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The Wearable Future

It’s 11:53 p.m. and I’m jogging in place beside my bed, eyes glued to the Fitbit around my wrist. The number on the screen slowly ticks up until it reaches 10,000 with a satisfying buzz and an inspirational message: “10,000 steps! You did it!”

The rise of wearable technology has been meteoric over the past five years. The most prominent models include fitness trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone and smart watches like Apple Watch, all of which can track fitness-related metrics like step count, heart rate and sleep quality. According to the International Data Corporation, the world wearables market has grown by 67 percent since 2015. The IDC predicts the use of these devices will rise over the next few years, with watches and wristbands driving volume while new tech like clothing and eyewear grows in popularity.

The wearables market has a lot of potential, particularly for the healthcare industry. Let’s look at three future opportunities.

Efficiency

Most doctors rely on self-reporting by patients to determine healthcare needs, and their ability to take care of a patient is based on that communication. Wearables that transmit information from patient to doctor in real time will aid both in monitoring health and in diagnosing symptoms.

Future wearables could have the capability to notify a doctor when they detect an issue, enabling a head start on diagnosis while improving efficiency. Reported information like blood pressure, body temperature, or amount of exercise would provide doctors with accurate, unbiased information on a patient’s health. For patients with chronic diseases, wearable tech will supply them with innovative strategies to treat and manage their condition.

Content

Through health trackers, healthcare marketers have the opportunity to deliver tailored content to patients. Providers can monitor symptoms and send patients useful content personalized to their exact issue by developing marketing automation programs. For example, if a patient’s blood sugar is too low, that could trigger a notification and some recommended next steps. If a patient who’s trying to get in shape just went to the gym five days in a row, it could send them an article with 10 stretches for sore muscles. Marketers will have the opportunity to cultivate a lasting patient-provider relationship by analyzing the patient data wearables provide.

For patients consuming this information on their wearable device, marketers need to reconsider content strategy. Visual elements rather than text-heavy pieces will dominate smaller devices – think video or audio. Content must be clear and concise, and easily downloaded even with a spotty internet connection. Wearable devices do not now lend themselves to content consumption, but neither did mobile phones a few years ago. A forward-looking content strategy should factor in wearable tech.

Insights

Hyper targeting consumers has never been a precise art. However, wearable tech is poised to take it to a new level.  With constant access to the user’s location and biological information, the data gathered from wearables will provide physicians with a deeper understanding of their patients.

Accessing both location and emotion to enhance relationships and produce convenience: this is the real promise of wearable technology for healthcare marketers.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I only have 3,000 steps today. Time to move.