Asia the Promised Land for Digital Health and Well-Being Tools?

By April 16, 2015
Asia, technological adoption in health sector

Most consumers surveyed seem convinced about the usefulness of health and fitness technologies, especially in Asia.

Is Asia becoming the new Quantified Self paradise? Reading the latest report from Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, entitled ‘Living Longer: Wellness and the Internet’, would certainly make us think so. Ericsson’s basic aim in conducting the underlying survey among mobile phone users in 49 countries was to assess the perceptions of users worldwide vis-a-vis ‘smart’ wristband-type wearables and related tools designed to measure various physical activities and bodily functions, such as sport, sleep quality and stress levels. The results indicate a highly promising situation. Consumers in general highly appreciate the range of tools on offer to measure physical activity, with those in Asia leading the pack.

Close to half of the mobile phone users in Asia’s emerging countries who responded to the survey state that they either would like to use a wearable device or already do so. This figure compares starkly with the percentages under 30% recorded in Europe and North America. The enthusiasm gap also holds true when Ericsson asks respondents their views on the Quantified Self: once again people in Asia are far more enthusiastic about this trend. Harris Poll researchers had already observed this gap in perception when they conducted a survey on wearables and the workplace last year, but the Ericsson survey underlines the real difference in attitudes between the continents.

Asie et les technologies de santé

                                  Percentage of consumers who measure their physical activity

So why is this? A reading of the report suggests that it comes down to people’s current assessment of their own health and well-being. As many as 90% of Asian respondents said they were satisfied with their well-being, while this figure is barely above 50% in Europe. The report makes the interesting point that ‘fitter people want better health’, the implication being that if people feel good they often like to measure their physical activity. Michael Björn, Head of Research at Ericsson Consumer Lab, explains in a press release that “those already satisfied with their wellness say they are the first to try new health approaches.” Greater well-being thus appears to go hand in hand with an enthusiasm for new health monitoring technologies.

Another interesting aspect pointed up by the report is that pollution levels have an impact on whether or not people want to quantify their health. Emerging Asia is very badly affected by both air and water pollution and consumers are turning in huge numbers to digital tracking solutions. Some 86% of the inhabitants of India’s capital Delhi showed interest in a hypothetical connected bracelet to monitor air quality. In comparison, only 48% of Londoners were interested in such a device. This should not be too surprising if one compares pollution levels in the two cities. Last year a report from the World Health Organisation showed that the ‘fine particulate’ pollution rate in the air in New Delhi was 7.5 times higher than that of London.

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