Study: Wearables can empower patients, but barriers prevent more adoption

Using wearables to monitor health data can empower patients, but there are several barriers to effective use, including the need for provider support.

Assessment form, published year JMIR, analyzed 20 studies published in Europe and the United States that included more than 7,000 participants. The researchers found three overarching themes: the role of providers and potential benefits for care, promoting behavior change, and barriers to use.

From a clinician’s perspective, research shows that wearables that provide real-time data can prove more useful than patients who simply announce their concerns at appointments. That data could also be more comprehensive, like long-term records of activity and nutrition. It can also support patient education efforts and especially help people with chronic conditions feel more supported.

However, the researchers note that not all health systems have a good track record of adopting new technologies quickly. Healthcare workers will probably need more training to encourage participation and promote behavior change among patients. Continuous monitoring and feedback will also add to their workload.

Meanwhile, not all consumer wearables are calibrated for healthcare use, which can lead to inaccurate data.

But the researchers found that monitoring progress and continuously providing feedback can help promote behavior change, although that may depend on the context and the patient themselves.

“For wearables to empower individuals, a preliminary assessment should be made of individuals who may require additional support in the form of behavioral counseling. This will help ensure that patients receive appropriate support, as individuals with motivational profiles are not suitable for wearables, the study’s authors write.

There are also some barriers to adoption. Although individuals indicated they were willing to use wearable devices, actual usage was inconsistent. Users sometimes forget to wear it, lose it or simply don’t care.

Design, cost and technical issues, and privacy may also affect use. The researchers point out that some of these concerns may reflect the type of wearables used in the study, but they still need to be addressed to prevent negative perceptions from preventing uptake.

“Remarkable literature findings suggest that wearables can empower individuals by assisting with diagnosis, behavior change, and self-monitoring. However, adoption is more than wearables. Gain and engagement with wearable devices depends on a variety of factors, including advertising and support from vendors to encourage adoption; short-lived – periodic investment to improve technology staff capabilities, especially in the area of ​​data analytics; and overcome usage barriers, particularly by improving instrument accuracy,” they wrote.

“Actioning on these recommendations will require investment and input from key stakeholders, namely users, healthcare professionals, and technology designers.”


Shipment of wearable devices 3% decrease compared to the same period last year in the first quarter, marking the industry’s first decline, according to a report by International Data Corporation. However, the decline depends on the type of wearable, as headphones and smartwatches actually increased during the quarter, while wearables fell.

There are several wearable devices on the market, including Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin Watchthe Round Oura and Samsung Galaxy Watch. Google too recently revealed Its own smartwatch, called the Pixel Watch, will launch this fall.

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