GlobalData expects future fitness trackers to monitor much more than weight and heart health; 160 clinical trials for medical wearables are in a multitude of different indications, including cancer, women’s health, respiratory diseases and nutrition

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September 16, 2022 (press release) –

Research by GlobalData’s Clinical Trials Database reveals that there are 160 ongoing clinical trials for medical wearables, which are largely for consumer-centered devices such as smart watches and fitness watches. The leading data and analytics company notes that these trials are in a multitude of different indications, ranging from cancer to women’s health, respiratory diseases and nutrition.

Tina Deng, MSc, Principal Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “We can expect the fitness trackers of the future to include a lot more medical tracking abilities, and not just around weight monitoring and heart health. Some of the more exciting trials we have seen include a pilot study from National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in the US, which is developing a wearable device to screen, detect, and monitor symptoms linked to respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Additionally, Mayo Clinic is evaluating the use of Healthdot in bariatric patients. The wearable health monitoring device from Philips collects multiple health data to allow healthcare professionals to monitor patients’ progress after discharge. We are seeing advancements in numerous other areas, including nervous system diseases, orthopedic diseases, urologic diseases, and hematologic diseases.”

Wearable technology is a blanket term for electronic devices that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory like a watch or a pair of glasses, or as part of the material used in clothing such as sportswear that measures biometrics. According to GlobalData analysis, the wearable tech market was worth nearly $46 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to over $100 billion by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17%.

Deng continues: “One of the reasons we are seeing such huge growth in wearable tech is because, as well as offering people ways to track their own health, these devices are being used much more often by healthcare businesses. The recent technological advances have proved that wearable devices offer real value for healthcare—especially when it comes to monitoring and preventing disease. Benefits include early diagnosis, information libraries, and better decision making, as well as reducing healthcare costs.”

Historically, heart health was a popular area for consumer wearables. For example, Google-owned device manufacturer Fitbit recently launched its new health-tracking smart watch to detect atrial fibrillation. The new wearable uses a photoplethysmography (PPG) optical heart-rate sensor to collect heart rhythm readings, detect irregularities, and notify the wearer automatically. The result of a clinical trial of 455,000 Fitbit users showed that about one third of those who received irregular heart rhythm notifications received a confirmed diagnosis with atrial fibrillation (AF). Further, for people diagnosed with AF, the Apple Watch WatchOS 9 added an FDA-cleared heartbeat tracking tool called AFib History to estimate how frequently a wearer shows signs of the irregular and often extremely rapid heartbeat.

Deng adds: “The data from smart watches and other wearables can be easily downloaded and shared with doctors to support diagnostics and treatment in real time. Therefore, we are beginning to see the move from what a largely recreational use of this technology to something that can make a real impact in disease monitoring. In terms of continued advancements in tracking heart health, GlobalData’s Clinical Trials Database reveals that there are 36 clinical trials investigating cardiology indications for wearables.”

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