The first health news I read this morning in my Google Alerts was a press release explaining that Nokia planned to acquire Withings for EU170 (about $190mm). As an early adopter and devoted user of the Withings Smart Body Analyzer, I took this news quite personally. “What will Nokia be doing with my beloved Withings?” I asked myself via Twitter early this morning.
As if on cue, a public relations pro with whom I’ve been collegial for many years contacted me to see if I’d like to talk with the Founder and CEO of Withings, Cédric Hutchings, and Ramzi Haidamus, President of Nokia Technologies.
But of course! I immediately responded. This afternoon, I had that conversation with Hutchings and Haidamus, first asking about Nokia’s digital health vision.
Haidamus shared that Nokia and Withings are, in his words, “100% aligned to provide seamless, frictionless, beautifully designed products that integrate day-to-day to provide you with a healthier, happier life. This doesn’t happen by providing you with a tracker or monitor, but works by monitoring your entire well-being which extends beyond your self and your body,” Haidamus explained.
Well-being doesn’t only cover physical health, but includes our home environment: the quality of the air we breathe, the temperature, and physical security. “We believe in environmental monitoring along with your monitored self” driving healthy living, he further detailed.
Haidamus has also been a Withings user, and his experience has impressed him through the company’s “ability to provide beautifully designed products that can make you want to use them over and over.” By helping people modify their lifestyles “a tiny bit,” say through better sleep and waking up — “that’s the kind of light touch we want to have on people to lead a happier life,” Haidamus envisioned. As a brand, the Nokia digital health organization aspires to be about trust and reliability, through bringing wonderful products that bring out the best in people.
Part of that reliability will be through streamlining devices and data through an Internet of Things (IoT) approach. IoT in digital health (via connected health/care and wellness devices) is growing well over 30% a year. Nokia is betting that as people have begun to manage health via mobile platforms, personal health data won’t reside on a single wearable or device or solely in the electronic health record (EHR), but will be generated through multiple sources. Nokia has already been working on IoT analytics platforms for networks. Out of all areas of IoT, Haidamus said, digital health and wellcare are compelling. “Wellcare” means the platform must be trusted, secure and simple to use to support an experience built around sensors, data and insights. The organization seeks to become a trusted source for wellbeing related to yourself and the community around you that cares about you.
Hutchings noted that the IoT is an enabler of streamlining fragmented devices and health care providers’ information: “We have to come out of the era of friction and fragmented devices and must play into meaningful action.” This means that the Withings-Inside-Nokia will go beyond direct-to-consumer (wellness and health) to work with healthcare providers. Wellcare also includes corporate wellness programs, and the role that Nokia/Withings would play in “facilitating conversation between major players” in health and health care through collaborations and partnerships.
I carefully titled this post leading with “Withings Inside.” That’s because Haidamus clearly stated that Hutchings will be at the core of the digital health initiative, leading teams in San Francisco and Finland that will report directly to him.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: The Nokia-Withings combination is one among several digital health initiatives that seek to streamline health data and devices, develop a health data ecosystem beyond healthcare’s EHR, and empower health consumers and care providers to self-care at home and deliver greater value and outcomes through the healthcare system. Other health data ecosystems moving in this direction through collaborations are Apple HealthKit and ResearchKit, IBM Watson Health, and Under Armour, among others.
What strikes me about this particular deal is the leaders’ repeating the mantras of trust and community. In my work with the Edelman Health Engagement Barometer survey in 2008, we learned that the #1 precursor to a consumer’s engaging in health was trust, followed by authenticity and satisfaction.
Self-health and DIY health care is not about technology: it’s about personal health, well-being, and social health via community. Health engagement is also bolstered through user-centered design, and “enchanted” objects about which David Rose has talked and written.
I know I’ve been enchanted by a Wi-Fi enabled scale for several years, which has supported my own personal health engagement and spread, socially, to others in my social network. I’m looking for that enchantment to continue through Withings-Inside-Nokia.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: ss