The National Institute of Health surveyed 1007 adult patients at six Federally Qualified Health Centers. The study shows that most were interested in fitness trackers such as an Apple Watch, but found that there are barriers to more widespread adoption.
Barriers included cost and lack of information, revealing that broad digital health device adoption requires education, investment, and high-touch methods. Conversely, the study showed that there was high interest in having a device and learning about how fitness trackers can be used to track health, a willingness to share data for research, owning a smartphone and knowledge of how to download and use apps, and an interest in learning more.
From the National Institute of Health report: Wearable devices, including fitness trackers (referred to throughout the paper as “wearables” and “fitness trackers” interchangeably), provide nearly continuous information on physical activity, heart rate, and sleep. As use increases, data are increasingly integrated into clinical and research settings. There is emerging evidence that fitness trackers can identify changes in heart rate variability, potentially identifying COVID-19 onset prior to a clinical diagnosis2. However, there is a lack of diversity in studies using wearables to study health outcome. Despite an increase in broadband and smartphone ownership and use across the United States, access to digital health technologies in lower-income households lags behind middle and upper-income households. Improved access to digital infrastructure and devices in diverse communities is needed to avoid the risk of digital technologies becoming another social determinant of health