Four tips for integrating a connected device into a digital health program

5 min read

In the wake of COVID-19, virtual care has expanded very quickly. As pointed out by Forbes, telehealth is here to stay because it has proven to be usable with all types of patients, including seniors. The evolution of digital health tools has significantly increased the importance of connected health devices. There are many benefits of utilizing digital health tools, including reducing healthcare costs, improving quality of care, and improving quality of life for those with chronic conditions. This is why more and more programs that remotely monitor patients’ conditions (digital health programs) are considering integrating connected devices. But to deliver value, connected devices need to be carefully chosen to convince both healthcare program stakeholders and end users. In this article, we’ll share a few tips to carefully choose connected devices to add to your program.

Why are health programs integrating connected devices?

Before sharing some tips about connected devices, it is interesting to understand why they are particularly useful in digital health programs. Without connected devices, the performance of digital health programs strongly and exclusively rely on the patient. Some behaviors that have been noticed in patients, and which could impact care, include: making an error in reporting the last blood-pressure reading, missing a measurement, or not wanting to report a measurement. In addition, having to think about measurements and manually report them on a specific interface can be painful for patients. Either patients are deeply annoyed by the process and feel less engaged in the whole program, or they abandon the full treatment. By automatically synchronizing data and providing trends and a history of objective data, connected devices provide an answer to many of these issues.

As Dr. Emil Baccash explained in a recent New York Times article, “[It is] taught in medical school that taking a medical history gives you 90 percent of the information you need, with the 10 percent coming from the physical exam.”

If connected devices are well chosen, they can help to reduce friction in the user experience. With less friction, patients are more engaged and become the main actors in their own care, which is key to achieving better health outcomes. Some studies have already proven that connected devices are changing the way chronic care is managed. More recent evidence from the American Medical Association confirms that providers are looking for digital health tools, including connected devices, to treat chronic illness.

But the goal of better healthcare outcomes using connected devices is only achievable if the devices are efficient. Here a few tips to help ensure that connected devices will add the maximum value to your program.

The importance of a well-chosen device

The best device for your program is the device that your patients will love. As mentioned earlier, the connected device you’ll want to integrate into your program should be accurate and easy to use.


Devices should be accurate to provide precise data that will lead to powerful and efficient treatments. Usually, manufacturers indicate the accuracy of their devices and are able to compare them to the gold standard of a given measurement. When you consider a medical-grade device, it’s a good idea to look for agency approvals or markings. Depending on the geographic location, different types of markings exist to indicate that a connected device is also considered a medical device. Within the European Union, for example, you should look for a CE marking. In the United States, the FDA is responsible for clearing or approving medical devices commercialized in the country.

Ease of use

The devices should be easy to use for the patients so that taking a measurement is not an obstacle. It is important to keep in mind that in a remote medical program, patients do not choose the device that they are using, so the overall design is really important. In health programs, patients have no choice in the device they are given, so it is better if they find it attractive and pleasant to use. When you are looking for a new device, it is important to check whether the patient is willing to use it on a regular basis. For example, for devices that are commercialized on the mass market, customer ratings on online retail sites or on app stores are a way to evaluate users’ satisfaction and engagement.

In addition to user satisfaction, devices should be adapted to the different populations that may be using them. Evidence proves that Internet and smartphone penetration rates differ depending on the age and socio-economic backgrounds of populations: in 2018, more than 1 out of 4 Americans who were age 55 or older did not own a smartphone. At Withings, we have developed a solution that does not require a smartphone: a plug-and-play device named the data hub. The patient only needs to plug the data hub into a wall outlet, and the measurements with the connected device and the data will flow back to the Withings server.

Finally, the battery life of the devices is an important parameter. Each time a patient needs to change the batteries or to recharge the battery of one device, it is a risk to lose the patient. The longer the battery life, the lower the drop-out rate.

Instant feedback

Patients are also more engaged if they are able to see the results of their efforts. Being able to see decreased blood pressure or a lower weight after months of struggle is enough to keep your patients motivated and confident in the program. Instant, understandable, color-coded feedback makes the patient responsible for and more engaged in their care. A study published in the review Obesity shows that frequent weigh-ins with electronic graphic feedback are effective in preventing weight gain.


And finally, integration is key. How devices are used by patients and how data is folded into the existing structure should be thought through at the beginning of the process to ensure a seamless experience for patients. All data should be retrieved and patients should have to do nothing more than taking their measurements. Some providers partner with aggregating platforms, such as Validic, to ensure collected data are easily accessible. Other providers develop specific solutions, such as Software Development Kits, to make the installation and synchronization of devices as smooth as possible.

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