The global market for health and fitness trackers is expected to reach $5 billion by 2025, according to a new report from Research and The report evaluates the current state of the wearable technology ecosystem including devices and applications within the medical, wellness, and fitness markets, and it provides an outlook for these markets for the period 2020–2025, including application analysis and forecasts by physiological activity and the role of wearables in elder care and assisted living.

Highlights of the report include:

  1. Privacy and security concerns continue to hamper the market significantly.
  2. Wearables are rapidly moving into the preventative care, diagnostics, and urgent care segment.
  3. There is a need for efficient device tracking in terms of both care of custody for delivery as well as usage.
  4. The medical device market is increasingly crossing over into the general health, fitness, and well-being category.

There is a great demand in the healthcare industry for remote monitoring and diagnostics. Driving factors include healthcare cost inflation coupled with a rapidly aging global population within the developed countries. For example, 20% of US residents are projected to be age 65 or older by 2030.

Wearable medical devices come in many forms. Some may be integrated into apparel to become less intrusive, and sensors (to track motion, for example) may be placed at specific points on the body to communicate with an overall Body Area Network.

Other factors affecting development of this market include improvements in electronics miniaturization and innovation, which leads to reduced device costs. Further research and development into wearable healthcare devices is leading to enhanced functionality, form factor improvements, and frictionless integration with the Internet of Things (IoT) systems and solutions.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication enables wearable healthcare devices to communicate autonomously with monitoring systems for both real-time decision making and data gathering for future analysis. Secure M2M-enabled data transport and IoT system connectivity facilitates the integration of healthcare information with data analytics solutions.

One of the core reasons for wearables in healthcare is to transmit information for medical support from a licensed professional. However, there is also a market for “quantified self” in healthcare, which enables a do-it-yourself tool for consumers to self-monitor and self-report important wellness items such as blood pressure. The alternative is to allow medical data to transmit to a trusted entity.

Advanced healthcare data management solutions, supported by artificial intelligence, are capable of processing massive amounts of healthcare information, including unstructured data acquired from many different sources and contexts. One of the challenges for the healthcare industry is tying these systems into healthcare devices in a manner in which data is leveraged while simultaneously preserving device security and end-user privacy.