Chronic Care and the Future of Medtech

It’s hard these days not to be overwhelmed by the amount of ways we can track our lives. Am I eating the right amount of calories? Do I get enough sleep? Did I walk enough today? As consumers clamor for more high tech ways to manage life, it’s only natural that brands have kicked it into high gear when it comes to developing the next must-have item. But how many gadgets and apps do people actually need? Is there a saturation point? And which tools and devices will drive loyalty—and wellness —in the long term?

Technology aimed at enhancing health is certainly on the rise, but, as exciting as wearables and other medtech devices are, their performance often falls short of perfection. And that’s not just based on consumer sentiment—a recent study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University actually revealed that many of the most popular devices are between 15 and 40 percent inaccurate in their calculations. Findings such as these suggest that caution is warranted, but conscientious healthcare brands have an opportunity to develop tools that can change patients’ experiences with care (and with their brand)—especially as technology improves.

There is growing demand for assistance in the management of chronic conditions, for example. Studies show that 50 percent of middle-aged people in the U.S. live with one chronic disease. That’s half—as in 117 million people. With costs increasing and caregivers decreasing, healthcare brands can play an important role in the expert development of tools—devices, apps, online communities—that encourage, assist, or monitor the care of chronic conditions for both patients and caregivers.

Innovations in this direction are already surfacing. The FDA just approved Dexcom’s glucose monitoring system, which allows those with diabetes to quickly and safely share their device’s data with a caregiver’s mobile app. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California San Diego are working to perfect a tattoo sensor that measures glucose for diabetics, eliminating the need for painful, invasive, and all too frequent skin pricks. Indicating a long-term trend, Independence Blue Cross recently made a strategic investment in chronic care app developer CareCam Health Systems. The partnership will start by focusing on diabetes and asthma but certainly has the potential to expand. As these examples illustrate, the ways that technology could benefit the lives of people with chronic conditions is practically endless—and so are the growth possibilities for healthcare brands that can provide useful, supportive solutions.

The marriage of medtech with chronic care offers a vital and distinct way to play a large role in a consumer’s life, for an extended period of time. Thinking about consumers’ experiences in a 360-degree way, and considering their needs thoughtfully, allows healthcare brands to build trust, better serve their consumers, and develop a life-long relationship—one that ensures healthier people who feel better cared for.

Contributors

Senior Marketing Manager, InterbrandHealth