Connected Health: Market Movement and Announcements

by Dina Abdelrazik | Aug. 27, 2018

Parks Associates' 5th-annual Connected Health Summit kicks off this week to bring together executives and thought leadership on health technologies as they relate to the Internet of Things. Service providers and smart home manufacturers have the opportunity to provide solutions that address a spectrum of needs and market segments interested in maintaining overall health and well-being—whether a senior looking to age independently in his or her home or a millennial working to stay fit.    

A few market announcements and movements in the market highlight the continued efforts to improve healthcare and consumer wellbeing:

  • Fitbit and Blue Cross Blue Shield Partner – Fitbit is growing its mHealth partnership by bringing its solution to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blue 365 program. This joint venture enables BCBS’s 60 million members access to the device manufacturer’s lineup of trackers and smartwatches. This widens Fitbit’s footprint potential and can help to push wearable adoption forward. Adoption of digital fitness trackers have stayed relatively steady at about 12-14% over the last few years.
  • Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Health Feature Improvements – During the Samsung Unpacked event, it revealed enhancements to its watch that include sleep and stress management. The stress management tool tracks stress by monitoring the user’s heart rate and provides breathing exercises suggestions to bring stress levels down. The watch now also tracks REM cycles to inform users of sleeping patterns. Its fitness tracker capabilities have improved as well to automatically track different types of exercises such as walking vs. running, and has features that allow users to track food and water intake. Fitness tracking is one of the top use cases for smartwatches. 2016 data of smart watch owners reveal that 31% of smart watch owners use the device to track their fitness activities multiple times a day.
  • Amazon and Alexa Healthcare Team – Amazon is reportedly creating a healthcare team under its Alexa division focused on the expansion of the assistant’s health and wellness capabilities. Amazon’s smart speakers have the potential to bring a great deal of value to the heath sector—it currently offers roughly 1K skills in its health and fitness category with  companies like Fitbit, WebMD, and Nokia. Use cases for hands-free control, not only at home, but in a physician’s office or operating room are boundless. Physicians can ask for medical records during a routine check-up without having to look at a computer, a surgeon can call on a nurse when his or her hands are occupied during surgery, and nurses can quickly ask for information during a critical time. Seniors at home also have an opportunity to have an assistant at home that can connect to loved ones without needing to reach for a phone. Although smart speakers are only several years old, almost one in five seniors age 65 and older own a smart speaker. While connected devices and smart home systems can assist seniors and those requiring medical attention, the challenge is to generate adoption and long-term usage of these solutions. In general, seniors or caregivers are unaware of the technological solutions that are available in the market.

From voice technology to wearables, the convergence of health and IoT provides an opportunity for new use cases of devices and enhanced product offerings. As smart home and connected health adoption increases, use cases are expanding beyond the original drivers of security and safety. The connectivity of these devices bring a wealth of knowledge to consumers—fitness, sleep, and wellbeing data help consumers make informed decisions on their lifestyle. As more devices become Internet connected and more data is integrated to reveal insights about how we as humans live and how our environment and personal habits impact our health and wellbeing, consumers will become increasingly engaged with the technology that enables them to lead healthier lives.

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