Feb7

The Age of Wearable Health Technology Is Upon Us

5240666It used to be that technology that conforms to the human body and seamlessly integrates into your environment was stuff of science fiction movies. But if we’ve learned anything over the past 10 years, we know that science fiction is rapidly become science-fact. If you wanted to see what the near future held, all you had to do was tune in to the numerous news feeds covering the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 7–10. If there was one trend that seemed to be on every manufacturer’s mind, it was wearable health technology. In fact, CES expanded exhibitor floor space by 40% just for digital health and fitness exhibitors, many of whom were showcasing wearable personal devices.

CES is known as an event where electronics manufacturers like Samsung preview the mainstream consumer electronics that will drive the holiday shopping season. It’s the place where the industry goes to see everything from the latest web-connected refrigerators to the latest mobile chips. And the news from this past CES convention was no different. In the past, consumer electronics companies have been focused on portable, mobile technologies. With the mainstream adoption of smartphones and tablets, consumer electronics companies have continuously tried to innovate by going smaller. It was this evolution from compact, mobile personal technology to wearable technology that was on full display this year at CES. There were smart watches, smart jewelry, and smart glasses, and even mention of integrating technology into fabrics. There was a visible trend toward fashionable, smart, wearable health devices. The core technologies and functionality in many of the wearable gadgets on display were fairly similar, mostly informational apps and health and fitness monitoring, but it was the emphasis on style and technology as an accessory which spoke to how health technology will be more seamlessly integrated into everyone’s everyday life.

After years as a novelty, in 2013 wearable health tech began gaining wider adoption. From primetime TV commercials for the Samsung Galaxy Gear—a watch reminiscent of Dick Tracy’s clunky walkie-talkie wristwatch—to coverage of the debut of Google Glass on local news channels, wearable technology was noticeably all over news and pop culture. You couldn’t take a ride on the New York City subway without seeing at least 5 people with some kind of fitness tracker on their wrist or hip. And those who didn’t have a dedicated tracker likely had some kind of fitness or health-focused app installed on their smartphone. In fact, wearable tech adoption grew from 3% in 2012 to 13% 2013, and that growth has been fueled by growing consumer interest in fitness and personal health monitoring and tracking. As consumers have increasingly begun to take control of their own health, adoption of wearable devices to help them do so has grown. Gartner predicts that the fitness and personal health monitoring trend will grow to a $1.6-billion industry in 2014 and to $5 billion by 2016. As we saw at CES, consumer electronics manufacturers are doing their part to give the trend momentum by making the wearable devices easy to use, fashionable, and less pricey, hoping to appeal to a much wider consumer base. And it’s not just the consumers who will see the benefits of devices that are easier to have and use. New opportunities will continue to arise for healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies to play a direct role in wellness and health behaviors through these wearables. As open software standards become more prevalent across devices, it’ll be easier for healthcare marketers to customize programming to suit clients’ needs and integrate wearables into a more personalized patient experience. Here at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, we’ve already begun to explore how this new channel for engagement can be used toward patient education and adherence. Next Christmas, don’t be surprised if your grandparents or teens ask Santa for a fashionable wearable health device.

What about you? Do you currently own a wearable personal health or fitness device? How has this affected how you manage your and your family’s health?

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Jan18

Consumer Electronics Show 2013 (4 of 4): The Car as a Platform

Connected-CarThis year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has seen the maturation of a relatively new category of hardware and software integration: the connected car. Our cars are quickly becoming platforms the same way our computers and tablets are.

Smartphones have introduced us to “app culture.” We are quickly adjusting to including these small tools into our daily lives. We tweet, chat, take photos, share experiences, look up information, journal our health, and photograph and deposit checks.

For the last few years Ford, BMW, and Toyota have been working on integrated solutions that bring app technology to our car’s console. These systems, often referred to as “embedded,” are bridging our connected digital world with the somewhat sequestered automotive one.

What does a connected car do for a driver? The more straightforward applications include: entertainment from your cloud-based library and streaming services, and location-based services that present your favorite foods at key times or special coupon offers as you run your weekly errands. These are low-hanging fruit for app developers.

The application program interfaces (APIs) released at this year’s CES offer developers access to systems within the car: environmental conditions, braking and acceleration information, climate control status. All of these are useful information if we are keeping our drivers and their passengers safe. Inconsistent acceleration and braking may be signs of an alertness issue or, if a patient is recovering from cardiac complications, signs of a heart attack.

For a diabetic patient or family member, access to blood sugar status can help families remain proactive in their health. With an API like the one that Ford announced for their SYNC software, patients using an insulin pump can be alerted to changes without being distracted from their driving. This same technology can help monitor time behind the wheel without stopping and encourage an appropriate break from a long road trip.

Patients who have implanted defibrillators can also benefit from communication between the car and patient. In the event that such a device is triggered, the car can be brought to a stop or perhaps even “driven” to safety.

The “Internet of things” has become the vernacular for devices, like our cars, that communicate with the devices around them. Automotive manufacturers that are releasing their APIs are not only ahead of the curve, but are also extending their value to consumers and the public at large.

