The figure 10,000 is now synonymous with the number of steps we should all be striving for each day to help maintain a healthy lifestyle and a whole industry of health data devices is growing on the back of this. If you wear a connected health device then you know exactly what your step tally is at each moment and, more importantly, how many more steps remain to reach the daily goal. Although the daily goal is not always reached, it seems this device is achieving what it is meant to; raising awareness of activity levels and encouraging the wearer to get up and move. For some individuals, these devices are making an impact on health – but there is still a long way to go.
One of the big questions which comes out of Ipsos’ latest Connected Health Survey 2018 is why there has been little change in uptake of connected health (this includes wearable devices, remote monitoring devices, and health apps) over the past two years (albeit with some ups and downs by country). Since 2016, current use of connected health devices hovers at approximately one in ten participants across 28 countries (12% in 2018 and 2016). We know the health crises faced around the globe, in particular diabetes, hypertension, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are not going away. So why the stagnation?
The survey results show that the one in ten who are using connected health devices tend to be younger and more educated. These devices supplement their current lifestyle and enhance their behaviour towards activity and health, as well as help support the management of chronic health conditions. Moving the other nine in ten towards using these devices is a bigger challenge.
How many of those not yet using connected health devices will realistically become users, and what will it take to sustain their use? At a personal level, many internal and external factors impact the adoption and sustained use of connected health devices—from cost, to psycho-social influences on each individual’s attitude towards exercise and/or chronic illness that may not be easy to overcome. However, other external factors may also influence future trends. At a national level, governments and national health bodies can either impede through restrictive policies, or help support uptake through raising awareness, improving access and incentivising individuals—including reimbursement for costs incurred through the use of connected health.