Major Companies Expand Wearable Presence in Everyday life but How Affordable are the Wearables?

Reports that most people who use smartwatches and other wearable devices to track health are white, well-educated, and wealthy.

Transforming the Healthcare Industry 2022 and Beyond

Courtesy of DQIndia.com (2015)

Years ago, Puppala (December 1, 2014) reported that wearables gained the attention of a few tech giants and that the highest potential lies in healthcare. Elder (August 16, 2018) said that The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimate that spending will continue to grow at a rate of 5.5% each year, placing the overall cost at $5.7 trillion by the year 2026.”

Elder (August 16, 2018) mentions, “Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet have all recently released statements describing how they can help transform our health system” and, hopefully, reduce the costs for people annually. Wearables technology is here to stay and has become a part of daily life for many health-aware people (Jones, October 23, 2018).

Wearable technology is devices that can be worn on the body. It may be a watch, bracelet, ring, eyeglasses, necklace, etc. Sparks (February 2, 2018) reported that “there’s no denying that wearables are a major, fast-growing trend in tech. Research company IDC estimates that the overall wearables market will swell from about 113 million shipments in 2017 to 222 million in 2021, nearly doubling in four years.” 

The use and application of wearables are needed to monitor heart rate, breathing rate, and general applications in enhancing clinical trials. Everyone is benefitting from the technology. Or are they?

Looking at the question a little closer, Wetsman (April 26, 2022) reports that “most people who use smartwatches and other wearable devices to track health are white, well-educated, and wealthy” According to a new study, many groups are interested in tracking their health, it is just that the cost of these devices is too high. Unfortunately, the expensive wearable leaves lower-income groups and racial minority groups excluded from research studies that use wearable data.

A study was conducted by researchers (Holko, et al. 2022) at the All of Us Research Program, an initiative at the National Institutes of Health aiming to build a health database that’s representative of the United States. The team is purposefully seeking to include groups historically underrepresented in medical research.

Westman elaborates that the researchers wanted to let program participants send health data directly from Fitbit devices as part of the program. They found that “the demographics of the people who decided to send data were whiter and wealthier than the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the project.” Improving healthcare comes at a cost. More affordable wearables in 2023 and beyond have to become the conscious efforts of the tech giants. The narrative matters.

Looking at the question a little closer, Wetsman, N. (April 26, 2022). Reports that most people who use smartwatches and other wearable devices to track health are white, well-educated, and wealthy. According to a new study, that’s not because other groups aren’t interested in using the devices to keep tabs on their fitness, heart rate, or other metrics. It’s just that the cost of these devices is too high. Unfortunately, the expensive wearable leaves lower-income groups and racial minority groups excluded from research studies that use wearable data.

A study was conducted by researchers (Holko, et al. 2022) at the All of Us Research Program, an initiative at the National Institutes of Health aiming to build a health database that’s representative of the United States. The team is purposefully seeking to include groups historically underrepresented in medical research. The researchers wanted to let program participants send health data directly from Fitbit devices as part of the program. They found that the demographics of the people who decided to send data were whiter and wealthier than the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the project as a whole. Improving healthcare comes at a cost. More affordable wearables in 2023 and beyond have to become conscious efforts of the tech giants. The narrative matters.

References:

Elder, C. (August 16, 2018).  How Major Companies Plan on Transforming the Healthcare Industry. https://www.singlecare.com/blog/how-major-companies-plan-on-transforming-the-healthcare-industry/

Holko, M., Litwin, T. R., Munoz, F., Theisz, K. I., Salgin, L., Jenks, N. P., … & Sharma, Y. (2022). Wearable fitness tracker use in federally qualified health center patients: strategies to improve the health of all of us using digital health devices. npj Digital Medicine, 5(1), 1-6.

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-022-00593-x

Jones, L. (October 23, 2018) Major Companies Expand Wearable Presence in Everyday Life: Transforming the Healthcare Industry. The Transcript. Hopkinsbio.org. Hopkins Biotech Network, Baltimore, Maryland. Major Companies Expand Wearable Presence in Everyday life: Transforming the Healthcare Industry – Hopkins Biotech Network

Puppala, D. (December 1,  2014). Regulatory Standpoint: Wearables and Healthcare. https://hopkinsbio.org/biotechnology/regulatory-standpoint-wearables-healthcare/

Sparks, D. (February 2, 2018). 1 Top Wearables Stock to Buy Now. https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/02/02/1-top-wearables-stock-to-buy-now.aspx

Wetsman, N. (April 26, 2022).Wearables are too expensive for groups underrepresented in medical research. Wearables are too expensive for groups underrepresented in medical research – The Verge


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