China Insights

More patients use mHealth device in China than US

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Health 21.04.2016 / 09:50


Though smaller proportion of Chinese adults use activity tracker than in US, Chinese patients are earlier adopters of mobile health tools than Americans.

Kantar Health’s latest report showed that only 5% of Chinese adults use wearable activity trackers, while in US, 7% of adults use fitness trackers, such as Fitbit and Garmin.

For Chinese, the most common uses for these devices are “to track their fitness goals” and “monitor their heart rate” (48%), while that for US adults is “to record how many steps they’ve taken” (81%).

However, this report also indicated that web-connected mobile health (mHealth) tools have higher penetration rate in China than in US. Of all Chinese patients with diabetes, 12% of them use web-connected glucose-monitoring systems, while that in the US was only 6%.

The gap among patients with heart disease is even wider. In China, 11% such patients use web-connected blood pressure monitors, while it was only 4% in the US.

Chinese patients are also more willing to share data. For Chinese diabetes patients, 48% are interested in sharing their glucose readings via mHealth devices with their doctors, relatives or simply synchronizing onto their mobile phones. Only 23% of US diabetes patients said they were interested.

In the US, these devices’ awareness is also low: 72% of diabetes patients said they’ve never heard of web-connected glucose monitoring systems, and 74% of patients with heart disease were not aware of web-connected blood pressure monitor.

mHealth technology can be separated into two categories: general health and wellness, where use is optional, and chronic disease management, where non-use can be a matter of life and death.

According to Kantar Health, in the US, the diabetes market will see significant increases in mHealth adoption in the next few years. Roche and LifeScan, who together dominate the global diabetes monitoring market, made great strides in the connected glucometer space in 2015.

While the “wearables” descriptor is often used as a catch-all term for mHealth technology in general, it is important to note that the key attribute consistent across all this technology is not wearability but connectivity.

Specifically, these devices have the ability to automatically transmit vital biometric and activity data to the Internet, where the data is stored in the cloud for easy access by the individual with the option of sharing data with family members, select groups of friends, doctors and healthcare provider organizations.

We have already seen this in the general health and wellness space with Nike, Fitbit and MyFitnessPal providing community extensions for their devices and mobile apps. But it is in the chronic disease space where the biggest impact will be realized.

Source: Kantar Health

Editor's notes

* Methodology and sources

Patient data is drawn from Kantar Health’s National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS), the largest global self-reported general population survey in the healthcare industry. The survey was conducted among 97,700 US adults 18 and older as well as more than 20,000 Chinese adults from June to October 2015.


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