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10:07 AM
Alison Diana, InformationWeek
Alison Diana, InformationWeek
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Insurers Ready to Shell Out for Wearables

Consumers will sport almost 112 million wearables by 2018 -- most of them gadgets that track health-related metrics. Insurers have incentives to help the trend along.

Wearable computers increasingly are becoming fashionable attire for consumers, especially fitness enthusiasts. It's a trend healthcare professionals can tap to improve patient and population health -- and that insurers might prove willing to pay for.

Consumers and businesses will buy more than 111.9 million wearable computer devices by 2018, a recent IDC report estimates. That's a compound annual growth rate of 78.4% from this year's anticipated sale of about 19 million units, according to the study, "Worldwide Wearable Computing Device 2014-2018 Forecast and Analysis."

"We see the overall market [spending] a billion dollars a year, just in wearables," said Chris Steele, who heads PA Consulting Group's Information Technology Consulting business in the US, in an interview. "There's a lot more to come in the actual treating of medical conditions, whether they're chronic or acute. And a lot of that is going to be driven by the payers themselves."

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