Twenty million wearable devices were sold last year and over 10% of the US population now has a wearable. And, we expect wearables to top many wish-lists this holiday season. Wearable adoption is well past the early adopter phase and is going mainstream with health and fitness devices leading the way. People want to track and quantify their exercise patterns, and feel that these devices help motivate them to exercise more. And, this is just the beginning.
Marketers love wearables
Interesting competitive dynamics are taking place here. Existing marketers and manufacturers see contextual advertising opportunities based on activity – think a sports drink ad that pops up only after 30 minutes of exercise, or an adventure travel company that targets frequent hikers. But a crop of non-traditional tech competitors are emerging and disrupting everything from weight management to blood glucose measurement to emergency care.
Payers love wearables
With health budgets being overrun much everywhere, payers are paying attention to devices that could help track and influence both health and healthy behaviours. Healthy PatientConsumers make for more profitable ones, and thus the opportunity to reward healthy behaviour (and potentially penalize unhealthy ones) intrigues many payers. John Hancock Insurance, for example, already provides discounts and merchandise offers for living a healthy lifestyle. Think diabetes management, smoking cessation, weight loss, and more.
Employers love wearables
Beyond obvious insurance cost reduction benefits, employee health is increasingly important for progressive organizations as healthier employees tend to be happier and more productive. A new wave of sponsored wellness programs brings about healthier outcomes by measuring employee health, providing employees with better self-management tools, and incentivizing healthier behaviours. This is clearly a win-win situation for both employers and employees.
Health professionals: exercise more but don’t deluge me with data
Patients would love to share their fitness tracking data with doctors, for example, but doctors aren’t keen on the idea. Combing through data takes too much time – a luxury HCPs simply don’t have. The biggest worry, though, is managing patient privacy; and today’s hodgepodge health IT infrastructure doesn’t make it easy to do so. Still, HCPs are excited by the promise of wearables and how they may flag and drive patient behaviour.
Where is the opportunity for brands?
- Predictive Analytics: There is so much more than shiny objects and new hardware that appeals to brands here. Specifically, the opportunity with wearables may well be in creating innovative services that reach people in their moments of need. For example, Vivametrica analyzes data from a variety of wearable devices – including consumer fitness trackers – and applies algorithms to help predict future health states like diabetes and heart disease. It wouldn’t be difficult to devise algorithms that sit on devices, apps or EMR platforms to identify potential AEs with biologic drugs, or patient staging in diabetes, or worsening heart health in at-risk patients, etc.
- Think real-time activation – reach customers in their wearable moment: Don’t start by designing a wearables “strategy”. Instead, start with the PatientConsumer journey – a sophisticated one – analyze it deeply, and identify key micro moments for engagement and activation, i.e. those moments where PatientConsumers seek and need a quick piece of information. Then, identify how one – or many – wearables can help engage and support the PatientConsumer in real time.
- Test & learn – fast: Let’s be clear – wearables are not a fad. Marketers and manufacturers need to start thinking of these as potentially valuable tools, whether to understand or affect PatientConsumer behaviour. At Ariad, we are conducting our own wearable research to understand how these devices can help people achieve their goals. In turn, we can help our healthcare clients better engage and manage their PatientConsumers for better health outcomes. Early on, research is showing that wearables are powerful devices in driving self-awareness and identifying micro moments. Stay tuned for more from the Ariad team and make sure to think about wearable opportunities as part of your 2016 planning.
Written by Jason Dojc, a Senior Digital Strategist at Ariad Communications, and David R. Kille, PhD., a Researcher at Ariad Communications.
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