Remember when wearables were struggling to catch on? Those days appear to be coming to an end. Research firm IDC recently reported that the global shipment volume for wearables reached 26.3 million units in the third quarter of 2017, up 7.3 percent year over year. IDC also noted that consumer usage is moving away from basic wearables (devices that do not run third-party applications) and toward smart wearables (devices capable of running third-party applications).

“The differing trajectories for both smart and basic wearables underscore the ongoing evolution for the wearables market,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Wearables team. “Basic wearables – with devices coming from Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Huawei – helped establish the wearables market. But as tastes and demands have changed towards multi-purpose devices – like smartwatches from Apple, Fossil, and Samsung – vendors find themselves at a crossroads to adjust accordingly to capture growth opportunity and mindshare.”

The uptake and shift toward smart wearables usage have implications for healthcare providers. As providers place more emphasis on patient wellness care, wearables such as the Apple Watch are crucial. Aetna is among the companies collaborating with wearable manufacturers such as Apple to encourage the use of wearables for fitness monitoring and wellness care.

Meanwhile, hospitals such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are using wearables to reduce the need for patients to get more expensive care onsite and to manage their health. Doing so requires smarter wearables to manage data. So not surprisingly, according to Accenture, the use of health apps for tracking health metrics more than doubled in two years, from 16 percent in 2014 to 33 percent in 2016.

Healthier patients mean fewer visits to the hospital, which means lower costs overall. For hospitals, wearables are becoming more important to retain patients through better monitoring and service. If you are not incorporating wearables into your patient retention strategy, you should be examining their potential value. For more insight into how to apply technology, consulting, and business intelligence to improve patient acquisition and retention, contact SIM Partners. We’re here to help.