Weak spots of mHealth devices was a thread that ran through many of the talks during last week's Connected Health Symposium in Boston.
For instance, Robert Pearl, CEO of Kaiser Permanente's Permanente Medical Group, said wearables, such as fitness trackers, aren't viable tools for medical care, but called them good holiday gifts, according to MedCity News.
During another panel, focused on how wearable-collected data could mesh with clinical database info, Validic co-founder and chief technology officer Drew Schiller described wearables' abilities as "relatively worthless," saying that the data often is not actionable.
That view was echoed by Stanley Shaw, M.D., co-director of the Center for Assessment Technology and Continuous Health at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Physicians don't need all the data," he said, according to MedCity News. "They just need the right data at the right time to take action."
Perhaps the most biting criticism of wearables came from Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., vice provost for global initiatives and chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. In his keynote, Emanuel said the increasing interest and media coverage of wearables has been all hype, hype that he added was being deflated by controversy raging around digital health startup Theranos.
"I think you can forget about wearables for the masses," Emanuel said. "Investing in them is not going to pay off."
Despite those comments, the wearables market continues to see growth. In addition, a recent Tractica report predicts that they will soon include more than smartwatches and fitness trackers, but that there will be a focus shift to user interface design, analytics capabilities and a clearer value proposition that will drive adoption.