Is it surprising that consumers, instead of the healthcare industry, are driving the adoption of mobile healthcare technologies and devices? In the past few months, three transactions have been announced related to mobile healthcare; all of which were consumer-focused companies.
- In March, Fitbit announced it had raised over $30 million at a valuation of over $300 million. [source: TechCrunch]
- In April, Jawbone announced it had acquired BodyMedia. The transaction was reportedly valued at $110 million according to the New York Times’ technology blog, Bits.
- Also in April, Health Reviser announced it had acquired FitPal, a developer of mobile fitness apps.
These companies are proving that consumers are willing to pay for technologies that help them lead healthier lifestyles. Yet these consumers are a small population – the quantified-selfers and fitness addicts, those who are already living healthy lifestyles.
Unfortunately, paying out-of-pocket for these types of solutions isn’t common for those consumers who need them most. Consumers with chronic health conditions are generating the vast majority of healthcare costs in the United States and need to be nudged toward healthier behaviors.
- How can the healthcare industry increase consumer adoption among this population?
- Is reimbursement the answer?
- Is it simply increased consumer awareness?
Health plans are still seeking proof points that link physical activity monitoring to wellness as a catalyst for lowering costs. In January, BodyMedia (now part of Jawbone) announced a pilot program with Cigna, which will begin studying whether its fitness tracker device in conjunction with Cigna’s health coaches can help lower the risk of diabetes. The pilot will be a randomized control study and include four of Cigna’s employer clients, representing 1,600 workers at risk for or with diabetes.
Pharma companies are offering other approaches through sensor technologies and adherence reminders to establish more direct connections with consumers (through doctors) by using sensor and tracking technologies.
We’re watching closely as programs focused on chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma drive broader adoption of connected health solutions, but other macro-economic drivers are part of the equation too.
Next week in San Diego, we’ll share the stage at the WLSA Convergence Summit with 12 connected health innovators who we’ve recently recognized as finalists for our 2012 TripleTree iAward. At TripleTree, we view connected health solutions as key catalysts for improving clinical and operational workflows, as well as consumer engagement to support the success of initiatives like those at Cigna.
2013 TripleTree iAward Finalists
Let us know what you think.