How Wearable Fitness Devices Actually Affect Patient Health

The consumer wearable device market is predicted to exceed over 4 billion dollars this year. It’s evident that putting hard numbers behind trends of daily life entices consumers. But what does this mean for patients and healthcare providers who are partnering to manage chronic diseases?

Hanna Alex

Associate Director at C Space

The consumer wearable device market is predicted to exceed over 4 billion dollarsthis year. With roughly one in five adults already owning a consumer wearable device, it’s evident that putting hard numbers behind trends of daily life, (whether they be clinical or not), entices consumers with the promise of a sense of identity and self-knowledge.

But what does this mean for patients and healthcare providers who are partnering to manage chronic diseases?

We know that current consumer products on the market are not medical grade devices – these are designated consumer lifestyle / fitness products that lack comprehensive calibration and specificity.  Device measurements such as “steps” can differ based on the location where the device is worn, stride length, amount of arm swing, etc. Given the inconsistencies with current consumer wearable devices, they lend themselves to be more appropriate for general health and wellness as opposed to someone looking for a true assessment of their health for a medical purpose, relative to a specific disease. (We’ve seen this line blurred most recently in the class action lawsuit against FitBit regarding the accuracy of their “PurePulse” heart rate tracking.)

What the patient can get from these consumer devices is an awareness of the delta, or the relative change in the metrics they’ve paid to track – the change in their steps, heart rate, sleep, etc. over time.  Comparisons beyond this personal self-quantification circuit, (i.e. to norms and standards through the device’s app or considering a look into big data), may make little sense without the additional context of that patient’s daily life.

Wearing a wellness tracker may encourage engagement from patients, but the act of wearing is not enough to promote a behavioral change.

A recent clinical trial at the University of Pittsburgh showed that “devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity, may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches.” The capacity of the device is overshadowed by the fact that humans need to mentally commit to a new routine and mentally learn a new feedback loop to make it a habit.

The sheer act of acquiring a wearable device could be enough, for some patients, to be a motivational push toward becoming more engaged in their wellness. However, motivational power can wear off unless a patient knows how to effectively make change and establish new routines. Numbers alone from a consumer wearable device can’t give insight into the:

  • Current barriers patients face when trying to achieve their wellness goals
  • Emotional needs and support required to effectively make a change in their lives
  • Household dynamic and cultural influences on their path to managing their disease

How can device manufacturers, (and pharmaceutical companies interested in partnering with them), help patients successfully take a step toward improving quality of life, when they are not clear of the obstacles and burdens patients face? It is critical to be humble (listen to patients) and to be curious (understand their challenges), before proposing a solution.

For instance, telling a patient that they didn’t sleep well the previous night isn’t enlightening. Showing the quality of sleep, tracked through a consumer wearable device, is merely validation of the experience, but it doesn’t provide the reasoning behind the poor sleep, how to fix it moving forward, or how to motivate the patient to practice better sleep hygiene. Who is there to connect the dots for patients?

In order to implement a behavioral change, patients need personalized recommendations beyond the device – education along the way, support, intervention, and ways to annotate to provide much needed context when partnering with their healthcare provider.

Get physicians on board; otherwise don’t expect to see consumer wearable devices incorporated into disease management.

In the current managed care setting, health care teams do not have the infrastructure to support discussion of consumer wearable device data with their patients. The data presented by the patient lacks context (and therefore meaning), and exists without guidelines, markers, or norms for comparison. Even if the inconsistency of data collected between patients (and various devices) were not an issue, the data would still need to be integrated into current healthcare management systems to possibly become applicable. As it stands, most healthcare providers have a 20 minute window to spend with their patients, and don’t have the additional time or compensation to interpret results from a consumer wearable.

So what would be of clinical value to healthcare providers? As described by a study in BMC Medicine, it’s necessary to figure out the “key patient-centered issues relating to usefulness in care, motivation, the safety and privacy of information, and clinical integration,” in order to make these devices work for patients suffering from chronic conditions and the physicians who treat them. Solve against the clinical impact that needs to be met for a healthcare setting, otherwise healthcare providers will not integrate these devices as part of disease management, resulting in a loss of legitimacy as part of a care regimen.

