According to Florence Healthcare’s wearablesandapps.com, a database surveying 85 connected devices, the majority of wearable health devices are focused on activity tracking. But with wearables now supporting almost 31 different measurements, companies making heart rate, blood pressure, glucose, and temperature devices are pushing vital metrics into the sphere of diagnostic care.
According to the database, currently 40% of the device landscape is focused on activity tracking. But recent interviews discussed on VentureBeat (http://venturebeat.com/2014/08/15/guess-what-doctors-dont-care-about-your-fitbit-data/) illustrate that activity trackers have little day to day healthcare utility especially for clinicians.
Device makers have heard this loud and clear, and the space is maturing as they move to measure other factors in three ways, through:
- Heart rate, a “gateway” vital measurement (Phase 0)
- Other vital measurements (Phase 1)
- Acute measurements (Phase 2)
According to the database, 31% of wearables now record heart rate, the most common vital sign measured. This establishes heart rate as the “gateway measurement,” pushing all other the vital signs into diagnostic care. Further, there are 5 different devices measuring blood pressure, 5 measuring temperature, 6 measuring respiration, and 6 measuring weight. iHealth, Raling, Withings, and Scanadu are examples of device companies driving the change toward diagnostic care.
The change toward heart rate and other vitals is taking place because vitals are essential in almost every setting of care. They are as close to a ‘North Star’ in health care as it gets, and are relatively non invasive and low cost. No doctor would enter a clinical scenario without them. As a consequence, we’re now entering an era of remote vitals measurement for a variety of applications. Let’s call this Phase 1.
We also anticipate a Phase 2, where industry focus and growth shifts to devices for acute measurement. The first few companies ushering in Phase 2 are focused on specific clinical scenarios. One example is Propeller Health. Propeller offers measurements and analysis of inhaler use for treatment of asthma and COPD. Further, Propeller offers UIs for both patients and providers to manage the data.
We at Florence expect many more companies to dive into the niche of wearable metrics, and Propeller is not alone driving Phase 2. At least four wearable companies are vying to win the glucose management niche and 15 different device companies are diving in to solve sleep.
Beyond direct clinical management, wearables becoming increasingly valuable measurement tools for clinical research. Then the challenge becomes collecting, tracking and filing that data. Florence eBinders enables wearable device and eSource data management for clinical trials.
These players highlight just the beginning: Rock Health, Startup Health, Blueprint Health and other early effort healthcare catalysts are cultivating additional mHealth companies each day. The three-phased device evolution is being built as we speak.
— Mike Kassin, MD