Health is where we live, work, play and pray — my and others’ mantra if we want to truly bend (down) the cost curve and improve medical outcomes. If we’re serious about achieving the Triple Aim — improving public health, lowering spending, and enhancing the patient/health consumer experience (which can drive activation and ongoing engagement) — then you see health everywhere at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. With this post, I’ll share with you the major themes I’m seeing at #CES2015 related to health, wellness, and DIYing medical care at home.
The meta: from health care to self-care. At Honeywell, a long-term player in home security and more recently remote health monitoring (RHM), we meet Seymour. Seymour will extend Honeywell’s work in RHM, populating traditional medical data with consumer-generated health data, backed by algorithms to drive decisions to the point of care, and closer to the patient for self-care. The company is working with health care providers, the initial customer for Seymour, to prove out use cases this year. From health care to self- care is an underlying force for consumer-facing health devices, as people take on more financial skin-in-the-game with high-deductible health plans, as well as adopt greater health engagement to stay well and fit. There’s also evidence of more doctors on the ground at CES this year: for example, the American Academy of Family Practice participated in the conference with the terrific tagline, #HealthIsPrimary. This means that health care providers have begun to embrace the fact that health “care” is now a retail phenomenon that goes well beyond gym memberships and vitamins, minerals and supplements.
Health coaching goes direct-to-consumer and to the home. NBCUniversal’s launch of Radius, a fitness channel, drives health and fitness content to the home via the TV (via Comcast) and mobile platforms. Here, entertainment meets up with health, a match that can help a segment of already-committed fitness folks as well as real people who want get fit but not head out to the gym. Radius has a team of charismatic trainers at the ready to motivate us to move right and well in the privacy of our homes. They’re working with a broad range of popular fitness apps that people already use with significant market traction, such as Jawbone, Misfit, Polar, and others — making manifest the goal of becoming, in its words, a “fully convergent fitness media brand.” Think of this as fitness-on-demand. Rise, the health app, is also part of this consumer health coaching trend, working with health counselors like nutritionists, extending a fitness tool beyond data tracking which in itself has become commoditized. On that score…
The wrist is so 2012. There are well over 80 dedicated health/fitness bands at CES 2015, and this doesn’t include smartwatches (many of which will incorporate health tracking features as they continue to be shipped through 2015). Some of us see wristbands now as a bubble in the wearables segment, with little differentiation between them except for fashion affiliations (Swarovski + Misfit Wearables, Tory Burch + Fitbit) and a Pantone-inspired palette of color choices for many brands’ bands. Expect other body parts to be involved in tracking beyond the wrist – such as “hearables” (vs. “wearables”) for sensing health metrics. Nick Hunt recently observed, “the ear is the new wrist.” Valencell has been a pioneer in adapting ear buds to sensing. Look for expanding ear sensors for pulse oximetry, heart rate, blood pressure, and even ECG measurement. And expect a consolidation of wristband-based health trackers in favor of the smartphone taking over the role of consumer fitness and medical channel (eventually for blood glucose monitoring as the FDA gets its arms around that capability).
Mindfulness meets up with tech. Mindfulness is a key consumer trend overall, and it’s showing up in consumer electronics: THINK – meditation meets the microchip. Yoga mats can be embedded with sensors, such as the SmartMat featured at CES 2015, marketing itself as the first “responsive” yoga mat. WIRED called it a “bossy yoga mat” in its coverage of the product. NeuroSky offers functionality to marry heart function, mindfulness and stress management embedded in a variety of form factors, from tracking devices to watches and wristbands. The Muse headband, present at CES 2014, is back this year with its brainwave reading and goal of enabling consumer calm.
Sleep is the new luxury good. I’ve covered the sleepless epidemic for some time – here’s my coverage of sleep from last year’s CES. There’s growing evidence of the role of sleep in health, weight loss, and even financial wellness. SleepNumber, the bed company, offers a new SleepIQ bed for kids with a sleep tracking system, retailing around $1,000. The new Misfit Wearables Bolt bulb connects to a sleep tracking system, comes in great colors with effects, and retails under $50 – a nice price point relative to other smart bulbs in the IoT category. Wearables are also integrating sleep sensors that add functionality to activity tracking, found in many of the best-selling wristband brands.
