Wearable Technology in Population Health Subgroups

Wearable technology is significant in healthcare. With technological advancement, many people are opting for such devices to monitor their health. The devices have their opportunities and challenges in three healthcare subgroups: high, moderate, and low utilizers. High utilizers comprise nearly 50% of the health costs, are frail, and socioeconomically disadvantaged (Kritzer, 2015). Comparatively, the moderate group consists of individuals that have limited and stable chronic ailments. The low utilizers are healthy and require minimum healthcare. In all these groups, wearable technology is used to achieve different purposes with accompanying challenges. Wearables have similarities in opportunities across groups like enhancing health monitoring, motivate patients, but have varying differences across the subgroups.

High Utilizers


High-utilizers can monitor their health closely. It is easier to track vulnerable patients far from healthcare centers. The wearables are useful in monitoring at-risk senior family members. The devices are useful as they alert the family to any problems that the patient may have (“Welbi,” 2018). After medical procedures like surgeries, the wearable is instrumental in monitoring the recovery progress. The devices are useful in conditions like dementia, emergencies, and health monitoring. For instance, the Great Calls’ Lively Wearable Senior Activity Tracker alerts family members of the patient’s activities. Should the senior fall or mix medications, the device will send an emergency notification to other family members. Correspondingly, the patient will be quickly tracked and given medical attention. High-utilizers, their relatives and physicians can monitor health far from hospitals.

The wearables save on healthcare costs. The devices enable the patient and physicians to monitor their health at a low price. The devices can perform functions like monitoring sleep, and home-based management of chronic conditions (Piwek, Elis, Andrews, &Joinson, 2016). Instead of spending money on transportation, doctor fees, and other medical bills, the patient, with the aid of wearables, will monitor their health and only visit the hospital when necessary. The remote cardiac monitoring system is one such device that monitors heart arrhythmias, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and weight. With such a device, a patient can detect any changes from normal bodily functions. The multipurpose use of the device identifies many likely ailments like heart problems, blood pressure, and glucose levels, which high utilizers suffer from. Comparatively, healthcare providers can get data from these devices through cloud computing services.Depending on the results, physicians can monitor patient health, minimizing financial burdens, and providing patient-centered healthcare.

The wearables motivate the patients to be healthy. The devices can improve the health of the patients. Using the devices and their apps motivate people to increase their fruits and vegetable intake, walk more, and monitor their weight (Carroll, Moorhead, Bond, &Fiscella, 2017). Good health is paramount to high utilizers as it reduces disease prevalence. The wearables encourage the individuals, who set targets on physical exercise and healthy eating. The wearable inspire the patients to lead healthy lifestyles.


The devices are too costly for the populous to afford. Super-utilizers are characterized by poverty, making these devices beyond their reach (Allen & Christie, 2016). Some tools can cost up to 500 dollars, which is an exorbitant price for this group. Henceforth, they will not buy these crucial devices. The costliness of the instruments makes them unaffordable to the populous.

Equally, the group may not know how to use the devices. The group, comprising of old, low-literacy, and low-income earners is highly unlikely to know how to operate the wearables (Allen & Christie, 2016). Insufficient technological and health literacy skills mean that engaging with personalized health technologies would be impossible. High-risk individuals do not have the skills needed to exploit technological developments.

Data privacy and security is a concern. The information stored on the devices is prone to hacking or access by other individuals. Since data is stored by the manufacturer and on cloud, other parties can access it. Equally, the patient feels like they are incapable of taking care of themselves, experience weakness, and their space is being intruded when they are monitored using the devices (Tana, Forrs, &Hellsten, 2017, p. 5). Moreover, the information is also shared among healthcare providers, increasing the risks of details falling into unauthorized hands. Data privacy and security is not a guarantee for this population group.

Moderate Utilizers


High utilizers can monitor their health easily. The wearables enable self-monitoring in different locations like at home and office (Anderson, Burford, &Emmerton, 2016). The patient can regularly check their health progress on the device and take any corrective measures. Diabetes patients, for example, can use the device called Dexcom’s G5 Mobile Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. The System makes use of a small sensor wire injected slightly below one’s skin and monitors the patient’s glucose levels. Speedy results are sent every 5 minutes to a wirelessly to a receiver or an app on the phone. Alerts indicate glucose levels above or below user-set parameters. The device, which is water-resistant, can remain in the body for ten days. The Dexcom system enables patients to monitor their health at their convenience and receive results in real time.

