Columbus, Ohio— Gartner recently predicted that by 2020, developed world life expectancy will increase by 0.5 years due to widespread adoption of wireless health monitoring technology.1
It’s in Our Hands
We’ve seen life expectancy increase before as a result of technology, but this is a little different. It’s not a $1.2 million Open MRI machine or a $2 million da Vinci Surgical Robotics system. It’s in our hands, quite literally. Apps, sensors, patches, wearables—all mechanisms of collecting data for monitoring that are consumer goods.
No Treadmill Required?
We have always had the ability to impact our own life expectancy. Eat right, exercise, drink in moderation (maybe you’ve heard the spiel?). But, we’re human and what we should do and what we actually do aren’t always one in the same. However, downloading an app, or wearing a patch or a certain article of clothing requires less commitment, less work, less sacrifice than running on a treadmill three hours a week or getting your family to eat Swiss chard over pizza, right? Where do I sign up?
While the statistic implies that the sheer existence of the technology will increase the life expectancy, there is undoubtedly some dependency on the behavior change that occurs as a result of the data. What can we learn from our roller coaster relationship with activity trackers like Fitbit? While they changed the lives of some, for others they lost purpose and we saw abandonment rates reach over 50%2. Knowing that it has the potential to lengthen their lives, will people latch on to health monitoring as readily as predicted? And will they actually change behavior?
The Next 5 Years
Health monitoring tools will get more sophisticated in the type of health data they provide–far beyond the vitals. And we’ll also see a change in they way information is delivered back to the user–an evolution from raw data to meaningful insights. As our world becomes even more digitally connected, these insights will be able to be delivered at the right time to impact change. And, monitoring tools will move from primarily self-tracking tools to shared tracking tools between doctor and patient, or patient and caregiver. As health monitoring becomes smarter, more integrated, and more actionable in our lives, we’ll be living longer for it.
See also HXP article, Pharma’s New Competition: Digital Health.