The wearable market remains competitive. Fitbit has flexibility working for it while wearables like Apple’s Smart Watch is tied exclusively to their products. Does any of that matter when it comes to dominating the market? What’s going to be the secret ingredient for market dominance, do you think?
In the case of Apple, we have seen it transform from a device company into a software company as a means of capturing additional market share. With Fitbit, we are seeing a natively innovative company navigate this same transition. Whoever will eventually dominate the wearables market will need to stay on top of the innovation cycle, and continue to conduct market segmentation based on consumer demand.
Do you think it’s realistic to say that in say 20 years from now we will be collectively monitoring and managing our health via wearable technology? What do you think needs to happen for this vision to become a reality right now? Do you think such an evolution is needed in order for healthcare to effectively instill effective population health management models?
The truth is that this reality is already coming true right now. There are live examples of consumer devices contributing medical-grade data to help people live a better life.
I have no question that we’ll see consumers beginning to broadly use and understand the passive collection of biometric data through mobile devices. With the acceptance of an increasingly connected world comes an understanding that connected medicine is simply the next frontier of development.
However, for wearable health to become a truly mainstream institution for health management, companies producing these devices and apps will have to learn to operate within the accepted reimbursement parameters. This will require the continued edification of nurses and doctors of the value in using these new technologies. The federal government’s push to move away from the traditional fee-for-service reimbursement model, towards a billing model based on patient outcomes is a tremendous proof point that there is an increased appetite for this among the greater healthcare industry.
In fact, I have no doubt that within ten years, we’ll see a collection of large mhealth companies that are publicly traded, profitable, growing quickly at scale, with millions of patients.
Let’s revisit the idea of consumer buy-in again. If it’s true that consumers lose interest in tracking their fitness with devices after 6 months (healthy or otherwise), is it realistic to think we will have better success to monitor and manage chronic diseases with similar products when there is already a disconnect with that person’s sense of self-care? Having a treatable chronic disease demonstrates there is already a challenge in convincing that person to take care of themselves. Can a technological device really help convince them to act/react any different?
The key to have consumers embrace health management technologies is in integration of the data. In the case of chronic disease management, proper data collection and treatment comes down to life-or-death. There are serious complications associated with improperly responding to health hazards, and mobile health technology can only help patients in providing the strategic guidance they need for their treatment. More and more, I’m convinced that we’ll begin to see health data automatically aggregate and technology become truly invisible. With increased integration of the disparate devices available on the market, and the mainstream acceptance among health plans and hospital networks, mobile health is quickly growing in an ecosystem grounded upon integration, reliability, and interoperability.
What’s the true value of the data that lies within digital medicine? Is it realistic to think health providers will be able to effectively tap into that value anytime soon? Unstructured data remains the unbridled horse of healthcare right now. It’s an expensive enterprise for a company to take on (tapping into unstructured data sources like wearables and funneling into proper channels for health management). What’s going to convince health providers to get on board? Will we have to reach a tipping point to convince them?
Telcare’s own proprietary data shows that trust on the consumer side is at a tipping point when using digital medicine tools to treat their health: 57 percent of patients trust technology when paired with the expertise of medical professionals, while 65 want their doctors to incorporate technology into their health plans. As popularity of these devices catapults to critical mass, the price of collecting data is going to drop. On the other hand, traditional device makers and providers are going to find that they can’t compete with the speed and ease at which new technologies will be able to manage patient data. Once these devices become absolutely integral to managing outcomes, then the decision will be easy as far as getting providers to participate.
How will companies like Telcare react to what’s unfolding in the wearable landscape? Are there other applications on the horizon for your company that could translate to use with wearables that exist now or that may be developed in future?
Right now, our company’s main focus is to serve the 29.1 million Americans currently living with diabetes. As our data infrastructure continues to grow, I have no doubt that our platform will have the capability to help patients treat other chronic conditions and ultimately, contribute more fully and comprehensively to the connected care ecosystem.
What do you think we will learn from the performance and prevalence of wearables in the market from companies like Fitbit or Apple over the next few years?
Being true to their mission and beliefs will be the true measure of Fitbit’s success over the next few years. As long as Fitbit continues to innovate, their open data architecture will be the foundation for their participation and leadership in the “mHealth meets care delivery” revolution. Fitbit has also been included in many connected landscapes that include patients in the center. As companies like Fitbit and Apple continue to grow and evolve their health-centric focuses over the coming years, other companies in the health wearables market will seek to fold into a greater connected health ecosystem.
With your extensive experience in healthcare, what would be your advice to the wearable companies out there today when it comes to considering the consumer?
The key for mHealth to work combines solving a basic problem with the reality that healthcare is a regulated industry, and that a physician isn’t going to make a clinical decision based on data that comes from a third party. The foundation for building consumer facing, patient-centric healthcare technology lies in the automatic transmission of data, coupled with consumer-grade simplicity, stored in a completely secure and trusted cloud.
If there is one take away for our readers on the recent events unfolding in the wearables market, what is it, according to your perspective?
Achieving better outcomes for medical conditions is dependent on patients applying better self-care. We all know how tough behavioral change can be, even when we’re ready for it. I would urge readers to think about how wearables companies can support patients in these efforts, via a personalized approach to wearable health that reflects both patients’ unique needs and the preferred practice patterns of their providers.