New research: Why patients quit their wearables

wearable smartwatch
Many patients abandon wearable device shortly after receiving them.

People with higher satisfaction in their lives are more likely to stick with wellness programs that include wearables, according to a new study. It also looked at why other people give up. 

Researchers at the University of Southern California wanted to dive into personality and lifestyle traits that make people continue to use wearables and apps longer than the average, which is about six months, according to a blog post published in NEJM Catalyst.

Researchers monitored 275 people through a fitness tracker embedded in a pair of prescription eyeglasses that the patients wore for 15 weeks.

Patients may stop using wearables when they reach their fitness goals, or because they find the devices unattractive or uncomfortable to wear. Sometimes they simply forget, according to the post.

RELATED: Interest in wearables mounts, but user engagement and clinical evidence struggle to keep pace 

The researchers said incentives and self-focused measures are equally effective motivators. Future wearable tech should be designed with this in mind, and should target patient's self-improvement goals, according to the blog post. 

"It is the responsibility of medical professionals, designers and researchers to create a user experience around the hardware and software components of the sensor that is compelling enough to help people realize these goals," the researchers said. 

RELATED: Unreliable wearable data puts physicians in a bind 

Providers are digging into the most effective ways to leverage wearable technology, including applying it to care for chronic conditions. More patients are using digital health tools ranging from telehealth to wearable devices, but physicians still find the data generated from those tools untrustworthy and overwhelming

Another sticking point: the price. Many patients who might benefit from the tech can't afford it. Some groups are forging ahead to increase use anyway, like Aetna and Apple, who are partnering to bring Apple Watches to Aetna enrollees.