Be your kid’s pediatrician. While we don’t advocate your child going without an ongoing relationship with a pediatric medical home, we do embrace a greater DIY, MakerHealth approach to caring for kids at home. This year, the Cellscope emerges as a useful tool to help families whose children suffer from chronic ear infections, a real medical management challenge for many kids and their parents. You can also Quantify Your Kid in a variety of ways, in and out of the crib depending on the age of your child. Toothbrushes are embedded with sensors and gamification to drive greater dental health. And there’s a growing supply of alcohol breathalyzers if you’re a parent whose kid is at risk for drunk driving: two such devices include Alcohoot (which showed at CES 2014) and this year’s new entrant, FLOOME. While we advocate a “Just Say No” approach to alcohol consumption among high schoolers, there may be a market for these products in under-21 populations for parents who entrust cars to their teenage drivers.
Putting the data together: health data ecosystems in progress. There’s so much data, data everywhere generated by consumer-facing health and fitness devices which remains quite separate from medical claims and electronic health records data in the health care system, hospitals and doctors’ practices. But there’s also evidence that platforms are coming together for data collection and aggregation to help people and providers move from data fragmentation to data liquidity, aggregation and actionability. Walgreens announced its alliance with Qualcomm, with the underlying objective of making sense out of sensor-generated data while bolstering retail health as a support for patient self-care. Under-Armour, too, expanded a platform for health data aggregation. The iFit connected fitness platform promoted “whole life” recommendations including nutrition, sleep, and exercise as part of an #iFitLife theme. The health data ecosystem will be a major issue this year as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung grow their presence in smartwatches, IoT, and health technology.
Food in the Internet of Things ecosystem. The AARP recently wrote about food being a top-searched subject. Making food at home is better for us, and also saves money and drives a caring home (more on that below in the Hot Points). While cooking good food is getting easier and more connected (with home delivery of ingredients a growing trend), easily measuring and recording food composition through the day for health is still elusive. On the cooking front, I happened upon the Perfect Bake app, measuring bowl and scale set that can help bakers scale recipes when running low on chocolate chips or upping yields for Thanksgiving stuffing: really useful when you can’t get to the store after work but have a hankering to bake a small batch of cookies or feed an unanticipated bunch of kids who show up at your home after school. The Internet of Things brings with it connected home technologies that could make us feel like Jane Jetson commandeering Rosie the Robot in the kitchen and laundry room. On the other hand, streamlining the measuring and tracking of our food content for nutrition and health is still elusive. The SCiO scanner is a kind of digital “wand” that can be waved over food to gauge carbs, and purportedly perceive the difference between a Coke or a Pepsi. This is still in development mode and not priced for consumer scaleability yet, so for 2015, we’ll be sticking close to My Fitness Pal, Lose It!, and other useful food tracking apps that marry to our activity trackers and WiFi scales.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: We are going well beyond wristbands and activity tracking to get to health where we live, work, and play. The Internet of Things can be a platform for health — to enable self-care in fitness and in sickness, healthy home-making, and telehealth with health care providers.
My time spent with the team in the Whirlpool exhibit of smart home technology supports a macro perspective of making health, and care, at home. The new tagline for Whirlpool’s smart home devices is: Every Day, Care. The underlying message is: the care you show your loved ones translates into them learning to care and love. It’s a virtuous cycle of care, and caring.
This is the essence of health: not sensors or medical technology, not hardware or smartwatches. Health is made, mostly, outside of the health care system: with good nutritious food, clean water, activity and safe spaces for walking and playing, getting quality sleep, not smoking…and indeed, love and personal peace. All of these factors drive health.
The Whirlpool message speaks about more than health care, but the social determinants of health and wellbeing.
I’ve put over 38,000 steps onto the Jawbone UP24 in the past 48 hours, spending time with developers in the categories of health and fitness, Internet of Things and smart home, 3D printing and child-focused technologies to weave these trends. I’ve also attended several closed meetings with industry analysts, pharma and medical tech companies, and media gurus to weave in larger demographic, economic, and technology forces into this Health Populi snapshot. Stay tuned over the coming days and weeks for more analysis on health emerging out of #CES2015.