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The mHealth Move from Direct to Consumer to Employer Health

I’m starting to see a trend that’s happening over and over again in the mobile health space. Many mHealth companies focus initially on direct to consumer. They put their app on the app store and wait for the patients to come rolling in. Unfortunately, Field of Dreams was wrong when it said, “If you build it, they will come.” Mobile health companies quickly realize that marketing a mobile health app direct to consumers is a really tough business. Plus, consumers can be really fickle and so it’s hard to make money even if you do get some traction and following.

In the startup world when something like this happens, they do what they call a “pivot.” Essentially they pivot their product from one business model to a new one. Sometimes that means basically scrapping their product and starting a new one. Other times it’s applying their technology to a new space.

The pivot I’ve seen most often with mHealth companies is the pivot away from a consumer health application to an employer health application. Many employers are looking for ways to improve the health of their employees since their healthcare costs are huge and real. So, a mobile health company can make an ROI case for why the employer should buy their product. I won’t dig into the ROI of employer health here, but I should in a future post.

I had one guy I talked to recently basically say that healthcare startups should focus on the employer health space. He saw that as the real opportunity for a healthcare startup to be successful. While I certainly find the employer health space intriguing, I’m not sure it’s the best space for healthcare startup companies. A lot of it depends on the company and the DNA of the people at that company.

What I do see is a trend of mobile health companies interested in employer health. I’ll be interested to see how many of them give it a go and then pivot back to being consumer health focused companies.

May 7, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Pilotitis in Wired Health Drawing

I always love these drawings at events. This one was done at the Cisco Breakfast at the Wired Health event. My favorite part of this is what they call “Pilotitis.” I’m not sure what exactly they meant by it, but I’ve seen a lot of ways you could apply pilotitis. Whether it’s organizations that can’t get out of the pilot phase of the business or whether it’s healthcare organizations that want to pilot everything and can’t make any real decisions.

April 30, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Fuelband Team Fired

In the world of wearables, the Nike FuelBand was one of the rockstar products out there. So it was intriguing to see the report from CNet that Nike was fireing the majority of the FuelBand team. Plus, they note that they will stop making wearable hardware. They will continue to sell the FuelBand SE, but won’t be bringing the slimmer version to market like they’d planned this Fall. They will continue to improve the Nike+FuelBand App.

This is an interesting move by Nike. I wonder what led to this decision. Was it an issue internal to Nike or did they just see that they had no need to be doing the hardware since there were plenty of alternatives out there. They could just use their brand and some Nike powered apps with the existing hardware on the market? It would be hard to argue that there hasn’t been a huge interest in this type of fitness tracking product.

One potential issue is that the fitness tracking product line is finding that retention of users is a big problem. People start using a fitness tracker and do so quite well for a month or two. After that, they stop using it because they’ve already more or less seen the results and the data. This is the challenge these fitness trackers face. How do you keep the product interesting and continually engage users.

Nike getting out of the hardware game isn’t really a big issue since there are so many other trackers. However, I wonder if it’s a clue as to what else might be happening in the market.

April 23, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Tiny Vital Sign Chip

Check out this article that writes about a tiny chip which can make it cheaper and easier to monitor your vital signs.

The technology is called “ultrawideband,” and very well could mean the end of bulky, expensive, power-consuming electronic health monitors that take up space and hurt your wallet. The researchers plan to work with private companies and move the technology into the marketplace by mid-2013.

There are no batteries, and the energy is drawn from radio frequencies via nearby cell phone towers. The information on the chip can be tethered to cell phones and the OSU team has funding to build an app and cloud monitoring for storing the data.

For those of you who clicked over to the article, you’ll realize that the article is from 2012. That’s what I think is so amazing. Imagine what they’ve done since then.

Regardless of this specific technology, the sensors we’re using to monitor our health are getting smaller and smaller and more effective at what they do. How amazing that it’s able to get its power from nearby cell phone towers? Plus, they’re working to offer this chip for only 25 cents.

I love that we’re still barely at the beginning of this health sensor revolution. 10 years from now we’ll look back and this chip will be considered a huge chip.

April 16, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Eating is So Personal

The always insightful Dr. Kvedar has a great post up on the cHealth blog. The full post is worth a read, but I was struck by his analysis and experience tracking the food he ate. I’ve seen so many apps that are working on ways for you to track your eating habits. It’s amazing how sophisticated many of them have become at trying to simplify the entry of the food you eat.

However, Dr. Kvedar points out a major problem with tracking the food you eat. We all have a very personal and emotional connection to food. Food is so much apart of every culture and much of our lives revolves around food. It stirs up so many emotions. The idea of tracking the food we eat can really impact us in a way that’s not so good. It’s like we’re being judged on what we eat every time we enter the info into the app. Who wants to be judged all the time? Especially when it comes to something as personal as food?

My wife used one of these apps for a little while and then just stopped using it. This is a problem for those app makers. My wife described how the app was good, because it helped her know what she was eating and the impact it would have on her weight loss efforts. However, once she’d learned those things, she wasn’t getting the same value out of the app.

