MFP acquired by Under Armour Connected Health Feb 15

65 million people know that food journaling works for losing weight, that it’s engaging to do on a well-designed app, and that health is social. MyFitnessPal (MFP) has the distinction of being a top health app used longer by more people and more effectively than probably any other mobile health tool.

Under Armour, the athletic goods company, now has MFP under its corporate umbrella, along with Endomondo, another very popular motivating mobile health tool.

You may know Under Armour as a company that manufactures and markets functional workout gear. But this deal is so not about the wearable.

It’s about building a health data ecosystem, the kind my smart colleague Carol Torgan terms an Electronic Fitness Record (EFR). Carol riffs off of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) concept, which is taking off in the health care system: in doctors’ offices and in hospitals, motivated by financial incentives afforded through the HITECH Act which was bundled into the Stimulus Bill (aka ARRA, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That’s the digital locus for patients’ personal health care information generated during visits to doctors, clinics, clinical labs, imaging centers, pharmacies, and other touchpoints in the health care system.

In Carol’s framing, the EFR is the health record, corralling personal health information – those Observations of Daily Living like food intake and activity (including exercise), mood and stress, sleep and pain. These are the factors that can bolster (or diminish) health, wellness and vitality every day.

Carol spotted the self-tracking-meets-ready-to-wear trend in her blog post written back on November 6, 2011. She’s also tracked health wearables on her voluminous Pinterest board on the topic).

Now, just over 3 years later, Under Armour exemplifies the fact that it’s not about the shirt – it’s about the data. UA came out at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show when the company announced the “definitive” digital health and fitness network, UA Record. The so-called connected-fitness platform enables developers to integrate with the platform in an open API environment. Here’s a link to the Under Armour Developer Platform.

Under Armour also streamline’s a consumer’s journey toward self-tracking on their .com site by linking people to a shopping on-ramp that helps people find the right device for their goals, as well as linking people up with coaching and nutritional information and a social platform for creating circles of people to workout with, track with, compete with. That streamlining of functions in one place is important to people who can quickly drop out of a healthy living regimen when it doesn’t seamlessly fit into their life-flow.

Here’s what Mike Lee, Co-Founder and CEO, wrote on the MFP blog about the UA vision for the combined companies.

I had the good fortune to interview the Mike Lee and Albert Lee, MFP’s two co-CEOs and brothers, at the 8th annual Health 2.0 Conference in September 2014. That’s when I heard Mike say, “the phone is the gateway drug to health.”

That interview can be viewed here – click on “3 CEOs with Albert and Mike Lee, MyFitnessPal.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Albert Lee and Mike Lee know that it’s successful, happy users who are the best marketers for a product. In the case of MFP, these product champions are millions health-activated, engaged people who are making healthier choices, every day. This community has grown over nine years, building on trust and satisfaction over time. MFP is a trusted brand, and UnderArmour acquires that brand equity at a rate of about $6 a member, according to this analysis on MedCity News.

The tagline for UA Record is, “You Get Connected. You Get Inspired. You Get Better.” This speaks to real people where they live, work, play.

My parting advice to the Electronic Medical Records community chasing after patient engagement and meaningful use: figure out how to work in this open API, connected health world. “Connecting” happens via the technology, to be sure: but to people, the meaningful Connecting is the social and emotional, getting inspired and getting better.