Companies continue to develop new features for wearables that blur the line between consumer products and medical devices, a trend that Deloitte predicts will be a dominant theme in 2022.
A new report from the consulting firm predicts that more healthcare improvements are on the horizon for wearables, which might increase their effectiveness in the clinical setting as early as next year.
- Smartwatches that measure blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) will likely become more common, as low SpO2 is a potentially life-threatening symptom that’s hard to detect unassisted.
- Continuous blood pressure monitoring could improve due to advances in photoplethysmography (PPG), Raman spectroscopy, and infrared spectrophotometers.
- Over 10% of smartwatch owners are now using them to detect COVID-19 symptoms, with 15% of smartwatch owners purchasing them after the onset of the pandemic.
Although Deloitte projects total wearables shipments to climb from 320M units in 2022 to 440 units in 2024, it also notes several headwinds that could slow adoption.
- Interoperability is cited as a top priority for provider adoption of new technologies, yet only 10% have integrated data from wearables into their EHR.
- Data privacy remains a concern for 40% of smartwatch owners, a figure that rises to 60% among those who use smartwatches exclusively to track their health.
- Increased regulatory scrutiny is anticipated as smartwatch outputs are integrated into EHRs, with most current devices avoiding HIPAA by collecting data for personal use.
Deloitte does not view these obstacles as insurmountable, and believes that simultaneous advances in sensors, semiconductors, and AI will lead to further innovation. Both big tech and the medical community see a bright future for wearables, and their continued investment could make it “a self-fulfilling prophecy.”