Digital Health

Wearables, Connectivity Help Consumers Understand and Monitor Health

by Harry Wang | Feb. 25, 2016

According to Parks Associates estimates, about two-thirds of the American population is either overweight or obese. Additionally, 26 million Americans suffer from type I or type II diabetes, almost 14 million have severe chronic respiratory problems such as COPD, and 68 million have been diagnosed with hypertension.

These chronic health problems degrade consumers' quality of life and add significant cost burdens to the U.S. economy. However, modern wearable technologies have opened the door for consumers to better understand and monitor their personal health. Connected weight scales, blood pressure meters (BPMs), and glucometers -- the top three home health monitoring device categories -- represent an accelerating market where consumers benefit from the data these devices provide.

The glucometer market has seen many innovations in recent years. Because diabetes is a high-cost, high-incidence chronic disease, health insurers usually reimburse for the cost of glucometer and test strips/lancets. Previously, four brands -- Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Roche, and Abbott -- dominated the glucometer and test strip market with a collective 80 percent of market shares.

However, the wide profit margin on glucose test strips has lured new entrants into this multi-billion dollar industry. These new players offer innovations that make the glucose testing experience either more affordable or more convenient. Walmart, Target, and Kroger all have introduced their respective store-brand glucometers and test strips, undercutting branded products by more than 50 percent.

Other innovators focus on more portable form factors and more intelligent software features. For instance, traditional glucose testing requires a diabetic patient to carry three items -- a meter, one bottle for lancets and one for test strips -- and involves up to 10 steps to complete the task. Intuity Medical's POGO Automatic System adopts an all-in-one meter design with an embedded cartridge that integrates both strips and lancets, condensing the process to a single step.

On the software side, many meter makers realize that knowledge of glucose data alone is not enough for patients to effectively keep their blood glucose in a safe range; diabetic patients need a care management solution to turn data into insights that guide their daily care tasks. This recognition is also motivated by reimbursement policy changes implemented first by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2013 and quickly followed by private health insurers. Since 2013, the diabetic management solution market has come to life with a bevy of startups and a string of M&A/venture funding and partnership announcements, such as Livongo Health's $20 million funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and WellDoc's integration partnership with Samsung Health.

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Harry Wang

Harry Wang

Senior Director of Research

Harry Wang oversees Parks Associates’ mobility and apps research, which covers mobile/wearable devices and services, apps and APIs, and mobile commerce/marketing, payment, and connected car industries. He is also the founder and lead analyst of Parks Associates’ digital health research program since its inception in 2006. He and his team cover emerging health technologies, applications, and services in areas such as chronic/preventive care, independent living, wellness and fitness, and virtual/convenience care.

Harry has published more than 40 industry reports and white papers and presented his mobility and digital health research at numerous industry events including CES, Mobile World Congress, CTIA, Open Mobile Summit, World Health Congress, the American Telemedicine Association Annual Trade Show, and Parks Associates’ CONNECTIONS™ and Connected Health Summit conferences.

Harry earned his MS degree in marketing research from the University of Texas at Arlington. He also holds an MBA degree in finance from Texas Christian University and a BA degree in international business from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, P.R. China.

Industry Expertise: Digital Health Products and Services, Portable and Mobile Access Platforms and Applications, Digital Imaging Products and Services

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