The Future is Wearable
The U.S. market for wearable health devices is poised to hit billions of dollars in just a few years, and HME sits at the center of this massive opportunity.
- By David Kopf
- Feb 01, 2020
I regularly return to an axiom
that always holds true in life: “What gets measured
gets managed.” It holds true for your retirement
savings. It holds true for the preventative maintenance
on your car. It holds true for your business.
And, yes, that adage holds true for your health.
And, like many things that we measure these
days, we often measure our health with some kind
of wearable device. It could be a watch with a
pedometer that keeps track of the number of steps
we take in a day. It could be a heart rate monitor
that tells our phone how many calories we are
likely burning while we’re working out. Or, it
could be an app that lets us use our phone’s camera
to scan a barcode on a bag salad to let us know
how healthy that lunch really is once you add the
dressing and croutons.
The value of this measurement lies in the fact
that once you’ve started amassing a good bit of
it, you can start to see trends. You can see that
maybe you need to cut back on those carbs. You
can judge whether or not your efforts to add more
fiber to your diet are going to pass muster with
your pulmonologist. You can get a reality check on
exactly how strenuous last month’s early morning
jogs really were. That trending can help you see if
you’re achieving milestones, determine if you need
to make changes.
And now, wearable health is coming to the world
of home medical equipment. Well, to tell the truth,
it’s actually been here for a little while now. We’ve
already seen some very viable applications of viable
health spring up in this industry. Some examples:
- Glucometers that connect with smartphones to
help diabetes patients better manage their disease
and send data back to their physicians for the
purposes of remote patient monitoring (RPM).
- Smartphone apps that let respiratory patients
monitor their portable oxygen concentrators’
battery life and other maintenance metrics.
- Small, Bluetooth-connected sonograms that
send smartphone alerts to tell urinary incontinence
patients when their bladder has reached a predefined
threshold and needs voiding.
In some cases, these devices and apps represent
life-changing innovations for users — and there
are more wearable health solutions on the way.
For instance, January’s recent CES expo offered up
a plethora of headline-grabbing, wearable health
products and apps. The show featured everything
from non-invasive, continuous blood glucose monitoring,
to at-home fertility testing, to devices that
monitor adult diapers for replacement.
New product developments like these should be
profoundly good news to HME providers because
it represents an opportunity for them to establish
themselves as experts in a truly massive marketplace
with a dizzying array of products.
How big a market? Well, the size varies a bit
depending on whose data you believe. In January
2019, Juniper Research reported that by 2023,
annual spending on wearables such as health
trackers and RPM devices will hit $20 billion.
Then, in April 2019, Transparency Market Research
released a study saying the global market for wearable
medical devices would pass $29 billion by
2026, with North America and Europe expected to
represent the lion’s share of that market.
Those numbers practically sit up demand attention
as a major post-acute market opportunity.
Many of these wearables already cater to specific
and immediate healthcare needs and offer solutions
that improve everyday life and care management
for people with long-term health issues. That is the
marketplace sweet spot where HME providers live
What’s required to take advantage of it? Monitor
these products as they come out and see how
they can integrate with other post-acute products
and services already on the market. As for
HME Business, you can rest assured that we will
definitely be reporting on these products as they
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.