Wearable medical devices have emerged as a game-changing technology in the healthcare industry, revolutionizing patient care and empowering healthcare providers with real-time data insights. Nevertheless, the global wearable medical devices industry still hinders unprecedented challenges in recent years.
A Rapid yet Steady Growth for Medical Devices
The wearable medical devices market is experiencing exponential growth, driven by increasing consumer demand and rapid technological advancements. According to Deloitte Global, global consumer health and wellness wearables have reached 320 million units in 2022 and are expected to exceed 440 million units by 2024 due to new product introduction and increasing user acceptance, especially among healthcare providers .
The revenue in wearable medical devices alone is projected to reach US$28.82 billion in 2024, devouring 48% of the global wearable devices market share. Furthermore, it is expected to increase with an annual growth rate of 25.7% (CAGR 2023-2030), resulting in a projected market volume of US$51.85 billion by 2027. Post-pandemic, this segment has received remarkable recognition for remote health tracking benefits and for constantly reminding patients to acknowledge their daily health conditions. Despite the gloomy economic downturn, user penetration is predicted to be 2.74% in 2023 and is expected to reach 2.89% by 2027 . Recent studies have shown that nearly 30% of US citizens have adopted wearable medical devices on a daily basis, with a remarkable 46.3% willing to share their patient-generated data with healthcare providers.
In the global comparison, the United States is projected to generate the highest revenue in the wearable medical device market, accounting for 36.9% of the worldwide market share. The Asia Pacific region, prominently China and Japan, is anticipated to experience substantial growth in this market during 2023-2030. Key factors contributing to Asia Pacific market expansion include favorable government initiatives promoting wearable medical devices, a growing elderly population, and increased healthcare spending. In 2021, Japan dominated the remote patient monitoring devices market in the entire Asia Pacific region with a remarkable CAGR of 5.9% from 2021 to 2026, and it is expected to maintain its supremacy due to a recent government investment of US$ 100 million for AMED’s medical devices and healthcare projects . On the other hand, China has recently promoted the “Made in China 2025” campaign, accelerating the domestic manufacturing of wearable medical devices. The Chinese government expects to dominate 95% of the domestic market by 2030 through lower registration fees, support in market entry approval, and downstream procurement for Made in China wearable medical devices only .
A Must for Quality of Care
Wearables medical devices have significant potential for remote monitoring of conditions, including COVID-19 symptoms, and continuous tracking of physiological signals related to chronic diseases. As of 2020, approximately 30% of American adults utilize wearable technology for healthcare. Nearly half of these users depend on this technology daily, and over 80% are willing to share their results with their healthcare providers . Since wearable medical devices connect and transmit data omnipresent via IoMT and cloud computing, patients and doctors can significantly enhance diagnosis, treatment, and hospital management outcomes.
Modern wearable medical devices can now cooperate and communicate via IoT to enhance diagnosis accuracy and better quality of care. The integration of pacemakers and ingestible pills, for instance, can facilitate interval surveillance that helps healthcare staff monitor the progression of a disease. An IoT-empowered pacemaker can determine whether the patient needs to be examined by a doctor. This new generation of pacemakers can integrate with an internal set of ECG, temperature, and Hall effect sensors to track the slightest changes within the heart and circulatory system. The sensors are placed on the patient's body, and the data taken from the patient is filtered and amplified by the microcontroller unit. By tracking such data on cloud computing, doctors, nurses, or even the patients themselves can easily track their detailed health progression. Ingestible pills, on the other hand, contain minuscule sensors that can communicate with external devices when ingested. These devices provide real-time data on electrical impulses, physiological parameters, and drug effectiveness. As such, the pacemaker and ingestible pill can work in tandem, monitoring patients struggling with Slow heart rhythm (bradycardia), Fainting (syncope), Heart failure, and many more.
To enhance quality in treatment, doctors can now track prescription compliance, thanks to an IoMT set of wearable medical devices, including swallow-able pills, sensors, and smartwatches that can track and keep physicians informed on how regularly patients take their medications. Wearable medical devices such as the ingestible pill Abilify MyCite, for instance, can send a message from the pill’s sensor to the consumers via smartwatches. The product has an ingestible sensor embedded within the pill that records time, internal reaction, and dosage when the medication was taken. The product is approved for treating schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, and for use as an add-on treatment for depression in adults. After 2 months of continuously using Abilify MyCite, nearly 68% of patients were delighted with its easy usage and would likely use it in the future (if available and recommended by their doctor) . Moreover, patients with chronic diseases, particularly Alzheimer's senior patients, can even be alerted and assisted by smartwatches promptly whenever they forget to take such smart pills.
Another prominent example is Pfizer and IBM have recently collaborated on developing the "Parkinson's house," in which sensors are integrated into various items within the house, including door knobs, furniture, or even cutleries. Patients will reside in the house with cameras recording their actions in 3D while IoT sensors are on their feet, wrists, and chest. These sensors are connected via IoMT to detect even the slightest movement changes in patients, then transmit to a cloud data lakehouse to analyze patients' progress and the effectiveness of treatment plans and medicine prescriptions. For instance, whenever a patient grabs a door knob, both sensors attached to the door knob and the patient's hand can evaluate his hand gesture and strength. Previous studies have demonstrated that individuals with Parkinson's experience alterations in their gait and movement. By comparing such alterations of current patients to previous ones, doctors can diagnose and categorize patients more accurately, significantly enhancing the quality of care.
Beyond Medical Boundaries
Medical devices such as smartwatches and “smart patches” promote an active lifestyle by tracking heart rate, calories burned, or sleep patterns, providing personalized fitness and eating plan recommendations. Nevertheless, wearable medical devices can go beyond the healthcare sector by enhancing workers' physical and perceptual abilities in the automotive, chemical, or retail industries. They contribute to safety measures, workforce planning, and overall well-being. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) , approximately 1.9 million people have work-related diseases, and 2.3 million people die from work accidents annually. Wearable medical devices could help laborers avoid such unwanted accidents and work fatigue by tracking blood pressure, heart rate, and brain electrical activity with remarkable accuracy of nearly 90% . These data are then reserved in a massive cloud data lakehouse, categorized and analyzed by AI to promptly inform labor workers of medical recommendations, fatigue alerts, or CPR assistance. By doing so, businesses can leverage employees' well-being, avoid unwanted lawsuits, and maximize labor costs.
Wearable medical devices have transformed the technological landscape, presenting abundant benefits and challenges. With an ever-growing market, these apparatuses are set to become increasingly prevalent in various domains beyond healthcare, fitness, and employees' workplace. By addressing these stated challenges, wearable medical devices will continue to empower individuals, improve well-being, and redefine how humans interact with technology.