Revolutionizing personal health through wearables & mHealth innovations

We've all heard about electronic health records, fitness apps for your smartphone and wearable fitness trackers.

mHealth (mobile health) is no longer the new kid on the block. We're now moving into the phase where wearables are a part of the mainstream lifestyle.

How many of your friends, family members or co-workers have a RunKeeper app on their phone, or are wearing a FitBit? Chances are, it's a lot of them. While there is some criticism around the abandonment rates for wearables, this is a natural phenomenon at every hype cycle, where clear winners will dominate with major consolidation.

The average individual is increasingly taking more and more personal responsibility for their own well-being, and the rise of wearables is helping them be successful on this journey, giving them insights into their own habits and trends.

The first crop of early adopters and quantified self geeks helped prove the market demand for more and more health-related technology. Items like the FitBit, Breeze and HealthKit have shown that people want to collect—and most importantly, utilize—their own health data to stay active and fit.

What is the future of mHealth?
In some ways, the future is already here, but the utilization of data and the gamification aspect of health are still very much in their infancy.

Big data is the newest frontier that needs to be explored, extensively driven by all the surrounding devices and sensors that are part of the Internet of Body Things. However, collecting data is only as useful as your ability to utilize it. Bean counting for bean counting's sake doesn't help improve the world in any way. It doesn't help with:

  • the advancement of technology,
  • the growth of a business, nor
  • the betterment of our own personal health

The key to big data is in giving people the right information to look at and in a way that makes it easy for them to understand and take action. mHealth is leading the way in many aspects of making Big Data useful to people in their everyday lives.

Two major mHealth trends center around two major concepts:

  1. Health insurance providers creating incentive-based fitness apps and programs.
  2. Products that allow providers and consumers to work together seamlessly to track personal health.

Incentive-based fitness programs via wearables
Companies like SocialWellth are teaming up with health insurance providers to create programs that allow their customers the ability to incentivize their fitness through an app on their smartphone or through the use of a wearable such as a FitBit.

By offering these new mHealth products, the everyday person is able to be a more informed participant in staying healthy because these products:

  • Deliver useful content,
  • Provide data in an actionable and useful way to users
  • Ensure the privacy and security of their personal data

A great example of this is SocialWellth's "WellthyMoves" program. This program uses the connection with and the data from a participant's wearable/smartphone to:

  • Deliver relevant and useful content and data to the participant
  • Connect the participant with others so they can work as a team or have a little healthy competition amongst themselves
  • Gamifies activity by providing badges, currency and rewards for multiple levels of activity or behavior

Fitness tracking and provider/patient partnering
All of this personal health data is great for consumers, but what about our healthcare providers? One of the missing pieces in mHealth is in sharing this data with our doctors, so that they have a fuller picture of our overall health.

New apps are being built everyday for just this purpose. Some are enterprise level solutions that tie into the electronic health record programs your provider utilizes, and some are more commercial products based on an ailment or disease like Type 2 Diabetes.

Validic is a great example of a company that has over 175 integrations and over 160M consumers passing through their platform with a single focus on delivering "quick and simple access to digital health data, enabling their clients to better manage and engage their populations"

These types of integrated solutions allow practitioners the ability to see real life consumer data in real or near real time. Considering that patients spend the majority of their time outside of the healthcare system, the ability to recommend health and wellness lifestyle changes—and sometimes even care pathway modifications—is key to the patient/physician engagement and shared decision making.

The upswing for the insurance companies, besides being able to offer superior services to their customers, is found in their ability to gain micro-insights into health trends that will allow them to iterate newer and better versions of these products and services to their customers.

Conclusion
There are many more examples across the ecosystem as well as many digital health champions that are running along the bleeding edge of innovation. While the critics are pushing back on lack of evidence, the masses are quickly beginning to leverage the abundance of apps and devices to take ownership of their health.

Eugene Borukhovich is the Senior Vice President and Global Vertical Leader, Healthcare for SoftServe, Inc. He is an international expert on healthcare information technology innovation, and is a leading advocate in healthcare consumer issues and open health data. Eugene founded Health 2.0 NYC and Amesterdam and is a frequent speaker globally on HealthIT topics. He is also a frequent contributor to the SoftServe United blog so feel free to follow him there.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

 

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