Personal Health Devices Gaining Popularity, Study Finds

IBM survey predicts a bullish marketplace for personal devices that measure health issues like dieting, elder care, blood monitoring, and independence and mobility.

by / July 5, 2011
Doctor/Health Care/Physician

Devices that keep track of health and wellness are gaining popularity and are becoming more expected among users, according to a new study by the IBM Institute for Business Value.

The report, “The Future of Connected Health Devices,” revealed that the 1,300 people surveyed are increasingly turning to technology to manage various health issues and wellness goals. In addition, the study showed that consumers will seek gadgets that will give them the ability to connect more readily with physicians and health-care providers.

“People want to take a more active role in managing their health care - both to reduce costs and improve their quality of life,” said Katherine Holland, general manager of IBM Life Sciences in a statement. “Device makers have a great opportunity to fulfill this need - but to be successful they must partner to ensure they have the blend of skills, consumer understanding and health-care expertise.”

The survey also revealed that more than 30 percent of current health device users are expecting to chip in to pay for new technology during the next two years. In addition, 35 percent felt a monthly service fee to use such devices is on the horizon.

IBM scientists and health-care experts chimed in about a variety of new devices coming down the pipeline, including those that will focus on dieting, elder care, blood monitoring, independence and mobility, and enhanced nonverbal communication.

Factors device users want to see in upcoming health gadgets include:

• Ease of use. Ninety-six percent said ease of use is the top factor in selecting one device over another.

• Reasonable pricing. Costs at or below $100 is a critical decision factor, according to 75 percent of users who consider price ahead of features, support, warranty or design.

• Real-time information sharing. Eighty-six percent of consumers want real-time, easy-to-understand feedback from devices.

 “As the health-care market continues to grow, we envision a marketplace of products, devices and services that empower consumers to better care for themselves and to connect seamlessly with their health-care providers,” said Chuck Parker, executive director of Continua Health Alliance, an open industry organization of health-care and technology companies, in a press release. “The collaboration of companies within the health-care industry is essential in creating these new reliable, cost-effective personal health solutions.”

A copy of the study is available on IBM’s website.