Docs critical to wearables success

They are the ones who will know what to do with the data
By Eric Wicklund
02:41 PM

As the "race to the wrist" intensifies and more and more smartwatches and fitness bands enter the market, one has to wonder who stands a better chance for success: the device that caters to the user or one that caters to the doctor?

In all likelihood, the percentage of the population that is really, truly interested in collecting biometric data – the so-called quantified-selfers – isn't going to increase by any great margin. You'll always have the super-healthy fitness fanatics, but they won't outnumber the average consumer, no matter how stylish that watch or bracelet looks or how cool it displays your heart rate and blood sugar. 

There are sure to be wearables on display at the upcoming mHealth Summit 2014 in December and the data they collect is going to be much more valuable to the doctor, the nurse, the public health worker or the health and wellness advocate (whatever they'll be called in the future). After all, they're the ones who are going to know what to do with the information, and how to use it in such a way that it holds value to the consumer.

That's the plan, at least.

The one enduring fallacy in consumer-centered mHealth right now is that a device's success in the market comes down to the whims of the wearer. That's only half the battle. If that device isn't collecting information that a healthcare provider wants or needs, and if it isn't providing an easy means of connecting with that provider and sending that information, all it's going to end up being is a fancy – and expensive – watch or bracelet.

Too many of these devices flooding the market aren't taking that provider connection seriously. They're expecting the user to find a way to bring his or her doctor, nurse or health coach into the loop, and expecting the healthcare provider to be more than happy to go that extra mile to get this information. This is the workflow intrusion that we've all been warned about.

Most healthcare providers would agree – they don't want to be inundated with all that extra information coming in from wearables. If it's of value to the healthcare of the user – their patient – then yes, but it had better be coming into their EHR or in some fashion that is easy to see, work with and act on. It would then be up to them to turn that data around and, in so doing, make it of value to the user.

Take a look at the wearable devices on display or being discussed at this year's mHealth Summit. Chances are each one is closely tied to a clinician-friendly platform, or ready to prove their ease and value to clinicians.

That's the market they want to please.

The mHealth Summit runs from Dec. 7-11 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.


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