Anywhere Health

When Numbers Know You Better – Making Wearables Work For Your Brand

Recently I read an article published on May 9 in the Washington Post on the topic “Spearheaded by the flood of wearable devices, a movement to quantify consumer lifestyles is evolving into big business….”

In the article, Larry Smarr compares the way he treats his body with how people monitor and maintain their cars: “We know exactly how much gas we have, the engine temperature, how fast we are going. What I’m doing is creating a dashboard for my body.”

Larry tracks 150 different parameters about himself and has been doing it for the past 10 years—a remarkable effort in itself. With the large amount of data he collected, he was able to identify key metrics that were not in the normal range and was able to diagnose that he had Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel disease.

However, if quantified consumer lifestyles are truly to evolve into big business, there are some important issues that need to be addressed. In working with some of the nation’s largest healthcare providers, consistent issues continue to emerge on the long-term impact of wearables on the overall healthcare ecosystem. For me personally,

1). Data security
All the data from these wearable devices need to be secure, they need to be transmitted in a secure fashion. The cloud infrastructure that stores the data needs to be secure. We need the vendors to publish a security audit of their infrastructure to build my confidence.

2). Access to my information
I own my health information. I want to make sure that nobody gets my information without my permission. I want to have the ability to selectively share the information with whom I choose, when I choose it, and where I choose to share.

a)    Caregiver access
I want to provide permission to view all the data or part of the data to my healthcare caregiver (doctor, nurse).

b)    Temporary time-based access
I may potentially give permission to view my data to a healthcare provider like a home health helper or my discharge nurse for a period of time and then revoke access.

c)    Location-based access
I may want to provide data to the nurse or others in the doctor’s office but only when I am in the doctor’s office and not elsewhere.

3). Dashboards
Currently we are inundated with data. My Fitbit gives me steps and activity count, and my calorie burn by day; my BASIS watch give me heart rate and skin temperature in addition to steps; my Apple watch also lets me know my heart rate and whether I exercised or not. None of this data is correlated. Data in itself is not insightful. Trend charts are useful but need to be correlated between these different data sets.

4). Analytics
The analytics available currently are very rudimentary. We need to have core set of analytical algorithms that one can download to self-analyze our data against known clinical patterns.

5).  Integration with electronic medical records.
It is really important that the quantified information is integrated with my healthcare providers’ systems so that the information is part of my overall electronic medical record. This will enable me to have a longitudinal view of my patient record.

The push to quantify customer lifestyles is here and now. Even President Obama is wearing a new Fitbit Surge—which monitors heart rate, sleep, and location—as a March photograph revealed. Quantified data can be an essential tool for healthcare transformation, but consumers will demand more from the service providers to help them make sense out of this deluge of information before it becomes big business.


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Nagaraja Srivatsan
Nagaraja Srivatsan is Senior Vice President, Venture partner, Cognizant a leading provider of information technology, business consulting, enterprise applications and business process services.

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