Worldwide shipments of wearable fitness and wellness devices will reach nearly 42 million this year, and there is growing impetus to leverage the data from these devices to inform health management and health care provision, according to a new report from ABI Research.

An emerging market of cloud application vendors are focusing on wearable device and smartphone application data to bring insights into personal medical records, and in turn provide actionable health care data, ABI says. For health care providers, this information can help inform everything from treatment plans to health insurance actuarial rates.

“Millions of people are tracking their levels of activity daily, and healthcare providers are increasingly examining ways to leverage this data to improve levels of care and efficiency,” Jonathan Collins, ABI Research principal analyst, said in a statement.

The ongoing proliferation of wearable device data and support for its use in health care services is part of the wider adoption of big data collection and analysis within health care and social assistance, the firm says. Spending on big data analysis totaled $182 million worldwide last year, it says.

Currently the concept and development of bringing wearable device data into health care services is at its earliest stage, ABI says, and the bulk of the big data spending in health care is aimed at providing the framework and infrastructure to support initiatives mainly around actuarial and pharmaceutical studies. But over the next five years spending on bringing wearable device data into health care big data analysis will grow to a $52 million market, according to the report.

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