The Problem With Wearables And Consumer Health Tech Today
The Biggest Opportunity In Consumer HealthTech
Within moments of starting my car, I know whether there are any major mechanical or maintenance issues that could prevent me from getting to where I need to go.
There’s the check engine light, the tire pressure monitor, the odometer, the fuel gauge, and there are even icons to indicate if all doors are properly closed. There’s also a bunch of other things I don’t fully understand.
It’s great because you can see all of the relevant data in one general place - the dashboard.
Your car may be different and my car is far from fancy, but on balance, many modern vehicles have a simple way to see most of the critical status and diagnostic information that you need.
Why isn’t the same true for the human body?
Just as we fuel, clean, service, and push our cars to the extreme limits on a regular basis, we do the same for our bodies. Yet, we don’t have an organized place to monitor everything related to our general health and wellness.
This comes at a time when consumer technology enables us to measure, track and optimize for practically everything about our body. Apple Watches, Oura Rings, step-counters, and take-home kits are all part of the technological movement to give us more data about lifestyle.
I’m really fascinated with health technology and innovation in the wellness space, which can be seen from the numerous previous articles I’ve written on the subject.
Wearable devices, weight scales, blood sugar and glucose monitors, blood work, information from your last doctor visit, and countless other pieces of data are housed in separate places that often require an advanced degree to decipher.
The data lives in so many separate places that don’t communicate with other inputs.
The fact that this information is largely siloed and disconnected is a massive problem and one that I would wager is inadvertently costing us meaningful amounts of money as consumers and as an economy.
We are undoubtedly missing out on clear correlations or associations between behaviors and outcomes.
If the last year taught us anything, it’s that being able to proactively monitor and address health concerns should be a bigger priority.
Wearable companies like Whoop have stated that its technology can predict the risk of deadly respiratory diseases. Data like that can subsequently nudge a person to get tested or seek medical treatment. How much more could be gleaned if data like this was layered with other pieces of health information captured from other medical devices or software?
The obvious explanation about why things are the way they are ranges from multiple companies in the health and hardware stack owning the data and there aren’t clear standards or means for interoperability. Pair that with the fact that healthcare privacy laws create constraints around how data can be accessed.
But should those things stop us from unlocking the real insights, recommendations, and obvious medical suggestions that could result from combining two or more pieces of data? Of course not.
How much more valuable would a general health and wellness smart dashboard be to all consumers than what we have today?
This doesn’t mean that any organization should have more or less of your data than they have today, but simply the ability to let you use your data to better understand it.
A common language, platform, and standard would go a long way in truly empowering consumers. Whether this new standard comes in the form of open source technology, an API, non-private entity, or nonprofit can be up for debate.
What shouldn’t be up for debate is the practical need for a common language.
Companies like Human API and others appear to be tackling part of this problem, but the lack of widespread prevalence of similar technology demonstrates an increased need on this front.
If you too see the problem and opportunity in this space, let this article serve as a push to move us in the right direction to finally bridge technology, data, and consumer usability in a way that hasn’t been done before.
How would your lifestyle change if you could connect all the dots on your health and wellness map?
Great article! This is also why primary care providers are so important to keep people healthy. If our healthcare environment properly used a combination of data, encouraged long-term primary care providers and consumer/holistic health, we'd see significantly improved outcomes. Great article from Atul Gawande on this: https://www.fastcompany.com/90590937/atul-gawande-interview-haven-healthcare