Wellness programs will spur wearables adoption in workplace

A new Tractica report projects more than 75 million wearable devices will be deployed in enterprise and industrial environments between 2014 and 2020, with smartwatches leading the way.

The research firm's report, "Wearable Devices for Enterprise and Industrial Markets," cites corporate wellness programs as the top driver for adoption.

While the study does not include adoption trends in the healthcare industry, Tractica's lead wearables analyst and research director told FierceMobileHealthcare the healthcare industry will see wearables adoption growth as well.

Healthcare will account for 8 percent of wearable device shipments by 2020, with 15.1 million devices being offered by a provider, Aditya Kaul said in an email interview. He added that healthcare is a relatively new wearables segment that is maturing.

Kaul defines wearables as devices provided by a healthcare provider or insurance provider. He says an incentive approach, compared to a premium discount strategy, is proving to be a viable adoption plan by providers.

"A rewards-based approach is proving to be successful in the corporate wellness space, which is seeing a lot of innovation," he said.

Kaul, however, noted that substantial adoption challenges remain, such as data protection, user privacy concerns and regulatory oversight.

"Having spoken to a number of wearable device vendors, most are concerned about the certification of devices as a Class 1 medical device for pure medical use. The processes take a long time and are complicated," he writes. In addition, the challenges are a main reason most wearable vendors are focusing on the consumer and sports market.

"This is definitely one reason why wearables are staying out of healthcare for the most part, however, we are likely to see healthcare providers and doctors opening up to consumer class devices feeding in data," Kaul says. "The fact that sports teams and Olympians rely on wearables for training suggests that accuracy is getting better and will only improve," adds the lead analyst.

A recent Parks Associates study claims adoption of wearables is contingent on boosting consumer education regarding the mHealth tools and the increasing use of smartphones. The research firm expects global revenue of connected fitness trackers will rise from last year's more than $2 billion to $5.4 billion by 2019.

In light of Apple's new Watch and its HealthKit platform, Kaul says the tech giant is taking an "interesting approach" to mHealth wearables.

"There have been a number of trials in the U.S. recently where there has a been a positive response to HealthKit. The Apple Watch will be an obvious driver for data into the HealthKit platform, collecting data on a 24 by 7 basis in many cases," he says.

For more information:
- read the Tractica announcement
- read the report executive summary

Related Articles:
Connected fitness trackers to double by 2019
Homeland Security Department, tech accelerators team up on first responder wearables
Wearables must align to consumer needs for longtime adoption