Men are from Mars and Women, Venus, when it comes to managing health and using digital tools and apps, based on a poll conducted by A&D Medical, who will be one of several hundred healthcare companies exhibiting at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas.
Digital health, connected homes and cars, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will prominently feature at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. I’ll be attending this mega-conference, meeting up with digital health companies and platform providers that will enable the Internet of Healthy “Me” — consumers’ ability to self-track, manage, and modify health.
#CES2015 (the hashtag to follow on Twitter) will feature an explosion of wearable devices embedded with sensors collecting users’ data across a wide range of activities, from simple activity tracking like steps to sleep, heart function, calorie burn, and the growing personal emergency response system category (PERS) of the new-new “I’m falling and I can’t get up” devices. USA Today covered wearables over the weekend, signalling that the topic has gone mainstream. The proliferation of preprint ads for 2014 holiday shopping also suggested that wearables are being marketed to the mass market.
But the supply side of shiny new things does not a market make. The demand side must be understood in order for the market to get beyond the Hype Cycle. Keeping in mind that Gartner puts Wearables (a big CES category into which a large portion of digital health devices fall) at the apex of the Peak of Inflated Expectations, let’s put some context on digital health for #CES2015.
First, the Mars v. Venus issue: gender disparities in digital health, described through the data story told in the A&D Medical survey of 2,014 U.S. adult consumers in December 2014. I’ve pulled out several key data points in the first chart to identify some of the disparities between men and women when it comes to health concerns and desires for monitoring various health issues. Weight is the only health concern on which equivalent proportions of men and women agree, with 2 in 3 people concerned about their weight. Underneath that number, however, are differences in what bothers people about weight: twice as many men than women are worried about sleep apnea, versus nearly 50% more women concerned about whether their weight gets in the way of their being considered attractive.
One-half of people would want an at-home measurement technology to automatically connect online to a doctor or other self-selected individual (like a family member or friend). More men than women would be interested in home-health monitoring that could digitally connect with health care providers (51% of men vs. 45% of women). And, more men than women would be interested in home monitoring various aspects of health, such as blood pressure, sleep, and physical activity. While most people are concerned about weight, fewer women than men would be keen to monitor weight via a connected device. And very few people overall would be keen to monitor their sexual activity, with more men interested in the concept. As the A&D press release is titled, “Americans Want IOT to Monitor Health, But Not Sex.” (Note that A&D is featuring its Wellness Connected platform and mobile app (pictured) at #CES2015).
It’s also important to note that parents of children in the household are more keen on home health monitoring than households without kids at home — although in general, Millenials also tend to be more keen on self-monitoring health than older people across most of the survey’s parameters.
There’s another study that reinforces the Mars/Venus divide in digital health demands from ARC, which published The 2015 State of the U.S. Health & Fitness Apps Economy in December 2014. ARC evaluated the quality of health apps analyzing consumer-users’ sentiment — that is, peoples’ evaluations of health and fitness apps based on their personal experience. Based on this analysis, ARC found a handful (relative to the roughly 100,000 mHealth apps available) of health and fitness apps that achieved “elite” app quality status: these included Calorie Counter by MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, MapMyRun, and RunKeeper, each earning high quality scores.
If you examine the chart closely, you’ll see that the three highest-rated apps are women-focused: they’re period trackers. Other women’s health apps feature in the most winning/high-rated rankings, including My Pregnancy Today, Pink Pad, BabyBump Pregnancy, and I’m Expecting (much higher rated for Android than IoS). Calorie counting and sports/activity tracking are also top ranked apps, not surprising as these are the two categories that consumers most frequently download from apps stores.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: #CES2015 will launch new-new digital health technologies, as well as new product extensions for existing leaders like FitBit, Jawbone, Misfit Wearables, and Withings among many others. We’ll see more sensors loaded onto single devices — something that consumers want (doing more with one tool in this increasingly app-ified world), and too much competition for our wrists as I pointed out two years ago at 2013 CES.
Some underlying market forces to keep in mind, beyond Mars/Venus gender segmentation, are consumers’ perspectives on privacy and sharing health data; FDA and FTC regulation of digital health devices and privacy issues, respectively; the growth of connected home and connected car offerings as platforms for health; employers’ and health plans’ growing involvement in wellness, such as Oscar (the health plan) allying with Misfit Wearables; consumers’ willingness-to-pay for digital health; and, the user-design challenges of the Internet of Things when it comes to health, home and women.
Stay tuned for my observations from the convention floor via my Twitter handle @HealthyThinker, this Health Populi blog, and an upcoming Huffington Post column on “The Internet of Healthy Me.”