Additionally, the devices are comfortable and not intrusive. Through the wearables, a patient can obtain their health data without using sophisticated and uncomfortable devices (Piwek et al., 2016). For patients, not enduring pain when collecting information about health is an appealing solution, given the complicated health situation. For instance, diabetic patients have to regularly prick their fingers when testing their glucose levels, an activity which many find dreadful. However, with technologies like the tattoo sensor, the glucose molecules underneath the skin rise to the surface, enhancing glucose measurement. Wearables are more comfortable to use given their less-intrusive nature in healthcare.

Equally, patients can be more proactive in their healthcare. Access to personal analytics enable patients to manage their illness more effectively (Tana et al., 2017, p. 3). The wearables alert the patient of any adverse health changes and prompt them to take action. Fitness apps equally encourage patients to exercise more and watch what they eat. The devices also allow patients to send information to their physicians in real time.In diabetic patients, there is a needles system that enables patients to manage their health. Thedevice is called Abbott’s FreeStyleLibre 2 Continuous Glucometer with Level Alarms. The apparatus comprises an upper arm sensor that regularly measures glucose in fluids secreted by intestines using a tiny fixed needle. The sensor then sends its readings to a mobile device to which is paired. The mobile device keeps a record of the readings, set alarms, and manage all related data. The mobile device is vital, but the sensor will still work on its own and will vibrate/make sounds when it reads sugar levels outside the preset parameter. Patient proactive involvement is possible due to personal analytics.

The devices also offer evidence-based care. The devices easily avail detailed information that monitors the progress of the patient without interfering altering the behavior of the patient (Tana et al., 2017, p. 3). The details can be used by the healthcare providers in researching on healthcare issues. The internet of things (IoT) allows means to study human behavior and predict future behaviors. With the details, the health sectorproviders to device preventive medication and detect symptoms of diseases very early. The devices avail evidence-based healthcare, which is crucial for this group.


The devices may be unreliable. Despite widespread use, there is inadequate research on the reliability of these devices concerning results (Tana et al., 2017, p. 4). With error margins reaching 25%, any incorrect information could prove fatal to this population. The over-reliance on data given by the devices could harm patients who would act depending on the results. Since the patients are distant from healthcare facilities, there is no way of confirming these findings with qualified healthcare providers. Patients may make unreliable decisions prompted by unreliable devices.

Data security is an issue. The patient’s crucial data does not belong to him/her, but the device manufacturer (Piwek et al., 2016). As such, the health details can be sold off to a third party without the patient’s knowledge. Moreover, some of the manufacturers willingly share the location, gender, email address, and other personalized information to other parties. Even with claims of anonymizing details, there is no guarantee of the patient’s safety. The devices can also be hacked, compromising the security of data. High utilizers accumulate a lot of information on their health, which if hacked, could lead to stress over being exposed. Concerns like now owning data and being prone to hacking make the security of the devices questionable.

The devices are too expensive. The population could have high medical expenses that disable them from purchasing wearables (Allen & Christie, 2016). The Abbott’s FreeStyleLibre 2 Continuous Glucometer with Level Alarms, to illustrate, could cost up to 70 dollars in a one-off purchase. The smartwatches could set the patient back hundreds of dollars. These vast sums are not easily disposable to the population, which struggles even to make ends meet. The expensive devices make them unattainable by the population.

Operating the devices could be a challenge. The utilizers, unless tech-savvy, may find it difficult to manage the devices. To make optimum use of the wearable, it is imperative to understand how the device operates. Unfortunately, most of the devices are difficult to operate and even understand. The challenge is also faced by physicians who are hardly equipped to use the devices (Tana et al., 2017, p. 6). The rapidly changing technology leaves both parties with little time to learn how to operate the devices, hence, hardly benefit from them. Operating the wearables is a challenge to the patients and their physicians.

Low Utilizers


Low utilizers can quantify their health progress. Wearables in this category lead to healthy lifestyles and use the devices to monitor their health profile (Piwek et al., 2016). Healthy people would regularly turn to devices like Moov Now,FitbitIconic, and Garmin Vivo Smart, which enable individuals to track their health. Through these devices, a person can count the steps that have walked, their body temperature, the heart rate, and even blood pressure levels. If the target set is not reached, the user heightens their physical activity. For instance, increasing one’s track running to burn off more calories. The devices have apps on which an analysis of the patient’s activities is recorded. A user can check their average walking distance throughout the week and monitor their sleeping pattern. Low utilizers understand how their health is progressing using fitness devices.

