2013
05.01

I’ve been particularly interested in the discussion these days about the market for health and fitness trackers and whether or not people are actually using these devices to their advantage. Last week I cited a report from the American Heart Assn., that predicts 8 million people will suffer from heart failure by 2030. To me, I think it speaks volumes to how these organizations perceive the long-term impact of personal health trackers in the prevention of heart diseases.

A few people have chimed in on this subject since that time with some interesting perspective of their own. In particular, Pam Sefrino from INEX ADVISORS writes an in-depth piece about the need to define value proposition in this area (I particulalry like some of the examples she cites). She adds great commentary saying, “Our guess is that most of these quantified self-focused companies haven’t spent enough time talking, and listening to, their target markets and stakeholders. And if they have, they just may not be asking the right questions or going deep enough to get the real answers.”

I think we are on to something here with the argument around providing a good value proposition. The topic came up in a LinkedIn forum, of which I am a part called Digital Health (I highly recommend this group for anyone looking to stay in the know about digital healthcare, by the way). The lead-in to the discussion was around a report that predicts the mHealth sensor market will grow 70% annually. Again, I tend to question such a forecast if the consumers aren’t quite up to speed on how to use the data.

Low and behold, one of the first comments was related to how patients are actually using the data. One response I found interesting came from a radiologist who suggested doctors need to be part of the process in helping patients understand the data. However, as he says, while most doctors would like to discuss wellness plans related to data with their patients, they simply have less time to spend individually with patients. So even if we have this data we lack the expertise to help make use of it.

This goes back to my original argument that says we may have access to the data, but are left with little guidance on how to use it. But maybe we should be putting some leaders in place in the market that take charge and help get consumers involved.  

Now tie in Sefrino’s argument that value propositions around connected health devices needs to “run deep” and you have a story.

Can device makers work with customers to help them understand the data? This is where heavyweights like Nike or Fitbit come in, because they have the power to move markets, in my opinion. I would love to see these companies use their strong influence and brand awareness with the consumer world to help lead the market in this direction.

Perhaps smaller firms that are trying to stand out from the pack can make such a move too, but they might find it to be a bit more difficult a path.

Here is the overriding point: Data is great, but knowing what the data is telling us is even greater. The potential is there, and when it comes to our health I love the idea of taking matters into our own hands for the purposes of being proactive. We are in search of leaders.

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