(The ECONOMIST) – Health- and life-insurance companies seem to think wearable devices can actually make users healthier. They are increasingly underwriting the cost of a range of wearables, including devices from Fitbit, Garmin and Polar.
Aetna and UnitedHealthcare, two big American health insurers, recently created a plan that subsidised the cost of Apple’s pricey watch. Customers of other insurers willing to upload their movement data can obtain a discount on health or life insurance. The more active they are, the greater the financial reward.
Yang Zheng, the boss of Ping An Health Insurance in Shanghai, says that 1.5m customers are already uploading activity data every day. But are these efforts any more than a gimmick? Wearables have long been a bit of a joke, with some complaining that their “time to drawer”—the time it takes for people to lose interest and abandon them—can be measured in months.
AT&T is connecting the first medical wearable certified for its LTE-M low-powered network.
The carrier teamed up with OneLife Technologies Corp, a mobile healthcare software and data-collection company, to develop the OnePulse smartwatch, which is designed with telehealth and remote patient monitoring capabilities.
The OnePulse smartwatch will be available for purchase by healthcare providers in March.
AT&T is also exploring ways to transform the healthcare space beyond connected wearables, making the company a more attractive partner for providers looking for a wide range of digital health solutions.
In January, the carrier landed a partnership with Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center to become the first US hospital to leverage 5G.