How Healthcare Marketers Can Leverage Wearable Technology

If you are a healthcare marketer, you are probably excited about the rise of wearable technology. From simpler, more task-specific wearables like the Fitbit and Fuel Band, to more generalized tech like the Apple Watch and Google Glass, technology that people can wear on their wrist, neck or head is becoming more and more popular. According to Forbes, “the worldwide wearables market grew 223.2% in the second quarter of 2015, as measured by total shipment volume across all vendors. (That figure: 18.1 million units, up from 5.6 million unit in Q2 2014.)”

What Is Wearable Technology?

This technology was developed almost specifically for the healthcare industry. The first and most popular wearables were the Jawbone and Fitbit—designed to track a person’s physical activity throughout the day. In the beginning, they were little more than glorified pedometers. Today, they’ll do everything from tracking activity, to monitoring heart rate, to quantifying a person’s sleep.

The most famous and diversified piece of wearable technology is the Apple Watch. Right now, it has one of the largest market shares, and has the most functions and features when compared to other wearable devices. In short, wearables are any piece of technology that the user wears on their body—it is as simple as that. They may wear it like glasses (Google Glass), or it might be strapped to their arm (Fitbit, Jawbone, Fuel Band, Apple Watch, etc.).

What Does Wearable Technology Mean for Healthcare Marketing?

Wearables are reshaping the world of healthcare marketing, by improving lead generation, engagement and even healthcare delivery. As soon as these types of technology hit the market, marketers were looking for ways to integrate them into their customer experience.

Here are some of the opportunities that are emerging in this segment of the market:

  1. Smart Digital Ads – Right now, running digital ads on tech like the Fitbit and Jawbone is not a possibility. These systems are far too simple. The Apple Watch and Google Glass, on the other hand, are essentially smaller versions of a smartphone, providing plenty of advertising opportunities. But unlike many of the ads you see across the web or on your smartphone, digital ads on wearables will need to be smarter and based on specific user actions or location.
     
    Consumers will not respond well to having their watch screen taken over by ads. But a consumer walking down a shopping aisle may like a timely push notification for a new probiotic whose website s/he accessed with a tablet the night before. Healthcare marketers that gain deeper insights and data from cross-device usage will be better positioned to make wearable devices usable for relevant digital marketing opportunities.
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  3. Better Engagement – How’s this for a scenario: a patient is wearing a piece of technology that tracks his heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. One day, his blood pressure skyrockets. Your platform senses this change and sends him an email or text notification with recommended next steps.
     
    This type of hyper-targeting was impossible in the past, but is about to become realized. The healthcare industry will be able to provide individuals with very personalized, very directed messages, based on data gathered from that person’s body. This will improve the health of that individual, and build a very strong and meaningful relationship between the provider and his/her patient.
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  5. Data Driven – Wearables offer healthcare marketers and providers the ability to track patients’ physiological responses and needs throughout the day. Technology that tracks exactly what patients require at a specific time of day allows marketers the ability to send personalized messages relating to that need.
     
    What if a hospital had the ability to be alerted the moment someone starts to go into cardiac arrest, simply because that person was wearing a piece of technology that tracked their heartbeat? Wearables will allow clinics and emergency rooms to keep track of their most at-risk patients, providing them with much better care and prevention. This type of data will not only improve your ability to be a smarter marketer, but more importantly, a better care provider

 

Wearable technology is opening amazing new opportunities for healthcare marketers and providers to reach patients in the moment when they are most receptive to hearing relevant messages. Healthcare marketers will need to be cognizant of the power data provides, and use it wisely to build much more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with consumers that ultimately leads them to better decisions related to their health and well being.

 

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