Differentiate with digital

mHealth & Wellness: The Heart Of Mobile Innovation

Julie Ask
Vice President, Principal Analyst
February 4, 2014

I had the opportunity to talk to nearly 50 companies working on mHealth and mWellness services and technologies in 2013. With the perspective of 13 years as a mobile analyst behind me and a career in telecom that started in the late 80's, I say with confidence that this category within mobile is more exciting and has the potential to be more game-changing, than anything since the introduction of the iPhone. Most of you reading this blog are not in healthcare – that's why the report offers a WIM (what it means) for industries outside of health and wellness. 

I started this research journey with a simple mission: "what mobile engagement tactics can and do change consumer behavior?" Or, in other words, what gets people up off the couch? Is it competition, community, feedback, encouragement or coaching, a poke, or what?

  • How did MyFitnessPal facilitate more than 100M pounds of weight loss?
  • How did RunKeeper get their users to move 783 million miles?
  • How did Strava motivate their users to move 1.4 billion kilometers?

Once I learned about the magic of mobile to move consumers, I then translated it into WIM for eBusiness professionals.

Why is the innovation in healthcare/wellness so compelling?

– The barriers to collecting data are so low as to be nearly invisible. Our phones, our socks, our wristbands all collect data and can transmit it over Bluetooth to our phones … which upload it to a server … crunch it … figure out what it means … and then trigger some kind of engagement with consumers that gets them to move or do something. 

– These entrepreneurs are solving problems we all have. There is no one who does not have a personal health problem, wellness goal or friend or family member with one or the other. 

– These services offer a glimpse into the future like no other industry does today. 

– The technology is accessible by all of us … each of us could download an app for free … or buy a wearable for less than $100. 

– This stuff is cool – it'll blow your mind. 

Why do you care?

These mHealth and mWellness innovators are showing us the future – a future where we are all connected through our mobile phones at a minimum, if not other sensors and wearable devices. This future will enable new business models based on data ownership, aggregated and use. The data will offer insights unimagineable today that will drive your decision making. 

I'll share highlights from my favorite story. I had the chance to speak with Don Cowling and Mark Zdeblick at Proteus Digital Health. (And I'll share … I've been wanting to speak with Proteus for at least 3 years since I read about what they are doing. I was so excited to meet Mark at the T-Sensors conference in Palo Alto in October.) They offer an ingestible mechanism that is taken as a capsule alongside medicine or is embedded in a capsule with the medicine directly. It releases a signal with a unique number when it comes into contact with stomach acid. (ok – so far I am just being nerdy). But now … consider what it means … 

  • Doctors know when/if patients are complying with treatment plans
  • Insurers can pay patients as they comply and insist on lower cost treatments plans until they are proven ineffective
  • Patients can set reminders and track their own progress – no more guessing … and they get healthier

Imagine if you had information that helped you price your services better? Imagine if you could track the performance of your product? There is so much potential. 

Go download an app or buy a Fuelband, Fitbit, Up, Basis … or Whistle if you want to put one on your dog and not yourself. Try it – experience the potential to change your behavior in some way or help you to achieve a goal. 

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