All I Want for Christmas Is Connected Health

I was interviewed yesterday for the weekly mHealth Zone show by Happtique. I was the first interview the show had last year in December 2011 and it was great to be back on. The weekly show is worth tuning in as a great way to catch up on news and events in mobile and health tech.

The first question they asked me was if I thought mobile health was moving as quickly as I’d like to see. My response was no. I don’t think it could possibly be moving as fast as I’d like to see it moving. But I also feel like mobile and connected health is an exceptionally exciting area of technology and healthcare. It has tons of potential for impact that reaches all populations. It just takes time and I’m impatient, but I think we should all be impatient so that we keep pushing this industry forward.

After the interview I was thinking about how I write and talk about connected health. I realized sometimes I’m a bit pessimistic and I get frustrated with the pace of connected health adoption and scale. This is reflected in how I write, and might give the wrong impression of my feelings and interest in mobile health. I might not agree with all the hype in mobile health or the path to scale, but I do believe that connected health has the potentially to fundamentally change how patient receive and physicians provide health-related services.

On top of that reflection and clarification, it’s just about Christmas and I’m feeling particularly jolly. Part of that jolliness is associated with the realization I had that most of the gifts I bought for family and friends — and most of what I asked for — is connected health related. Somebody asked me the other day for present ideas for his parents and four out five of the items I suggested were connected health devices. The suggestions and purchases aren’t for my own academic or research interests. I really think this stuff is cool and think others would as well if they knew what was out there.

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What does a connected health Christmas look like at my house? For my sister, who’s 22, we bought her a Fitbit Ultra. She’s a pretty active college kid with an iPhone, so I think she’ll enjoy tracking her movement. She doesn’t use any other mobile apps to quantify herself. I’m curious if this catches on with her.

nike

I got my mom a Fuelband. She used to run a lot, but now she prefers to walk, and she has been trying to do it more regularly. I’m hoping the Fuelband and app will make it easy for her to stay motivated, especially if I can nag her from afar when she doesn’t hit her goal. I’ve now had my Fuelband for six weeks and have come to love it. I even ran around in the snow late last night just to hit 10,000 fuel points for the day, which is my personal best. My wife hates losing to me, so I sometimes I catch her air boxing before bed to try to beat my points for the day.

aria

We got my mother-in-law and father-in-law an Aria Scale from Fitbit. It’s the same scale I use. Since I’m sure my in-laws will be going on some diet after the New Year (they do it every year), I thought this would be a fun thing for them to track their progress. Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, did anybody else see that HealthTap added functionality to help people find resolutions that are supported by doctors? I haven’t tried it, but it sounded like a good way to capitalize on the motivation to get healthy.

ibg

I got my dad an iBGStar iPhone Glucometer. He has challenges managing his blood sugar, so I’m hoping this keeps us more connected since he lives in Florida and I live in Wisconsin. I think I would have preferred to get him the Glooku cable for his existing glucometer, but that doesn’t have FDA approval and I don’t have any Canadian friends to get me one. The iBGStar is attached to the iPhone, so at least he won’t have to carry his testing stuff in an extra bag. I just learned that my dad reads this blog, so I’ve told him not to check it until after Christmas. He’s not in healthcare (other than being a patient of course), so I was surprised to learn that he’s a regular reader.

igrill

Mobile and connected health is so cool. I hope my family agrees when they open their presents. I’m buried in snow and facing blistering wind, but at least it’s white. I’m on the hook to smoke a turkey on Christmas Day and I’m hoping that somebody paid attention to the iGrill bluetooth thermometer I had on my list. Happy Holidays!

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Travis Good is an MD/MBA involved with health IT startups. More about me.

  • Charlie

    Hey Travis,

    Totally agree with the very cool Connected Health gifts you provided to your family. Ditto on being buried in snow…I’m a Mid Michigan guy, so we just got hammered, too. And double ditto with ya’, as my Dad living in FLA, as us six kids live up in Michigan…remote monitoring of GrandPa getting difficult…etc.

    I’ve been ‘monitoring’ this Connected Health zone for about 5 years now. No, I’m not a physician or university educator or some kind of healthcare advocate. Just a humble IT sales guy, that has successfully sold large IT products and solutions the past 20 years. (I began the self-education process of Connected Health, because of my Dad) What I see is lacking is a defined execution strategy…it’s a selling issue.

    Yep, there are the App Guys. OK for some, but my Dad isn’t going to embrace long-term.

    Yep, there are the Device Guys (as you indicated above), but they are based on hope. Hope YOU find them on the web or at StuffMart. Hope you purchase. Hope your family engages and embraces…etc. They are simply content with moving/selling product.

    Yep, there are the on-line portals or health records folks…generally large insurance companies (yuk!) or provided by specific healthcare providers like Kaiser, Mayo, Clev Clinic…etc. Maybe only hoping to lower their % of readmissions?

    All very worthy and even some very cool products/solutions. But I have yet to find one that is selling it right…to the millions of ‘our Dads’ down in FLA. And yep, you may even toss some of these ‘successful’ companies my way. Please do…I’ve talked to many of them, and most have some major holes in their selling a true solution, to the masses…for wide-scale adoption…and finally getting to that (often over-used term) Disruptive Stage.

    And yep…I think I have thought thru many of these paths. But I’ve approached in my humble Sales Guy way, first. Not viewing via the device/gadget guys, or big insurance, or HC providers (though I did go down all those very cumbersome and often waaaayyy too regulated paths…ugly stuff). I began to look at what a solution needs to provide and ‘feel like’ to my Dad (and the 300+ folks in his active senior community)…and how and what I would need to sell to that one community…and then I cookie-cutter that to the next community right next-door (which has 700+ homes)..and then the next…etc. You get the deal.

    I get that I may be summarizing, and maybe making it sound easier than it is. The sales game is both easy and difficult. But I say, if you have a solution that tons of folks may really, really want (which is where I say TeleHealth, mHealth, remote health monitoring…etc. is at), but not “moving at the speed of adoption rate….we’re getting impatient…etc.” then might it be the sales execution strategy is the core/real problem?

    And lucky you, you caught my attention as someone I’d like to chat further with. Though, not very professional just babbling this scattered blast via a blog. But that is not to say that I haven’t thought thru the many avenues, or the why/how scenarios on what can be sold…and a mini biz plan. I have much more to share!

    Would love to chat soon.

    Merry Christmas – Charlie

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