Consumers tracking their health data are more likely to stick with a program if their data is continuously updated online from their wearable device, says a new research study.

In fact, consumers participated about four times longer in a health tracking program if an activity tracker automatically logged her data, versus programs that require a consumer to manually enter her results, according to the study from the Scripps Translation Science Institute.

Based in La Jolla, Calif., the institute conducts clinical research into immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, virology, vaccine development and related healthcare issues.

The study analyzed data from 315,744 consumers who participated in the Walgreens Balance Reward for healthy choices program throughout 2014. Those consumers recorded 12.8 million activities in the program. Balance Rewards members receive loyalty points redeemable for discounts on purchases at Walgreens for tracking their health data; every 1,000 points provides a $1 discount.

Participants receive points through logging various activities, such as setting an initial health goal (250 points), filling a prescription (100 points) and 20 points for activities such as walking a mile, entering body weight and logging blood pressure.

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The Scripps study of the Walgreens data reveals that consumers who did link these devices and apps were more likely to stay in the customer loyalty program and continue to participate in healthy activitiesespecially if the data collected from their wearable was continuously updated online.

Participants who had automatic data tracking participated in the program on average 20 weeks compared with five weeks for consumers who had to manually enter data.

A Fitbit, which is a health tracking wearable, will automatically sync the data it collects to the Fitbit app. A consumer connects her Fitbit device to her Walgreens account, and then that data the wearable collects automatically flows into her Walgreens account.

77% of participants manually entered health data and 23% had their activities automatically recorded. But of the nearly 13 million recorded activities, 76.5% were automatically entered and only 23.5% were manually entered. The takeaway is that participants who had activity logged automatically were likely to continue to use a wearable device for longer periods of time, the study finds.

To further look at long-term use, the study analyzed data from 116,621 participants who logged in at least twice over a 20-week period. Of these consumers, about one-half stopped using the program after a month. But of the consumers that did stay engaged, 28% of these participants were very engaged, with up to 9 activities recorded each week, the study finds.

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Consumers logged exercise the most, as 85% of participants recorded an exercise activity, followed by weigh-ins (41%), sleep (33%), blood pressure (11%) and blood glucose (6%). 57% of consumers only logged one type of activity, compared with 22% at two activities and 21% three or more.

Of all the activities, consumers who logged their sleep participated in the program the longest, an average of 10 weeks; tracking exercise was the next longest at eight weeks.

Many participants were activeonly 24% of participants had at least a 30-day or more gap between consecutive logged entries, Scripps says.

The study also finds:

  • Fitbits were the most commonly connected device, as 60% of consumers who use the program more than once and used a connected device or app, used the step-counter Fitbit.
  • The most commonly connected apps among returning users with a connected device or app were workout tracker Runkeeper at 20%, weight loss program Lose It! At 11%, calorie-counter MyFitnessPal 7% and workout tracker MapMyFitness 6%.

The Balance Rewards program can be accessed online or via the Walgreens app. Consumers can link connected health devices, such as a blood glucose monitor; wearable devices, such as Fitbits; and apps, such as Apples Healthkit, to their Balance Rewards account to accumulate points towards discounts.

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The main takeway is that consumers that actively use a wearable device and have their health and wellness data continuously updated are taking more of lead in the managing the health affairsand remaining healthy, says Walgreens chief medical officer Dr. Harry Leider. Consumers are increasingly more engaged in their own healthcare and wellness, Leider says. Digital technology that enables easy data tracking of healthy behaviors, combined with incentives, and trusted professional support, provide additional motivation for our customers to more easily manage their health.

 

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