Motivation to remain healthy through gamification. Gamification entails competition between several users, with virtual rewards (Piwek et al., 2016). The wearable manufacturers use social influence strategies, which promote the publication of visible feedback. For instance, weight loss competitions. With competition, people complied with the routine with the aid of digital assistants that when traditional programs were used. The person is more motivated to monitor their diet by increasing fruits and vegetables and being physically active. Gamification incorporates competition, which motivates the members to lead healthy lifestyles due to impending rewards.

Promotes self-discovery. Self-discovery is availed through personal analytics called quantified self (QS) movement (Piwek et al., 2016). Consumer wearables are self-hacking devices that allow a user to improve sleep and even manage stress. Thanks to the wearables, a person may learn that sleeping for longer hours makes him more productive the next day. By constantly checking the calories burned, an individual can create a target that must be reached within the day and work towards attaining that goal.

Possible to notice any symptoms. The devices gather data about the patient and with time, develop a pattern that is measurable (Tana et al., 2017, p. 5). Therefore, any deviation from the norm would be picked up by the device prompting the user to take health cautions. For instance, the normal blood pressure of the user could be 120/ 80mm Hg. If the user’s range remains within this range with minimum variation, a substantial decrease or increase could mean that something is wrong with the body. Forthwith, the individual will take necessary precautions like going for a physical checkup. Since low utilizers only visit the hospital when sick, the device helps in identifying any symptoms of ill-health.

The group comprises tech-savvy generations that can exploit the wearable market. Most people in this category have the skills to operate these gadgets (Allen & Christie, 2016). Forthwith, they can effectively monitor their health with little intervention from healthcare providers. Popular devices like EKG monitor created by AliveCorenables users to track their heart rate anywhere with the aid of its Kardia Mobile app, in 30 seconds. Low utilizers will find this device not only convenient to carry around but easy to operate. Tech-savvy individuals in this group can effectively use the gadgets for the benefit of their health.


The reliability of the devices is questionable. In the flooded market, some of these devices are meant for entertainment and novelty uses, rendering them ineffective for the group (Anderson et al., 2016). Again, the group is driven by convenience and opt for smartwatches and mobile apps, whose effectiveness is not guaranteed. The users can not trust the results posted by the devices.

Perceived, rather than actual benefits nay dominate motivates the use of the gadgets. Since the majority aims at improving its lifestyle and not actually suffering from an ailment, actual gains from the gadgets may not be realized. Instead, people are driven by the perceived benefits of using apps and devices (Anderson et al., 2016). For instance, a user may increase their exercise rate because their gadget shows them that it has improved their heartbeat. Equally, positive recordings of sleep patterns make the user feel good, promoting adequate sleep patterns. BioScarf, an alternative to air pollution masks, is a neckwear that is not only warm but also filters the wearer’s air to remove pathogens allergens, and even viral infections. It is questionable how a scarf would filter one’s air, but the users trust that the scarf would protect them from air-borne infections.In reality, the results could be false or not indicative of a person’s overall wellbeing, but they still make the user feel good about the item. The gadgets create perceived benefits through results that may be unreliable.

The gadgets would be discarded after serving their purpose. The user may not permanently keep these gadgets. Anderson et al. (2016), note that oral hygiene patients reduced the use of oral hygiene apps and gadgets once they attained their goal. Self-management is crucial in ensuring consistent use of a gadget, and without it, the item would not be used as much. Wearables risk being thrown away once they serve their purpose.


Wearables have similarities in opportunities across groups like enhancing health monitoring, motivate patients, but have varying differences across the subgroups. Among high utilizers, the wearables help physicians, and relatives monitor their ailing relatives. Equally, they motivate patients to maintain healthy lifestyles by encouraging them to eat healthily and exercise. However, these gadgets are too costly and complex to be efficiently used. Conversely, the moderate group benefits from data-based research and comfortable use. The downside of the wearables for this group includes data security, high costs, and lack of operational skills. The healthy group gain by being able to monitor their health, self-discovery, and gadget operations skills. Nonetheless, the devices may be unreliable and the gains perceived. The subgroups can benefit from wearables but must contend with existing challenges.



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