Wearables – US Digital Health Market


The digital health market in the US is quite volatile for a combination of regulatory, political and economic factors. However, it can still be useful to reflect on a market characterised by patient choice and advanced wearables, mHealth and eHealth offerings. 

A recently-published survey of around 4,000 adult patients in the US gives a snapshot of the health of digital healthcare. It’s the third annual survey by Rock Health, a digital health venture fund, and reports patient views gathered in 2017.

What do patients say they use most?

Looking back over three years of data, patients say they:

  • Search online health information (71% 2015 – 79% 2017)
  • Use `mobile tracking’, for example through apps (17% 2015 – 24% 2017)
  • Use wearables for health, such as Apple Watch (13% 2015 – 24% 2017)

Overall, the survey concludes that:

“…the percentage of respondents adopting at least one digital health tool increased from 80% in 2015 to 87% in 2017” – Rock Health survey.

Even in the hardest group to engage with digital health – who the researchers classified as “chronically ill seniors aged 65+” with one or more chronic diseases, 73% of patients searched online for health information.

Satisfaction high, but not sustained

Focusing on wearables, most patients who used them felt quite strongly that these helped them to achieve their goals. Working with a scale of 1 to 10, patients consistently scored wearables above `7’ in helping them to address four types of common health goals:

  • Be physically active (rated 7.9 out of 10)
  • Manage stress (rated 7.7 out of 10)
  • Sleep better (rated 7.5 out of 10)
  • Lose weight (rated 7.1 out of 10)

While acknowledging these high satisfaction levels the researchers noted:

“While encouraging, innovators still have much to do to ensure sustained engagement that helps consumers achieve meaningful health outcomes.” – Rock Health survey

It also appears that achieving a health goal can be an even stronger motivation to stop using a wearable than failing:

  • Nearly 30% of users discontinued after achieving their intended goal
  • 20% discontinued because they felt the wearables were ineffective in helping them to achieve their health goals. 
Sharing data

The survey confirmed an expected strong correlation between a patient’s confidence in data security and their willingness to share their health data with different stakeholders.

For example:

  • Physicians scored highest with 86% of patients willing to share, and 87% having confidence in their data security
  • Pharmaceutical companies were less trusted, with 21% of patients willing to share, and 35% having confidence in their data security
  • Tech companies scored lowest with 10% of patients willing to share, and 24% having confidence in data security.

The research team concluded that:

“…respondent confidence in data security of tech companies declined from 31% in 2016 to 24% in 2017 (and may decline further if press about major data breaches continues)” – Rock Health survey


Find out more about the survey, and review charts and infographics…

Click here

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