Trailblazing Tech or Dodgy Device? The Future of Consumer Wearables

December 3, 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has produced several opportunities for telehealth and digital health solutions to proliferate as resolutions for care continuity and personal health tracking. Consumer technologies such as “wearables”— smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other technologies that measure health metrics — are one such solution increasingly touted as the key to helping individuals take charge of their own health and track important health data. Through these devices, consumers can now measure health information such as heart rate, breathing rate, sleep hygiene, and blood-oxygen saturation. Consumer wearables have also been proposed as possible solutions to improve access and affordability to medical devices, as several low-cost offerings have entered an ever more competitive market.

This briefing explored the rise of consumer wearables as increasingly prevalent tools in health care delivery and as part of patient care plans. Panelists defined the differences between an FDA-approved medical device and consumer technologies that measure health metrics, explore the implications of consumer technologies used in medical contexts, and discuss implications for access, affordability, reliability, and equity.

This was the final event in Part II of the Alliance for Health Policy’s 2020 Signature Series focused on the voice of the patient. See previous events in this series here.


  • Brian Kelly, M.D., President, Payer and Provider Solutions, IQVIA
  • Van Krishnamoorthy, M.D., CEO, Tactile Navigation Tools
  • Jasmaine McClain, Ph.D., Senior Manager, Avalere Health
  • Kistein Monkhouse, MPH, Founder and CEO, Patient Orator
  • Adimika Arthur, MPH, Executive Director, HealthTech for Medicaid (moderator)

Event Resources

Key Resources

“Limiting Racial Disparities and Bias for Wearable Devices in Health Science Research.” Colvonen, P., DeYoung, P., Bosompra, N., et al. Sleep. September 7, 2020. Available at

“Wearables, the FDA and Patient Advice: What Physicians Should Know.” Robeznieks, A. American Medical Association. July 16, 2019. Available at

“Health Wearables: Ensuring Fairness, Preventing Discrimination, and Promoting Equity in an Emerging Internet-of-Things Environment.” Montgomery, K., Chester, J., Kopp, K. Journal of Information Policy. October 2, 2018. Available at

“Wearables and the Medical Revolution.” Dunn, J., Runge, R., Synder, M. Personalized Medicine. September 27, 2018. Available at

“Wearable Health Devices—Vital Sign Monitoring, Systems and Technologies.” Dias, D., Paulo Silva Cunha, J. Sensors (Basel). July 25, 2018. Available at

“Health Wearable Devices in the Big Data Era: Ensuring Privacy, Security, and Consumer Protection.” Montgomery, K., Chester, J., Kopp, K. Center for Digital Democracy. August 29, 2017. Available at

Additional Resources

“Harnessing Consumer Smartphone and Wearable Sensors for Clinical Cancer Research.” Low, C. npj Digital Medicine. October 27, 2020. Available at

“Three Myths to Dispel About COVID-Monitoring Gadgets.” Mendelsohn, D., Jain, S., Coravos, A. Harvard Business School. November 11, 2020. Available at

“Kennedy Introduces Bill to Ensure Quality Health Care for Veterans Through Fitness Monitors.” John Kennedy: U.S. Senator for Louisiana. September 30, 2020. Available at

“The Playbook: Digital Clinical Measures.” Digital Medicine Society. September 16, 2020. Available at

“Remote or Wearable Patient Monitoring Devices EUAs.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. June 25, 2020. Available at

“Guidance for Wearable Health Solutions.” Marrouche, N., Rhew, D., Akoum, N., et al. Consumer Technology Association and Heart Rhythm Society. January 2020. Available at

“Call for Telehealth Equity.” HealthTech for Medicaid. 2020. Available at

“Willingness to Adopt Wearable Devices With Behavioral and Economic Incentives by Health Insurance Wellness Programs: Results of a U.S. Cross-Sectional Survey With Multiple Consumer Health Vignettes.” Fernandez, D., Ding, A., Bayro-Kaiser, E., et al. BMC Public Health. December 16, 2019. Available at

“Can Wearable Technology Help Improve Your Health?” Collier, A. AARP. December 3, 2019. Available at

“Wellness Program Protection Fact Sheet: AB 648.” Advocacy Consumer Reports. November 2019. Available at

“Insurers Want Patients to Use Wearables. That Could Be a Problem.” Robeznieks, A. American Medical Association. August 26, 2019. Available at

“Fitbit Fanaticism: Fact or Fake News?” Howell, B. American Enterprise Institute. August 7, 2019. Available at

“What Tech Giants Could Be Doing to Help Close Racial Gaps in Health.” Brodwin, E. PBS News Hour. July 8, 2020. Available at

“Best Practices for Analyzing Large-Scale Health Data From Wearables and Smartphone Apps.” Hicks, J., Althoff, T., Sosic, R., et al. npj Digital Medicine. June 3, 2019. Available at

“How Can Leaders Make Recent Digital Health Gains Last?” Safavi, K., Kelis, B. Accenture. May 2020. Available at

“Fitbits and Other Wearables May Not Accurately Track Heart Rates in People of Color.” Hailu, R. STAT News. July 24, 2019. Available at

“Two Major Health Insurance Companies Now Offer Wellness Programs Featuring Free Apple Watches.” King, B. Philly Voice. January 29, 2019. Available at

“Increasing Patient Engagement Through the Use of Wearable Technology.” Bove, L. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2019. Available at

“Providing the Basics in Innovation for Consumers.” AHIP. January 10, 2017. Available at

“Drugs, Devices, and the FDA: Part 2: An Overview of Approval Processes: FDA Approval of Medical Devices.” Van Norman, G. Journals of the American College of Cardiology: Basic to Translational Science. June 27, 2016. Available at

“Do Data From Wearables Belong in the Medical Record?” Shaywitz, D. American Enterprise Institute. September 7, 2014. Available at



Adimika Arthur
HealthTech for Medicaid, Executive Director

Brian Kelly
IQVIA, President, Payer and Provider Solutions

Van Krishnamoorthy
Tactical Navigation Tools, CEO

Jasmaine McClain
Avalere Health, Senior Manager

Kistein Monkhouse
Patient Orator, Founder and CEO

Experts and Analysts

John-Ross Rizzo
New York University Tandon School of Engineering, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, Neurology, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering

Robert Saunders
Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Research Director, Payment and Delivery System Reform

Kaakpema “KP” Yelpaala International, CEO and Founder


George Chambers
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Executive Director for Technology Modernization Office of Application & Platform Solutions

Anand Shah
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs

John Shoemaker
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Information Technology Specialist

Carolyn Clancy
U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affair, Deputy Assistant Undersecretary for Health


Christine Bechtel
X4 Health, Co-Founder

Dena Mendelsohn
Elektra Labs, Director of Health Policy and Data Governance