Medical grade wearable tech tends to track one thing at a time with great accuracy; Holter monitors record heart rhythms for 24 hours in detail. Consumer grade wearables track lots of things but less accurately; that’s why they generally don’t pursue FDA approval. An interesting essay in Information Week puts out the possibility that those two strands of medical devices might profitably merge into devices that can measure a lot of things well enough to be medically useful.
Analyst Michael A.M. Davies rolls out the usual complaints about consumer wearables, particularly the argument that consumers don’t stay engaged with devices for very long. But a reason for that engagement slippage is that wearers don’t see a clear benefit. If that benefit were a higher-quality meeting with your doctors in the short time that they can profitably spend with you, engagement with both the device and medical professionals would be improved.
Given the current state of the art, consumer-grade fitness trackers aren’t all that medically relevant on an individual basis. (Aggregate data across populations, where measurement error might self-correct, is different.) Devices that are provably accurate for multiple metrics would be actually useful, although they would be subject to regulatory scrutiny. Davies suggests that a category of regulator-approved trackers would be commercially successful and medically interesting.