AnalyticsIQ’s analysis on consumer health tech — from wearables to smart equipment.
Consumer Health Tech has put the power of monitoring physical performance into the hands of health-focused individuals. From only 2020 to 2021, consumers in the United States doubled their use of wearable devices, and the global wearable biosensors marketing grew by 16,500%. In fact, according to Morning Consult, 35% of adults now use some form of wearable health monitor.
The Cognitive Sciences Department at AnalyticsIQ took a closer look at this ever-expanding market. Even within health-focused and motivated segments, not all consumers or segments are the same.
What is Consumer Health Tech?
The term refers to digital health tools and devices consumers use to monitor and manage their health and wellness metrics. It encompasses various technologies available to self-monitor through smartphones, wearables, or other portable devices.
Consumer health technology provides information, resources, and support to make informed decisions about a user’s health, track their progress, and engage in self-care and wellness routines.
By increasing awareness, promoting self-management, and facilitating access to personalized health information and resources, this consumer technology has the potential to improve health outcomes and enhance an individual’s overall well-being. The advances in health tech also bolster areas such as preventative care and chronic disease management on the provider’s side.
This is partly due to artificial intelligence and machine learning analyzing large datasets for pattern detection in behaviors and symptoms. Essentially, patient monitoring can continue beyond the exam room and at a much greater scale.
“Sleep monitors are the most frequently used wearable health device.”
– AnalyticsIQ Consumer HealthTech Research Report 2023.
The Use of Wearables and Devices
Wearable and health devices serve similar purposes but are two different categories of consumer health technology, each with its own characteristics and purposes.
Wearables are taking over the market share of traditional health devices as technologies evolve in this area. Both are useful to consumers looking for insight into their health. Some key differentiators are:
Form & Portability
- People typically wear wearables on their bodies, usually as wristbands or smartwatches. They are lightweight, compact, and easily portable, allowing users to wear them throughout the day.
- Health devices encompass a broader range of products. These may include larger equipment, such as Covid-19 test kits and glucometers. Users do not commonly wear these devices, as they are used as standalone devices and typically do not utilize machine learning to adapt to user behavior.
- Wearables often provide continuous monitoring of various health metrics like heart rate, steps taken, sleep patterns, and sometimes even blood oxygen levels. The design of these devices enables them to track and collect data in real time, empowering users to gain insights into their health throughout the day.
- Health devices, on the other hand, are usually used for specific measurements or tests at particular times for specific areas of health — like the above-mentioned glucose testing.
- Wearables offer a wide range of features beyond health monitoring. They can provide notifications, access to apps, music control, GPS tracking, and other smartwatch-like functionalities. They often integrate with smartphones and offer a more holistic experience.
- Specific measurements are the main focus of health devices, and they may not have additional features beyond their intended purpose.
Data Synchronization & Connectivity
- Wearables are usually connected wirelessly to smartphones or other devices, allowing for seamless data synchronization and integration with health and fitness apps. This connectivity enables users to access and analyze their health data in a convenient and centralized manner.
- Health devices may or may not have wireless connectivity, and data transfer may require manual input of connection to a separate device for data retrieval.
- People commonly use wearables for general health and fitness tracking. These include physical activity, sleep quality, and overall wellness. Marketed to a broad consumer audience for personal use, they are more geared toward the individual’s patterns and behaviors.
- Health devices are more specialized by function and cater to specific health conditions and needs. They typically do not take into account the individualized needs of the user.
The choice between wearables and health devices depends on individual needs, preferences, and the user’s specific health goals. As AI and machine learning evolve, users are using these health technology categories in tandem and experiencing increased cross-functionality.
Consumer Use of Health Technology
This research report looks at various factors that may contribute to consumer health technology adoption and use. With the recent growth in health tech adoption, specifically during and post-Covid, and massive industry growth, a nationwide survey was completed in Spring 2022 to assess usage.
Participants provided basic demographic information and responded to a host of consumer health technology usage. Information gathered included:
- Demographics: Like gender, age/generation, and ethnicity.
- Brand Preference: Fitbit, Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, Garmin Vivoactive, or Lily.
- At-Home Testing Kit Type: Covid-19, Glucose, DNA or Genetic, Hormones for Fertility, Infection, Food Sensitivity, Gut or Microbiota.
- Wearable Monitors: Blood Pressure, Sleep, ECG, Biosensor, Smart Clothing.
- Smart Workout Technology: Bicycle, Treadmill, Weight System, Rowing Machine, Interactive Mirror, Home Gym System.
“Smartwatches dominated the consumer health technology landscape.”
– AnalyticsIQ Consumer Health Tech Research Report 2023.
Ease of Use is a Priority to Health Tech Consumers
Smartwatches are innately designed to be user-friendly and accessible, making their evolution into health monitoring devices a natural progression. Interfaces that are user-friendly and intuitive allow integration with companion mobile apps. This integration simplifies the access to health data — analyzing it in real-time — making it easy to view and track health metrics, set goals, and monitor progress over time.
For these reasons, in terms of popularity, participants chose smartwatches for monitoring health data, followed by wearable health monitors and smart workout devices. Additionally, smartwatch users reported daily usage. Wearable health monitors and smart workout devices were typically utilized weekly and at-home
“Data suggest a shifting marketplace alongside evolving consumer health technology needs.”
Counter to past research, in our analysis, men reported more frequent consumer health technology usage than women. Black and Latinx groups reported the highest usage of all ethnicities. In previous studies, researchers found that White individuals and women were the most common users.
Growth in the market over the last three years, coupled with the new types of technologies emerging, show that the marketplace is evolving along with consumer needs. By generation, Gen X showed the most adoption rates, followed by Boomers, those facing more age-related health issues or becoming more health conscious and/or affluent with age.
A View Into Brand Preference
Fitbit, the most commonly recognized wearable fitness tracker, was launched in 2007 and still holds the top spot among smartwatch brands. Apple Watch is not far behind consumer usage, with users reporting the greatest proportion of daily usage relative to brands surveyed.
A combination of innovative product development, strategic partnerships with apps like MyFitnessPal, and a focus on user-friendly features have given these brands longevity and growth with consumer health technology users.
Our analysis also included at-home testing kits. New Covid-19 diagnoses are still occurring over three years past the onset of the pandemic in the United States. Even with our research looking at several test types, 90% of respondents surveyed had taken a Covid-19 test at home, with glucose tests coming in second at only 11%.
All testing categories outside of glucose testing are considered an “as needed” test, not daily monitoring.
“90% of at-home test users reported testing for Covid-19.”
– AnalyticsIQ Consumer Health Tech Research Report 2023.
Wearables and Smart Workout Technology
We also asked respondents about their usage of wearable technologies for monitoring aspects of health and smart workout technologies. Both of these categories promote self-awareness, early detection of potential issues, and proactive management of behaviors that could impact health negatively.
Usage across wearable health device types showed blood pressure monitors as the most popular, followed by sleep and ECG monitors and biosensors, and smart clothing. The frequency of usage varied greatly across device types.
Still considered a niche industry, smart workout technology, like Peloton, gained popularity during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to stay active while still connecting with others. Smart stationary bikes and treadmills far outweighed every other category among this study’s participants, with weekly usage being the most common response.
Taking Data from Analysis to Action
These insights provide real-life data to better predict engagement and future behavior change for this quickly expanding market. If you would like to learn more about how AnalyticsIQ creates new data assets on evolving consumer behavior and preferences, check out our Consumer Data page.
Interested in learning more about predictive data that drive better outcomes? Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out more resources on our Health page. We love finding unique solutions to the industry’s biggest challenges. Let’s talk!