The Future of Wearables & Patient-Operated Devices: Trends for 2021 & Beyond

Wearables such as remote patient monitoring sensors and stick-to-skin devices have revolutionized the health care industry. One can now easily manage their chronic disease or track their respiration, heart rate, or glucose levels, and doctors can as easily access their patient records in real-time.

Thanks to these wearable devices, the management of various medical conditions is better and more efficient. It has resulted in a tremendous improvement in how patients engage with their health and wellness.

Wearables have also enabled faster medical care delivery in distant care services.
But where is the market currently for patient-operated devices? What are the expected near-term trends in this industry?

Market Overview and Near-Term Trends    

The international market for wearable medical devices was worth USD 16.6 billion in 2020. Forecasts indicate that it will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.8% over the next seven years. The growth of virtual patient monitoring services and home healthcare will be the driving force behind the development.

Let's look at the projected near-term wearables trends by type, placement, region, and application.

  • Diagnostic vs. Therapeutic Wearables

Diagnostic devices swept the most considerable portion of the market by type, accounting for 62.5% in revenue share. The most popular in this segment were neuromonitoring owing to the increased prevalence of neurological disorders.

Therapeutic devices also are projected to have the fastest CAGR as more of these devices enter the market. Among these are asthma management products, wearable pain reliever devices, respiratory therapy devices, and rehabilitation devices. Insulin management devices will also remain popular, considering the prevalence of diabetes.

  • Placement

The strap/clip/bracelet segment accounted for 51.2% in revenue share. It is likely to remain dominant throughout the forecast period thanks to the advent of mobile apps which are compatible with wearables like smartwatches allowing the monitoring of different parameters, including pulse rate, mobility, and respiratory rate.

Transdermal patches are also gaining popularity as a highly effective mechanism for drug delivery. The increased growth in this sector can be attributed to rising demand from internal medicine applications.

  • Application

The home healthcare segment swiped 53.5% of revenue share in 2020. The growing need to control health care expenditure is among the factors behind the market growth. According to forecasts, remote patient monitoring will have the fastest CAGR between 2021 and 2028.

  • Region

North America dominated the market for wearable devices due to increased cases of diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer in the region. This trend will remain dominant through the forecast period as these chronic diseases require routine monitoring.

The most significant growth is, however, expected in the Asia-Pacific market. This is because of increased healthcare expenditure, geriatric population base, and government initiatives that favor the usage of wearable devices in the region.

Impact of New Technology and Data Management on Telehealth

The emergence and rapid adoption of new technologies are contributing to the growth of the wearable medical devices market. Mobile apps are accelerating engagements by facilitating communication with users with wireless monitors and communications. Machine learning software and tools that analyze data transmitted or collected from wearable medical devices drive the industry.

Challenges in Security  

Wearables have raised concerns about data privacy among users. They are increasingly becoming the launching pad for attacks targeting healthcare entities. Since direct attacks are harder, attackers use wearables, as they transmit data, as their alternative routes to infiltrate healthcare facilities.

Distance Care Post-COVID

There's no doubt about it; telehealth is cost-saving. It saves patients money and time in travel and could be a game-changer for patients with transportation and mobility obstacles going forward. Studies have also revealed that savings could extend to rural hospitals as well.

While telehealth has been around for years, there have been limitations on services provided, primarily due to federal and state regulations. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most of these restrictions were relaxed or waived to facilitate healthcare. More telehealth platforms have emerged as a response to the pandemic, and have greatly added value and promoted the sustainability of remote care in the future.

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