PwC report: Wearables continue to face obstacles, but consumers show interest

Consumers are showing interest in mHealth wearables, but true adoption will only come when device makers offer affordable solutions that provide greater value, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute report.

The report reveals that 20 percent of American adults own a wearable, and one in 10 uses it every day. However, of those who bought a mHealth wearable over a year ago, 33 percent are no longer using the device. One reason for the drop-off in use is unfulfilled expectations, according to PwC.

"Simple social strategies might not work well for health wearables. Few consumers are interested in sharing health data with friends and family. Social media strategies for health wearables must be engaging, interoperable and intelligent if they are to succeed," according to the report's authors.

Some medical experts share that view. David Lee Scher, M.D., recently said that today's smartwatches are a fad and won't be in the mix when other mHealth tech takes root.

Yet, the PWC report says more than 80 percent of respondents said they believe mHealth wearables can make healthcare more convenient, and wearables, overall, can help improve safety regarding child and foster a healthier lifestyle.

The PwC research also reveals that most consumers don't want to pay big money for a mHealth wearable. The cost obstacle was also noted in a Technology Advice survey regarding wearable adoption, with 17.7 percent citing cost as a prime reason for not using a device or app.

But 68 percent of the report's respondents also said they are interested in being paid or receiving insurance premium discounts if they wear a device. 

The top wearable adoption hurdles, according to PwC, are data security, privacy and transparency by device vendors regarding data use. Of those polled, 82 percent are concerned about privacy invasion and 86 percent believe the devices make them more vulnerable in terms of security breaches.

"Wearable data can be used by insurers and employers to better manage health, wellness and healthcare costs, by pharmaceutical and life sciences companies to run more robust clinical trials, and by healthcare providers to capture data to support outcomes-based reimbursement. But it will be critical to address the consumer concerns that we've identified, such as cost, privacy, and ease of use," Vaughn Kauffman, principal at PwC Health Industries, said in an announcement

But the wearables market is still set to skyrocket. A recent Soreon Research report predicts the wearable healthcare segment will soar from today's $2 billion to $41 billion by 2020.

For more information:
- read the study announcement
- download the PwC report
- check out chart statistics regarding mHealth wearables