience? The Volume, The Evidence & The Model
And for even more, on the use of technology, join us on June 6 at The 2017 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute for the keynote session, “Humana’s Digital Transformation: Redefining The Consumer Health Care Experience” from Jeff Reid, Executive Vice President, Digital Center Of Excellence, Humana.