Consumer wearable devices seem to be here to stay for the time being, and while the technology and accuracy will continue to improve, it’s not there yet. Patients and physicians need to be actively engaged to develop and enhance programs surrounding current devices in order to produce positive wellness outcomes in those living with chronic conditions.

You may be interested in:

Scott Belsky of Adobe & Behance: “The Messy Middle”

Scott Belsky of Adobe & Behance: “The Messy Middle” Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: We often hear stories about the genesis of a brilliant idea. Or we celebrate we the end result of a big, creative endeavor. But what about all the stuff that happens...

Stop & Shop Debuts Ads Focusing on Empathy

Stop & Shop Debuts Ads Focusing on Empathy

Progressive Grocer

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC has teamed with customer agency C Space on an advertising campaign, “You Got It,” featuring documentary-style TV commercials in which real customers go about their busy daily lives – and how the grocer can help them get stuff done.

Stop & Shop ad campaign spotlights ‘real people’

Stop & Shop ad campaign spotlights ‘real people’

by Russell Redman 
Supermarket News

Stop & Shop is supporting the launch of a major store refresh program with an advertising campaign reflecting the chain’s customer-centric strategy. Called “You Got It,” the campaign takes a real-people approach in showing how Stop & Shop helps on-the-go customers navigate their daily routines so they could spend more time with their families. The documentary-style campaign, developed by Boston-based customer agency C Space, kicked off on television, radio, online video and out-of-home media on Friday in Connecticut and on Monday in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.

Getting into consumers’ mindset: five emotional cues that drive sales and loyalty

Getting into consumers’ mindset: five emotional cues that drive sales and loyalty

by Sasha Fedorenko 
Internet Retailing

Consumers that find retailers’ using the same set of emotional factors in their services found in strong human relationships including the relevance of experiences, ease of shopping, transparency in communications, understanding their needs and preferences and emotional rewards for their loyalty-are likely to spend and stay loyal, suggests a study by C Space.

5 Retailers With the Best Customer Experiences of 2018

5 Retailers With the Best Customer Experiences of 2018

by Jamie Grill-Goodman
RIS News

Trader Joe’s offers the best retail customer experiences of 2018, as revealed by a study from C Space. The study demonstrates that it’s the emotional aspects of customer experience that help companies stand out from the competition and create growth.

Randall Lane, Forbes: ‘Drama Critics of Capitalism’

Randall Lane, Forbes: ‘Drama Critics of Capitalism’ Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Randall Lane has interviewed the world’s power players. Jeff Bezos, Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump. Just to name a few. Now we’re interviewing him. As the chief content...

Nordstrom, Sephora among leaders in consumer connection

Nordstrom, Sephora among leaders in consumer connection

Luxury Daily

Department store chain Nordstrom is among the brands offering the best customer service experiences and emotional connectivity, according to a new report by global customer agency C Space.

Leading the Way for Customer Experience

Leading the Way for Customer Experience

Jet2.com

The [Customer, Experienced.] report by C Space shows that Jet2.com is the 5th best company for delivering a great customer experience. The study is based on almost 6,000 UK consumers who shared their opinions on more than 1,000 companies. The study asked customers to rate the companies against 21 emotional cues, including ‘They notice and appreciate my loyalty’, ‘They Understand My Needs’ and ‘They Make Customer Experience the Number One Job’.

Trader Joe’s, Costco, ALDI seen as experience leaders

Trader Joe’s, Costco, ALDI seen as experience leaders

SmartBrief

Trader Joe’s, Costco and ALDI do a great job connecting with customers emotionally and get high ratings on customer experience as a result, according to a study from the C Space agency. Consumers perceive these stores as superior when it comes to sharing their values, such as appreciating their loyalty, the report says.

The brands with the best customer experiences are…

The brands with the best customer experiences are…

Chain Store Age

Trader Joe’s, L.L.Bean, and Nordstrom were the retail brands the scored the highest in a report on the best customer experiences of 2018 by global customer agency C Space, a division of Interbrand Group of Companies. Amazon, Costco, REI, Bath & Body Works, Sephora and Aldi also made the top 25. (St.Jude Children’s Hospital was No. 1.)