Moving past the hype on mobile, wearables for consumer health

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/crystal-ball.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Directionally positive, but still quite developmental in reality. The gold rush not quite begun.

In the past week or two, this Editor has been working her way through a stack of surveys and journal-published research, all heavily promoting the greater interest in and usage of consumer mobile health. Here we have Monique Levy of the well-regarded Manhattan Research finding in their surveys (via Mobihealthnews):

  • 86 percent of the general population is online for health
    • Half of those use mobile
    • Two-thirds use social media to seek health information
    • One-third communicate digitally with doctors
    • Three-quarters interact with online pharma resources
    • About 20 percent of patients say that mobile is essential for managing their care–increasing to 32 percent of people with diabetes, 39 percent for people with MS

Before the D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde) crowd vaults over the moon, however, Ms Levy states that “What people mostly do on their smartphone is look for information.” She recommends optimizing websites (in this context, primarily pharma) for mobile search, and apps should address “real customer pain points or niche needs”, not just a cool tracking app.

Yes, but the D3H point out the fifth annual ‘Pulse of Online Health’ by Makovsky Health (healthcare PR agency) and Kelton (research), a survey of over 1,000 adults, headlining that almost two-thirds (66 percent)of Americans would use a mobile app to manage health-related issues, (more…)

Drawn and quartered: digital health consumer study

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Parks-Associates-Health-Groups-Segmentation.jpg” thumb_width=”300″ /]

Parks Associates’ latest study of potential digital health consumers will come as a confirmation for some of us who’ve been up and down a few hype curves, and be a sobering bucket-of-cold-water for those wedded to the Revolutionary-Transformative-eHealthy-D3H Bandwagon view that digital health will change EVERYONE’s life. Market segmentation is a useful marketing tool for narrowing down your real market to spend those scarce (investor-supplied) funds: those most likely to purchase, and a broad picture of what they look like. As you’ll see in the Parks Associates/TTA graphic above, the market for digital health almost neatly breaks into quarters: the top half has the greatest potential. The report looks at lifestyle/behavior, health, residential and income factors among 2,500 broadband-equipped heads-of-household.

Where’s the surprise party? It’s no surprise that the highest potential market denizens are already health-conscious, good ‘do-bees’ in their diet and exercise and higher in income. The second quarter represents older adults facing health challenges, but already on track with their health ‘mindfulness’–perhaps they are the older, health-challenged versions of the first group. It’s the next two groups and their respective positionings which are the surprise. The Parks study ranks the ‘bad do-bees’ –the already sick with bad health habits and lower incomes–in potential above the young, tech-enthusiastic and healthy–but not health-conscious in their behaviors and also lower in income. Despite all their connectivity, only 28 percent of this group looked up health information online in the past year, contrasting with 38 percent of all responders.

Marketing implications?  I’d be spending my company’s money and time on (more…)

Is consumer digital device engagement sticky? Or just the hype?

A wonderfully cranky essay by Laurie Orlov on her new blog Boomer Health Tech Watch might make you think The Gimlet Eye was her guest writer (see below). Ms Orlov observes the ratched-up noise level around wearables, fitness bands, smartwatches (in which your Editor will be drenched quadrophonically next Wednesday at CEWeek NYC, glutton for punishment as she is). Yes, we’re swooning around Apple Health [TTA 3 June] and having a minor swivet around Samsung’s Simband and SAMI [TTA 2 June]. The bucket of cold water in Ms Orlov’s grip is the high dropout rate among fitness band users (33-50 percent, cited from Endeavour Partners and NPD Group); this Editor will also add the devices’ relative inaccuracy, fragility and glitches [TTA 10 May]. But ‘the investor community (via the media) clearly IS being transformed, at least temporarily’ as well as outside the health industry, by a belief that these devices will push the world into Quantified Selfing for the Masses. Will wearables herald our arrival at the New Jerusalem of Health? Certainly it’s been trumpeted and tromboned by the D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde) badly needing a fresh fave rave. But can digital health survive another Hype Curve dive? Can weThe Consumerization of Health Care — is it working?

Further in this jugular vein, Business Investor, in a superficial swipe, dubs smartwatches uncool just because they trail fitness bands by six points. They did a better job in March delving into the real challenges that wearables face: smartwatches look and feel like a brick on your wrist (Ed. D’s term), Google Glass is socially unacceptable in many quarters (banned in Silicon Valley!) and wearables are still in Early Adopter-Ville.

Update: Ms Orlov just sent to this Editor a brief comment with a link to a thoughtful NY Times article not only on The Trouble with Apple’s Health App, but also how the barriers are more subtle–and more common-sensical–than the hype around how consumers are eager to register every burp on a PHR (they’re not), they don’t want to be nagged by technology (easier than your mom to be rid of) and the group that needs it most (the old, poor) has the least, for now, access to it. But largely ignored by the D3H.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”75″ /]On assignment off Cape May, New Jersey inventorying readiness of coastal defense fortifications. Just between us. Shhhh!

