Negative feedback on the role of wearables in healthcare can be constructive

Healthcare leaders at the Connected Health Symposium in Boston last week shared some pretty strong viewpoints regarding the value--or lack, thereof--of wearables as effective patient care tools.

For example:

  • Kaiser Permanente Medical Group CEO Robert Pearl, M.D., dismissed wearables' value, describing them as little more than a holiday gift item
  • Stanley Shaw, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital's co-director of the Center for Assessment Technology and Continuous Heath, believes doctors don't need all the data wearables can collect
  • Validic co-founder and CTO Drew Schiller called wearables relatively worthless

Those are some of the harshest criticisms of the market I have heard. And there's no denying that there may be some truth to them.

But, even so, I'm not sure it's time to take such a hard position against a market that is constantly seeing growth.

Wearables are just starting their shift from simple fitness-focused devices to more advanced tools that can track more than just steps and heart rate. More than a few scientific research and industry device reports illustrate there is consumer interest, growing adoption and compelling scenarios where wearables are and will provide substantive patient support in treatment.

What's more, hype isn't necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the wearables hype train is getting longer and louder, but that also helps fuel funding for research, spurs venture capital interest and grows developer involvement--all necessary ingredients in crafting better devices.

Also, while there may be an overload of data right now, which can making pulling out the right information tougher, at least the data is available.

In addition, while the healthcare leaders' feedback was far from positive, that they found it necessary to spend their time on wearables speaks volumes in itself.

I'm hoping that the collective insight isn't taken negatively, but more as wisdom and a reflection on the challenges that need to be tackled to ensure that wearables move in the right direction and prove their worth going forward. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)