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Study: Wearable devices can empower patients, but barriers prevent further adoption

Study: Wearable devices can empower patients, but barriers prevent further adoption

Using wearable devices to track health data could empower patients, but there are several barriers to effective use, including the need for provider support.

The review, published in JMIR, analyzed 20 studies published in Europe and the United States that together included more than 7,000 participants. The researchers identified three broad themes: the role of providers and the potential benefits of care, behavior change, and barriers to its use.

On the clinical front, the study found that wearable devices offer real-time data that may be more helpful than patients simply raising concerns at appointments. That data could also be more comprehensive, such as long-term nutrition and activity records. It could also aid in patient education efforts and specifically help people with chronic illnesses feel more supported.

However, the researchers noted that not all health systems perform well at rapidly adopting new technologies. Health professionals likely need more training to encourage engagement and promote behavior change among patients. Continuous monitoring and feedback would also add to your workloads.

Meanwhile, not all consumer wearable devices are calibrated for healthcare use, which could lead to inaccurate data.

But the researchers found that progress monitoring and ongoing feedback could help reinforce behavior change, although this may depend on the context and the patient themselves.

“For wearables to empower people, it would be worth doing a preliminary assessment of people who may need additional support in the form of behavioral counseling. This will help ensure that patients receive adequate support, as they are individuals whose motivational profiles are not matched. with the wearable device may become demotivated and experience negative emotions due to persistent failure to achieve goals,” the study authors wrote.

There are also a number of obstacles to adoption. Although people have said they are willing to use wearable devices, actual usage has been inconsistent. Users sometimes forget to use them, lose them, or simply lose interest.

Design, cost, and technical and privacy issues can also compromise use. The researchers note that some of these concerns may reflect the type of wearable device used in the study, but still need to be addressed to prevent negative perceptions from impeding adoption.

“Sizable findings from the literature suggest that wearable devices can empower people by aiding in diagnosis, behavior change, and self-monitoring. However, increased wearable device adoption and engagement with wearable devices depends on several factors, including vendor promotion and support to encourage adoption. ; – early investment for qualified personnel, particularly in the area of ​​data analysis, and overcoming barriers to use, in particular by improving device accuracy,” they wrote.

“Acting on these suggestions will require constructive investment and input from key stakeholders, namely users, healthcare professionals and technology designers.”


Shipments of wearable devices fell 3% year over year in the first quarter, marking the first drop in the industry, according to a report by International Data Corporation. However, the decline was due to wearable type, with earphones and smartwatches increasing during the quarter, while strap wearables decreased.

There are a number of wearables on the market including Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin Watches, Oura Ring, and Samsung Galaxy Watch. Google also recently revealed that its smartwatch, called the Pixel Watch, is coming this fall.

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