- IDC is predicting that wearable sales in 2018 will grow by just 6.2 percent to 122.6 million body gadgets compared to 2017 sales of 115 million units.
- Smartwatches will buck that trend, with IDC expecting smartwatch shipments to grow 39 percent on 2017 shipments of 33 million units to 46.2 million in 2018. Apple Watch accounts for just under half of all smartwatch shipments.
- The use of smatwatches should be encouraged by health insurer, but HCP’s are still not on board.
Apple made a big splash with its new smartwatch that can monitor users’ hearts for possible AFIB but cardiologists are still waiting to see the data on the accuracy of the smartwatch data. Still, as one doctor told me “anything that helps patients monitor their health is a welcome but I wouldn’t take the data from an Apple watch at face value”.
More and more people are buying into the smartwatch category which could lead to better patient outcomes, but if the industry leaves physicians behind there’s going to be trouble. Doctors like the idea of devices that help patients monitor their health, but what’s missing is data on what that does for patients via outcomes. Will there, for example, be a trial that will demonstrate that people who wear smartwatches get better control of AFIB or will it just results in a flood of people visiting their doctor based on what their smartwatches tell them?
The opportunity for pharma
There is a huge opportunity for pharma to leverage the smartwatch market to help patients better manage their own health. I’m working with a client, for example, who is testing a smartwatch app for MS patients that allows them to track their symptoms and respond with tips and recommendations to better manage their MS.
It’s not cheap to develop smartwatch apps. The cost could be $400K or higher, but it is a chance to help patients better manage their health. Will any forward thinking pharma companies tap into the smartwatch growth or will they, as usual, take a wait and see approach?