Wearables shipments overall grew during 2016, with sales for basic devices such as fitness trackers soaring and smartwatches stalling, according to IDC. Looking more specifically at Health Tech, clinical-grade devices will drive grow at substantial rates in the near term.

According to a market forecast report by global research and consulting organization Frost & Sullivan (F&S), global healthcare wearables revenues will grow from $5.1 billion in 2015 to $18.9 billion in 2020. The overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for healthcare wearables is predicted to be 29.9 percent. Breaking the numbers down further, however, F&S found the CAGR for consumer health wearables is expected to be 27.8 percent (still a hefty rate), while medical and clinical-grade wearables will soar even higher at a CAGR of 32.9 percent.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s Venkat Rajan, “Breakthrough technological innovations in wearable electronics, sensors, alternate power sources and wireless platforms are enabling novel applications that would not have been feasible even five years ago. Moving beyond basic consumer-centric applications, newer wearable devices with more robust and reliable feature sets open a wide spectrum of clinical use cases.”

Effective management of chronic diseases has the potential to become a $30 billion market, F&S reports. Diabetes, a growing concern worldwide, is a perfect example of a chronic disease that can benefit from wearables for management. The market growth is dependent on clinical-grade wearables justifying their value to payers, patients, and clinicians. Confidence in the data collected is key, along with interoperability with other devices and data systems as well as affordability.

From the experience of family members with diabetes, valid and reliable automated blood glucose readings and correct insulin dosage would be a major benefit for both disease management and quality of life. However, patients and their healthcare teams still hesitate to rely solely on digital devices. As artificial pancreas systems mature and prove they can perform at clinically acceptable rates, that market alone will be worth billions.