“Follow the money.” Wearable devices for Health Tech applications can be highly effective at lowering healthcare costs, but the fact is that individuals rarely benefit directly from those savings. If wearables are to take off on a large scale, it will be because they will be purchased by those who stand to gain the most from the reduced costs: insurance companies, healthcare provider systems, and employers. In the U.S., 88% individuals with health insurance (aside from those on Medicaid or Medicare) get their coverage through their employer. And in many cases, the employer is either self-insured or receives incentives for reducing healthcare claims by their employees.
This is why we expect that Health Tech wearables will be purchased by large companies and not individuals. Here is a stunning example; Fujitsu FIP Corporation announced plans to provide 10,000 insured clients with Fitbit wearable devices. The clients are covered by Mitsubishi Motors Health Insurance Society (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Motors). The Japanese government promotes the use of incentives by insurers to improve the health of their covered individuals. This has led to the use of “health point” systems that reward individuals for healthy activities, including exercise and medical checkups. The Fitbits will be part of an incentive system that combines cloud services, individual exercise data, and medical screening results to create a unified system for tracking individuals and providing rewards automatically. The system eliminates the need to enter data manually. The 10,000 participants in the program represent more than two-thirds of all eligible employees.
The fact is that it’s a lot easier to make a single sale of 10,000 units than it is to make 10,000 sales of a single unit. As employers, insurers, and healthcare systems take a more systematic approach to tracking and encouraging wellness programs for covered individuals, we expect to see company-provided wearable devices become common in the workplace.