We have often shared our view that Health Tech wearables won’t take off in a major way until they produce a clear return on investment. This won’t come about from fitness enthusiasts buying devices in ones and twos. It will be driven by the entities that will save money through the use of these devices. When insurance companies, healthcare services, and large employers see that a wearable can improve outcomes and deliver real cost savings, they will buy them by the container load.
Evidence continues to mount to support this point of view. A major study of large employers by Jiff and Wills Towers Watson looked at employee-sponsored wearables in the workplace. The survey covered 14 U.S. companies in a range of industries, covering more than 250,000 employees. The research showed that nearly one third of the companies surveyed have already started using wearable devices for tracking physical activity. When you add those planning to add them this year or next year, the share grows to more than half.
The results also indicate that employees are ready to get on board as well. Nearly two-thirds agree that managing their health is a top priority in their lives, and that their employers should take an active role in encouraging healthy lifestyles. And half of the employees reported that they had participated in some type of well-being activity or health-related management program in the past year.
Certainly, many employers remain skeptical, especially with reports of fitness bands being relegated to a kitchen drawer after 6 to 9 months. As more studies show positive outcomes for employees and a clear financial benefit for employers, we expect to see strong growth for wearables in the workplace to promote health and fitness. What may be a competitive advantage in the near term could rapidly become a basic necessity for employers to attract and retain employees.