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Devices, apps promote preventive approach


For the three months ended in May, smartphone penetration reached 61% of the U.S. market, according to Nielsen. Penetration of smartphones remained lowest among Americans ages 55 years and older (42%), but this group is catching up fast, as penetration among this demographic has nearly doubled over the past year.

As tech-savvy baby boomers continue to explore ways to extend their quality of life, the healthcare system is moving from a "sick care" model to a outcomes-based, disease-state-prevention model that will eventually incent young and old to better track their health care ‚ — benefiting sales of tech-enabled self-care devices.

Installations of mobile apps used for sports and fitness activities are set to rise by 63% from 2012 to 2017, generating strong potential demand for wearable health devices like heart rate monitors, or HRMs. "An IHS consumer survey revealed that 62% of respondents interested in using sports and fitness apps also were prepared to purchase hardware that enhances the functionality of the software," said Shane Walker, senior manager for consumer and digital health research at IHS.

For those products helping consumers to self-monitor existing health conditions — total multi-outlet annual sales for blood-glucose meters are up 3.7%, according to IRI, and blood-pressure monitors are up 1.5% — even a slightly improving economy is expected to further lift this category. "A lot of [the growth] is due to the economy improving," noted Ranndy Kellogg, COO of Omron Healthcare. "People are starting to take better care of themselves. It's not that there are less doctor recommendations or less hypertensives," Kellogg said, rather self-diagnostics was seen as a "nice-to-have" purchase.


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