Picture murky: 23andMe and the FDA

Genetic testing company 23andMe seems to be in no rush to resolve its differences with the FDA, and the digitalhealtherati a/k/a D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde) are wondering why. In late November, 23andMe executives undoubtedly had a depressing Thanksgiving when the FDA ordered them to stop providing health reports (interpretation of genetic results) and marketing kits. Four months later, 23andMe continues to sell its kits for $99, providing only raw genetic data and ancestry reports–and according to its 31 March blog posting, will do so for the foreseeable future as they complete the regulatory review process. The blog quoted CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki, “My main priority is resolution with the FDA,” but actions speak louder than words–and the FDA isn’t talking. The FDA standard is still validation–the company has to analytically and clinically validate 23andMe for its intended uses, which is why the FDA took action against them in the first place.

  • Is the lack of urgency more about continuing to gather raw genetic and health data unimpeded? Ms Wojcicki had widely stated her real aim was to build a 25-million-strong database (Fast Company).
  • Is the real revenue stream of the company not the kits but in monetizing a massive database, selling it to researchers and others (Matthew Herper in Forbes)–the Google model which Ms Wojcicki is quite familiar with? Consider that there’s $126 million into the company, that is a lot of $99 kits.

Most companies in this situation would be imploding. This one is not. Interestingly. FierceMedicalDevices, The Verge

Previously in TTA: all you ever wanted to know about the 23andMe kerfuffle in FDA tells 23andMe genomic test to stop marketing (including this Editor’s analysis of their pre-FDA website with copy breathlessly expressing potentially life-saving or critical lifestyle changing claims, countered by legal ‘educational use’ boilerplate) and The inevitable: class action lawsuit against 23andMe (a check of the Ankcorn blog has no updates)

Wearables solving real ‘jobs to be done’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/orcam-device-web11.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]This Editor strongly believes that the heart of a great product is that it addresses, in Clayton Christensen’s terms, a ‘job to be done’–or as pre-social media marketing writing put it, ‘not a ‘nice to have’–a must-have’. Venture Beat, usually a facilitator of the D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde), has an unusually sober and personal article from writer Christina Farr highlighting five wearable devices and how they could be ‘must-haves’, improving quality of life for significant groups of everyday people.

  1.  The OrCam computer-assisted vision device (above) for those with low vision, which interprets nearby visual inputs, including letters, faces, objects, products, places, bus numbers, and traffic lights–and describes them to the wearer through a bone-conduction device heard by the user only. From Israel and available only in the US at present, the initial pricing is around $2,500.
  2. Physician, surgical and law enforcement decision support may be the best use of Google Glass–not exactly the ‘hipster on the L train’ picture promoted by Google.
  3. Emotiv’s mind-controlled wheelchair, which is controlled by a headset (EPOC) capable of picking up electrical signals.
  4. For autistic children and adults, Neumitra and Affectiva are both bands that measure and alert for physiological stress that may lead to inappropriate wandering or acting-out.
  5. Red-green color blindness affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. It can be dangerous–think of traffic lights and wiring–and EnChroma’s correcting set of glasses is a simple, useful solution. Reportedly there is a 30 percent improvement in color identification and a 70 percent improvement in color discrimination. The pricing is fairly standard at $375-460.

Quick Tuesday takes on health tech

Long-term sensors, smart thermometers and the Scanadu Nirvana

The first study of long term use of carbon nanotubes as implanted sensors has been published in Nature Nanotechnology. The nanotubes were implanted for a year in animals to track nitrous oxide (NO), an indicator of inflammation which is important in and of itself, but the level of NO is also not understood long term in cancer. To detect NO, the tubes are wrapped in DNA with a particular sequence and wrapped in an alginate gel to stay in place for a recorded 400 days. The MIT team working on this is also working on nanotubes for real-time detection of glucose levels, towards an accurate insulin pump that would end the diabetic’s perpetual Battle of Stalingrad. MIT News and FierceHealthIT.

The Kinsa smart thermometer for iPhone and Android received a glowing article in Fast Company Design. (more…)

The ‘ginormous’ hype around forecasts

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/blue-blazes.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Our readers may have noticed that your Editors of late have skipped the relentless tracking of eHealth/mHealth/digital health/wearables forecasts, save Editor Charles nominating research2guidance’s latest for ‘What in the Blue Blazes’. Yet r2g’s $26 billion by 2017 forecast for the category was but a lagniappe* compared to MarketsandMarkets‘ puffy $59.7 billion by 2018. Laurie Orlov has artfully skewered the relentless forecasting (she is a recovering veteran of Forrester Research) with the sobering comparison of the current D3H**-fed bubble to the fluffy eCommerce forecasts circa 2000. And we all know how that ended. Do not miss her tale of “mythical John and the XLife Preserver” and how it attracts a VC named Head, Clouds, Smoke and Vapor (HCS & V), located down the hill from a Napa winery. (Presumably the product flows downhill?) The Wireless Health market is ginormous — so forecasters say (Aging In Place Technology Watch)

Another factoid from the M&M report: Mobile apps alone by 2018 will be valued at $20.7 billion from $6.3 billion now. Yet 90 percent are currently free and the rest are $1-2, except for medical apps targeted to professionals. The Gimlet Eye is still trying to compute this one in Monopoly® money, and is requesting a large bottle of Panadol (Tylenol). Drug Store News

