The trend in patient-generated health data (PGHD) began decades ago with home blood pressure cuffs and specialty monitors to track heart activity, blood glucose levels and various health conditions. With the addition of fitness trackers and other wearable devices, PGHD is on the brink of driving improved outcomes and lowering the cost of health care delivery.

PGHD is health information gathered, created or recorded by patients, family members or caregivers to help a patient address a health concern.[1] The information could include biometric data, health and treatment history, records of symptoms and lifestyle choices. PGHD can be combined with test results and other clinical data to provide a comprehensive and precise picture of a patient’s health condition.

The popularity of fitness trackers and other wearable devices has eased their use for more complex health care monitoring. They enable patients to collect data easily, accurately and effectively. Data can be transmitted instantaneously to health care providers for faster, more precise diagnosis and treatment.

Global research firm Frost & Sullivan estimates the global market for health care wearable devices will reach nearly $19 billion by 2020.[2] Breakthroughs in wearable electronics, sensor technology, wireless platforms and alternate power sources are enabling new applications.

PGHD can lead to earlier intervention, fewer office visits and improved outcomes, significantly lowering health care costs for both patients and insurance companies.

PGHD may lead to predictive treatment protocols. Stanford University researchers have found PGHD from wearables combined with advanced data analytics can predict the onset of conditions such as inflammation, infection and insulin resistance.[3] Once patients and their physicians establish normal baseline health conditions, changes signaling the early stages of health problems could be quickly flagged.

The National Institutes of Health recently announced it will use 10,000 Fitbits in its All of Us Research Program, a study to collect baseline health information on 1 million Americans.[4] The devices will be tested for one year to determine how they could be more broadly deployed in the study, and they will collect health data on the users’ heart rate, physical activity level, sleep habits and other health outcomes.

[1] How Wearables Will Improve Healthcare,” by Charles Wright, blog, June 16, 2017. Available at:

[2] Clinical Grade Wearables Accelerate Growth Opportunities for Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) Solutions,” press release issued by Frost & Sullivan, May 17, 2016. Available at:

[3] How Wearables Will Improve Healthcare,” by Charles Wright, blog, June 16, 2017. Available at:

[4] “NIH’s All of Us program to collect data from Fitbit wearables of 10,000 participants,” by Dave Muoio, Healthcare IT News, Nov. 8, 2017. Available at:

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