By Dr. Bettina Experton
When we talk about health tech for consumers – we are really looking at an industry that is rapidly evolving from fitness to health. What does that mean?
Fitness technology appeals to a very specific segment of the population. Users are overwhelmingly young and active and very focused on exercise and diet. But a much larger population of consumers are interested in improving and maintaining their health – beyond tracking steps, heart rate, or sleep. The consumer health tech industry is learning that growth means appealing to this broad universe of potential users.
Good examples of this move are mobile technologies for the management of chronic conditions, like Humetrix’s own Tensio mobile patient coaching platform for managing hypertension. These new products use the consumer’s own health information and apply data analytics and algorithms to coach and guide them toward making healthy lifestyle choices, and complying with their doctor’s medication treatment and care plan.
These new approaches require a much more complex offering than simple fitness biometric products that count steps or measure heart rate. When managing a chronic condition, the value of the device itself can be greatly magnified if it is embedded with or connected to intelligent software that applies smart analytics and algorithms on a comprehensive set of personal health data.
Until now, connecting to the critical health information that will power these new coaching solutions has been a challenge – so progress has been stalled. Today, new HIPAA laws give consumers the right – and the means – to access electronic versions of their own health records and port it to the mobile applications that are powering these new health-coaching platforms.
This development, along with growth among devices that allow consumers to digitally monitor their own blood pressure, blood glucose, and other health parameters, has made it possible for intelligent software solutions to bring health applications and devices to the next level of personalized chronic care management.
There is a revolution taking place today – consumers are no longer passive patients, but rather, active participants in their own healthcare. They need more intelligent and smarter devices that help them take control of their own health. The tracking device on its own is not enough. It is the device connected software that guides and informs us and helps us make smart decisions that can improve health outcomes.
The health tech industry is on an interesting path toward putting medical intelligence and powerful computing technology in the hands of consumers so they can better manage their health in consultation with their physicians. We must also focus on educating everyone about their right to access and use their own health records – and clearly illustrate the benefits of doing so. With the right information at our fingertips everyone will now be able to use this next generation of tracking devices to take control of their health and make meaningful changes in how they take care of themselves.
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