Can a Watch and Improvements in Healthcare Technology Mean Lower Costs for Patients?

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To see what’s changing how we monitor health, check out your smartwatch.

Sure these devices track health metrics like daily steps and calorie intake. But what you may not realize is that these tools are part of a larger industry that experts think could help keep complicated medical conditions at bay, and possibly lower healthcare costs.

This is just one takeaway from this episode of The Long & Short of It. To learn more, we say click and take it all in. 

Why health sensors matter

Healthcare is an issue with many layers and challenges. Two examples that come to mind: the cost of healthcare and the proximity to needed healthcare. 

It’s in areas like these that remote health monitoring devices may be able to help, and some recent innovations hint at this potential.

Take, for example, the Apple Watch. Chances are that you or someone you know wears one. In 2018, the FDA cleared the watch to monitor two components of heart health for adults 22 and older. One was the watch’s ability to take electrocardiograms. Sometimes known as EKGs or ECGs, electrocardiograms can monitor a heart’s rhythm. The  other feature that the FDA cleared was the watch’s ability to identify heart irregularities .

Goldman Sachs Research says the significance here is the environment in which the screening is performed. EKGs traditionally require visiting a doctor’s office or some sort of medical facility, which comes with a cost for the patient and/or insurers and the risk that abnormalities aren’t observed in the short window of an office visit. A watch that monitors heart rhythms from home could help on both fronts.  

Health sensors already making strides

For chronic conditions like diabetes, sensors known as continuous glucose monitors (CGM) could help keep patients healthier longer. In fact, these sensors are already helping diabetics with their day-to-day tracking. CGMs – which can fit under clothing and provide real-time information on blood sugar levels – are already a $3 billion market and could grow 25% every year for the next three years, according to Goldman Sachs Research. 

Diabetics spend about 2.3 times more on healthcare than non-diabetics, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If tools like CGMs make it easier to monitor one’s health and, in turn, lead to better outcomes, there’s also potential for those outcomes to be accompanied by lower healthcare costs.  

There’s excitement and still a bit to iron out

Assuming the ability to curb costs and improve outcomes plays out  for a variety of chronic conditions, it makes sense that there’s a lot of excitement for mobile, remote monitoring tools. There’s already been buzz in the investor community, with about 400-sensor related venture capital deals in the last two years alone.  

At the same time, there are still a host of challenges to work through, including questions around accuracy and liability for misdiagnosis, along with how to keep data private and secure.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.