Today, nearly half of all Americans own a wearable device. It is widely accepted that there are a variety of benefits and motivators for consumer use of health technologies – but there is also a wide disparity in the types of wearables people are using. Though many people use popular devices such as Fitbits and Apple Watches, research shows that 35% of wearable users use a device not made by the top five leading manufacturers.

For that reason, healthcare and wellness organizations looking to leverage their members’ patient-generated health data (PGHD) – also known as device-generated data or personal health data – should look beyond the leaders of the industry to gain insight into individuals’ health, and seek to engage a wider variety of wearables companies. This is critical to understanding a diverse population. To achieve this, many organizations are turning to a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy for wellness, population health, and remote care programs in order to meet consumers where they are.

Meeting Consumer Demands

In order to garner participation in programs leveraging wearables and home health devices, it is important to allow consumers the choice in selecting the digital health tools that play a major role in their lives and routine; in fact, personally selecting devices is the expectation for many participants. With so many individuals already using a wearable or home health device of their choosing, it is unrealistic to expect a person to get a new, different device in order to participate in a wellness program or share their health information with their provider. As such, organizations today should not plan to offer a program with one glucometer or one smartwatch option; instead, they must allow for the use of the wide breadth of devices currently being used by their population.

As consumerism grows in healthcare, many people are expecting to play a more active role in their health. This includes the ability to choose not only their provider and programs, but also the tools they use to manage their health. With a BYOD approach to digital health programs, organizations can reach a larger portion of their populations and quickly engage those members who may already using wearables or home health devices, or are considering doing so.

Along with growing consumerism in healthcare comes the desire for more personalized medicine. For physicians managing a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program, a BYOD approach to RPM devices can be beneficial in that it allows the physician and patient to work together to select the device that will be most useful for that individual. It is obvious that not all patients are the same; as such, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to remote monitoring and digital health solutions.

Reaching the Full Population

In addition, allowing for a device-agnostic approach to digital health programs enables program leaders to reach a larger portion of their population, by allowing for flexibility of choice and price. Consumer choice allows organizations to understand the health of their total population, regardless of income, rather than a subsection that may be able to afford pricier devices. This way, programs can be more effective and deliver interventions to those who need it most. It also allows options based on preference and means. Though high-end devices can often be preferred by some, other individuals cannot afford such devices, meaning affordable wearable or digital health device options are needed.

For many older patients, many of whom are managing multiple chronic conditions, new devices are less suitable due to the learning curve associated with adopting a new, high-tech device. Instead, older individuals often prefer to stick with their legacy device, such as an off-the-shelf blood pressure meter or glucometer that is not bluetooth connected. Fortunately, the technology exists today to capture information from legacy, locked devices to deliver the data into digital health programs – enabling patients to use the device of their choosing and the device that’s best for them.

In this case, a BYOD approach to digital health can enable better adoption and longer-term engagement in programs. When digital health solutions can meet people where they are and leverage the tools they are already using in their daily lives, organizations are more likely to see success.

Preparing for Innovation

Though connecting to older, legacy devices is a known challenge, so too is preparing for the future. New wearables, apps, and home health devices enter the market daily. In order to maintain a program with the flexibility to adapt to trends in the industry, including growing and diminishing popularity of devices, organizations must not rely on a single device manufacturer to connect to their entire population. Rather, organizations can turn to existing platforms, like Validic™ Inform, which offers a single connection point to hundreds of wearables, apps, and home health devices. Validic’s constantly evolving device ecosystem grows with the industry – meaning that as new tools become available, a connection is available from the Validic API to easily tap into valuable data from said tool. By taking a BYOD approach via a connection to Validic Inform, organizations are future-proofing their programs to adapt with the industry and with their populations to collect and act upon the most meaningful health data.

Understanding Total Health

One of the most valuable offerings from PGHD today is the availability of a variety of biometric information – including clinical data like blood glucose or blood pressure, sleep, activity, and more. By leveraging this information together, organizations are able to see a better picture of a person’s total health, enabling a better understanding of how lifestyle and behaviors can impact a person’s health trajectory and outcomes. This understanding, in turn, helps organizations to deliver more proactive, meaningful coaching, interventions, and treatments to individuals to encourage healthier behaviors and prevent negative health events.

When organizations take a device-agnostic approach to digital health, they are enabling more flexibility to meet individuals where they are and encourage better engagement and healthier behaviors. As today’s tools continue to evolve and more information about a person’s daily behaviors are available, a BYOD solution can allow organizations to adapt to change to deliver the most beneficial interventions to lead to a higher quality of life and better total health for their populations.

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