* Lagniappe: something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure (Merriam-Webster)–American French by way of New Orleans   **D3H=Digital Health Hypester Horde

Owlet baby monitor sock exceeds funding goal

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Owlet-closeup-small.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]In late August, we followed up on the major league cute ‘n’ useful Owlet monitoring sock and its effort to self-fund development. It’s now exceeded its $100,000 crowdfunding goal at over $121,000 with 721 pledged supporters. Along with this of course is the obligation to deliver products in November. What this points to is the appeal of a product addressing the powerful concern of baby wellness and sleep–a ‘job to be done’–and that it can be done outside of the usual East/West Coast accelerator, cocktail party and D3H hype loop in decidedly unfashionable, abstemious Utah. Congratulations in order! Website/pledge tracker.

There’s a bit of a boomlet in baby monitoring products, with Mobihealthnews lining up the Rest Devices’ Mimo onesie plus ‘turtle’ monitor, Croatia’s iDerma Teddy the Guardian teddy bear [TTA 22 July], Pixie Scientific’s Smart Diapers which not only detects wetting but also UTIs or kidney problems and the simpler Huggies Tweet Pee that alerts to changing (and reminds to buy diapers) which is in test in Brazil but reportedly will launch this month. Baby showers and their concomitant oohing and aahhing will never be the same. 6 baby activity trackers announced this summer

The Internet.org initiative and the real meaning for health tech

Internet.org — Every one of us. Everywhere. Connected.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Much has been made of the Internet.org alliance (release). The mission is to bring internet access to the two-thirds of the world who supposedly have none. It is led, very clearly, by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. Judging from both the website and the release, partners Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia (handset sale to Microsoft, see below), Opera (browser), Qualcomm and Samsung, no minor players, clearly take a secondary role.  The reason given is that internet access is growing at only 9 percent/year. Immediately the D3H tea-leaf readers were all over one seemingly offhand remark made by Mr. Zuckerberg to CNN (Eye emphasis):

“Here, we use Facebook to share news and catch up with our friends but there they are going to use it to decide what kind of government they want, get access to healthcare for the first time ever, connect with family hundreds of miles away they haven’t seen for decades. Getting access to the internet is a really big deal. I think we are going to be able to do it”

Really? The Gimlet Eye thought that mobile phone connectivity and simple apps on inexpensive phones were already spreading healthcare, banking and simple communications to people all over the world. Gosh, was the Eye blind on this?

Looking inside the Gift Horse’s Mouth, and examining cui bono, what may be really behind this seemingly altruistic effort could be…only business. (more…)

Addicted to mobile health? Telepsychiatry to the rescue!

Dr. Joseph Kvedar of Boston’s Center for Connected Health counted himself in this Editor’s camp as annoyed by the mHealth hype (inflicted by those we’ve dubbed the D3HDigital Health Hypester Horde), and far more of a believer in SMS for health programs. His blog post is a ‘kind of edge’ towards thinking that mHealth can be habit-forming. In the CCH’s own clinical trials, more participants have smartphones (tracking the general population’s adoption) even with the lag among those with chronic disease (maybe a question of affordability?) and want apps. And then he sees the pattern of people checking their smartphone obsessively, like budgies with bells and mirrors….along with a study that indicates that patients with a passive sensor to upload blood glucose measurement, rather than pushing a button, were “significantly more adherent to their plan and had better health outcomes.” Not having to do something in the Diabetic’s Perpetual Battle of Stalingrad is addictive? Well, this is edging towards a nomination for ‘What in the Blue Blazes?” Could mobile health become addictive? (CHealth Blog) Hat tip to reader Bob Pyke via Twitter

Well, we can send Dr. K to a connected psychiatrist for a session of e-therapy.  (more…)

The five-point digital health checkup meets the FBQs

Checking up on some of the issues that the D3H crowd (Digital Health Hypester Horde) tends to skip merrily by, Dan Munro’s analysis hits several nails on the head and then some, with his points touching on our FBQs–the Five Big Questions*–we first outlined exactly three years ago (integration was added last year).

  1. Who has the rights to your data? You or only your doctor? (#3) And why not you?
  2. Need drastically improved standards of safety and security in devices. From those black hatted device hackers to the lack of updates by manufacturers and FDA‘s apparent discouragement–it may not be an an FBQ, but it impacts #5, data integration.
  3. Accuracy. Are these devices accurate or only ‘kinda’? How do you play off accuracy versus convenience?
  4. Privacy–what about it? Business models call for sale of ‘de-identified’ data which can be tracked back and re-identified. (#1) And what does your activity say about you-ooooo? (#3)
  5. The business model. Aside from who’s paying for the device and how much (#1, #2), #3 is still there–who’s looking at the data if you purchased the kit? And who’s liable for interpretation–and errors?

5 Point Digital Health Checkup (Forbes)

* The Five Big Questions (FBQs)–who pays, how much, who’s looking at the data, who’s actioning it, how data is integrated into patient records.