One in five American adults already owns a health-related wearable device and the adoption rate is expected to rise quickly, with significant implications for the healthcare sector, according to a new report from consulting firm PwC.

The study, Consumer Intelligence Series—The Wearable Future report, surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers, wearable technology influencers and business executives, and monitored social media chatter to explore the technology's impact on society and business.

As wearable devices gain traction over the next five to ten years, they can help consumers better manage their health and healthcare costs, the report says. But based on PwC research, wearables' potential in the U.S. healthcare system will only be realized if companies engage consumers, turn data into insights and focus on improving consumer health.

Among the key findings of the study are that consumers have not yet embraced wearable health technology in large numbers, but they're interested. More than 80% of consumers said an important benefit of wearable technology is its potential to make healthcare more convenient.

Also, consumers don’t want to pay much for their wearable devices; they would rather be paid to use them. Companies— especially insurers and healthcare providers—that offer incentives for using them may gain traction.

The report finds that 68 percent of consumers would wear employer-provided wearables, streaming anonymous data to an information pool, in exchange for break on their insurance premiums.
In addition, consumers are more willing to try wearable technology provided by their primary care doctor's office than they are from any other brand or category.

“For wearables to help shape the new health economy, next- generation devices will need to be interoperable, integrated, engaging, social and outcomes-driven," Vaughn Kauffman, principal, PwC Health Industries, said in a statement. "Wearable data can be used by insurers and employers to better manage health, wellness and healthcare costs, by pharmaceutical and life sciences companies to run more robust clinical trials, and by healthcare providers to capture data to support outcomes-based reimbursement. But it will be critical to address the consumer concerns that we've identified, such as cost, privacy, and ease of use."

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