Personally, I just don’t see myself ever using one. I’d hate to be judged every time I was eating. Plus, I try to make up for bad eating with extra exercise. We’ll see when that finally catches up to me. Either way, I’ll be surprised if I ever start tracking my eating habits. Maybe once the tracking just happens automatically.

April 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

EKG As A Password

I’ve heard a lot of different biometric passwords in my day, but I hadn’t heard of using your EKG as a password until Dr. Patricia Salber pointed it out on her blog, The Doctor Weighs In. Here’s a video of Dr. Salber talking about the new technology called the Nymi.

I can see problems with using the EKG as a password, but I still love that they’re working on it. Maybe it won’t be the cure to passwords that we all want, but this could also be a continuous EKG monitor, no? My feeling is that by digging into the uniqueness of the EKG for personal identification, we’ll discover and learn a lot about our personal EKG.

April 3, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

The 3 Pillars of mHealth

I’ve been digging into the mHealth world for a number of years. As I look at the mHealth marketplace, I see it working in a number of interesting directions. Each has its own promise and there’s some overlapping technologies which I think often confuses the market. However, I think that we can break the mHealth market into the following 3 areas:

Consumer mHealth – This area of mHealth is dominated by the various fitness trackers, but also is probably 90% mobile health apps you find on the app stores). This is taking your mHealth product direct to the consumer. This isn’t a doctor recommended product. This is consumers seeing a health and fitness product that they want and they start using it on their own. We’ve seen millions of people adopt these technologies and you can be sure that we’ll see millions more.

What’s interesting about this market is the challenge it is to maintain a user base. The biggest trend with all of these applications and devices is that people use them for the first couple months and then stop. How many of you have a fitness tracker in a drawer at home? I know I do. Outside of the hard core self trackers, I think we have yet to find a mHealth application with true stickiness beyond the initial experience.

Employer mHealth – Far too many people discount the potential of the employer mHealth market. It’s a shifting market as more and more employers get out of healthcare, but it’s still a huge area of opportunity. The beauty of this market is that employers have a direct financial reason to want to keep their employees healthy. Not only does it reduce their costs to pay for healthcare, but avoiding employee sick days translates to increased office productivity.

The big challenge with employer mHealth is proving that you can reduce their healthcare costs and avoid employee sick days. Plus, even if you can produce a study with these results, it can often be a long and difficult sale to these large organizations. Far too often the person who controls the purse strings is far removed from the person doing their employee wellness program. Bringing those two together is not a simple task.

Enterprise mHealth – I define this part of the market the hospital and doctor focused mHealth applications. In many cases it’s applying mobile to existing technology, but it can also be selling a new mHealth application to doctors and hospitals. The great part of this technology is that we all know that healthcare is heading this direction. Doctors and their patients are very mobile and want these applications. This move is inevitable.

The problem with this market is that doctors and hospitals are so distracted that getting their attention is a herculean task. It’s incredibly hard for a doctor to see what is real and what is myth when it comes to all these new mobile applications. One thing doctors won’t do is risk their reputation. This is why I believe many doctors are slow to adopt mobile health applications. They don’t want to risk making a bad choice and hurting their reputation. We need a better way for doctors to discover what’s really valuable for them in the mHealth world.

March 26, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Google Watch (Officially Android Wear) Announced

The big news in the wearable world this week was the announcement of the Google Watch that’s being called Android Wear. There are a lot of nuances to their product like any announcement. For example, Google is doing like Android and working with a lot of other hardware manufacturers. Like most smart watches, the connection to your cell phone is key. Check out this video to see a preview of Android Wear:

One of the key differentiators I’ve seen between this and other smart watches is the integration with Google Now. If you have an Android phone, you’re likely familiar with Google Now. It provides a smart set of notifications that only Android can provide since it knows a lot about you through all the various Google Apps like Google Calendar.

The announcement offers one healthcare angle:

The ability to better monitor your health and fitness. Hit your exercise goals with reminders and fitness summaries from Android Wear. Your favorite fitness apps can give you real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.

You’ll see that they don’t mention any built in fitness options. Instead, they’re just tapping into your existing wearables. We’ll see if that’s a smart strategy or not.

What do you think of the Android Wear?

March 19, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Mobile Health Future Infographic

Always fun to see an infographic with interesting data. Much of this data wasn’t new, but the stat that stood out to me was 247 million Americans have downloaded a health app. That’s a lot of people involved in mobile health. Although, I bet they were pretty broad with what they considered a mobile health app.
Mobile Health Future Infographic

March 12, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Wearable Tech and Form Factor

This tweet really got my juices flowing as I consider the movement with wearable tech and the various form factors we see hitting the mobile health world.

I love when someone immediately discounts a form factor as something that people won’t use. You have to remember that their response is just one data point. There could be an entire customer segment that will have no problem with or may even prefer that form factor.

I think we have to remember that we’re still in the very early stages of figuring out which mobile health form factors are going to become most popular. What’s not going to change is the impact of having an always on, always connected device attached to a variety of sensors. This is the future of mobile health regardless of the various form factors.

March 5, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.