Today, 1 in 5 Americans (21 percent) own a piece of wearable technology, including glasses, watches, sports bands, or some sort of wearable device that attaches to clothing, according to a new PwC report, The Wearable Future. It’s not surprising to hear that the majority of millennials (53 percent) — who comprise the majority of “digital natives” — say they are “excited” about the future of wearables.
Consumers surveyed said one of the key advantages of wearable tech is the ensuing health benefit. More than 80 percent said they believe that wearables could improve health care. Like syncing health data such as vital signs and weight to a doctor’s office, for example, or receiving discounts on monthly health insurance premiums for maintaining healthy living.
While wearable technology is in its infancy, some health-related brands, like Walgreens, are getting a headstart in growing the health benefits offered by wearables. More than 1.8 million Walgreens customers are currently sharing their health and fitness data with the retailer’s Balance Rewards program. In exchange for running a mile or tracking weight loss, customers earn points that can be used as cash towards making in-store and online purchases. Walgreens’ successful integration of wearables into their customer experience has in turn grown customer loyalty and fundamentally changed their relationship with customers from transactional — that is, simply selling health and wellness products — to a partnership in their customers’ journey to wellness.
Wearable devices such as FitBit and next year’s Apple Watch, as well as incentive programs like Walgreens Balance Rewards, are making the first strides towards improving health and wellness through wearables. Ultimately, however, the success of wearable health technology will be determined by cost, security, convenience, and the consumers themselves. The wearable health experience will need to fit seamlessly into their daily lives. And the associated incentives will need to be enticing enough to motivate people to lace up their sneakers and pick up healthier habits.
Corey Schwartz is the Managing Director of Communispace Health, which is dedicated to helping pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic, and insurance companies move confidently towards a more patient-centric approach – securely and privately.