What it means to pharma

As devices like our phones and cars become aware of one another and their owners, there will be an increasing focus on how our personal behavior can be used to improve our lives. Healthcare (and personal health) is quickly becoming the focus of many new innovations. Our calories are being counted, our walks cached and calculated. All of this data can now be used to create profiles and predict outcomes that result from good and bad behaviors.

Pharma will have a difficult time accessing people’s personal data, but being able to help physicians and healthcare professionals interpret and find insight from this data will be an easy pathway to improved wellness and superior outcomes.

Keep an eye out for the first round of apps and programs that begin to combine data using APIs and help tailor services to those healthy and ill. Sooner than later, our devices and electronics will be advising us to have a hot cup of soup to ward off the sniffles.

Next steps

There is no reason to sit idly by while the revolution of connectivity happens at CES and in the coming year. The benefit to APIs is the creation of an accessible platform developers can leverage to quickly and easily get projects off the ground and into market.

Reach out to your agency, internal teams, and technical experts and see what they’re excited about. Challenge these teams to think about and build solutions that can work with your patients and customers. We have an entire team of experts who are excited to share their ideas and vision with you and your entire team.

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Jan18

Consumer Electronics Show 2013 (3 of 4): What the Slew of New Tablets and eReaders Means for Pharma

Tablets-and-eReadersAs the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) ramped up, I’d sneak peeks on my iPhone to get the latest news. During the show, I’d read longer articles and reviews on my iPad. At home, I flopped on the couch and immersed myself on the iPad Mini.

So, yeah, three things: First, I am an Apple fanboy. Second, I love my tablets. Third, I also have a Kindle Paperwhite.

CES 2013 featured a flurry of new tablets and ereaders. At least some of the companies competing in this space are smart (not all of them), but all of them recognize the inevitable future of tablets and ereaders.

A year ago, I would have shared a statistic that validated the rise of ereaders and tablets. It would have justified the price or proved that more people were buying these things. This year, few people doubt that ereaders will become the medium of choice for many, if not most, of the nation. From the Kindle to the Nook to the iPad to the Galaxy, digital book readers are getting less expensive and more powerful. Sales of ebooks and e-magazines are booming.

What it means for pharma

A few years ago, the pharma industry was trying to understand what social media meant for healthcare communications. We struggled with blog monitoring, social media communities, and even open message boards. The learnings from those early explorations have defined much of what we do today.

Before that, it was the web. We tried to use this exploding channel for patient, caregiver, and healthcare professional communications. Again, trial and error taught us what works, what doesn’t, and how far we could push the envelope. It was a learning process, but we got there together (even if sometimes we were competing with each other).

Now many clients are taking a digital-first approach to marketing and communications. They understand that almost all of their targets have access to the web.

But the rise of ereaders and tablets has created a new challenge for our industry. We’re advocating—and in certain cases pioneering—responsive-design strategies. Clients recognize the value (and savings) of creating channel-agnostic content that adapts to devices, platforms, and channels. It just makes sense.

If you’re a brand already using responsive design, then the influx of shiny new mobile devices, tablets, and ereaders announced at CES simply means you need to test on new platforms. If you’ve only designed for the desktop, well then it probably means that your message and design will be breaking on even more platforms. Not good.

What to do next

In a few weeks, the dust will settle from CES 2013. We’ll have a better idea of which mobile devices will actually ship and which were just vaporware and prototypes. You’ll want to have at least two or three of the most promising, buzzed-about devices that actually ship.

Test your sites on all of these new platforms. Review how your message displays on these new screens. If your patients, caregivers, and doctors are using them to read your message, you need to know what their experience is like. Hold the device and pretend to be your target user.

If you’re not using a content strategy that includes responsive design, you should meet with your team to discuss your options. If you are, congratulations—now go test your messages on these new devices.

If you are a client (or want to be), give us a call to learn about the newest devices as they become available. We get most of these new devices, and we can show you how we build and test your sites. Or you can come by to play with them yourself.

Our industry can no longer be multiple years behind popular technology and new devices. Our target users include patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals…and many of them are already using this new technology. If you care about your message reaching your target user, then you need to know exactly what they will see when it reaches them.

Patient-compliance and education programs shifted to the web years ago. Unfortunately, those experiences don’t always deliver the right experience on a tablet or smartphone. If your patients and caregivers use tablets already, then you should be building experiences that reflect this (not so new) channel.

From the diabetic with dietary needs to the parent of an epileptic child, mobile health tools can be essential to prescription compliance. Pill-plus programs must deliver an excellent experience that integrates into the lives of patients, since tablets and smartphones are becoming an extension of everyone’s lives. The first step is recognizing that this technology is here to stay.

CES 2013 is a good excuse to bring up the topic of content strategy and responsive design to your internal stakeholders and agency partners. Schedule a meeting to get the conversation started.

It’s timely, relevant, and (if you think about it) will probably be received on a tablet device or smartphone.

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Jan18

Consumer Electronics Show 2013 (2 of 4): Digital Healthcare Goes from Geek to Chic

HAPIforkDigital healthcare has finally gone mainstream, as evidenced by the speaker presentations and products that created a buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week in Las Vegas. Long known as a tech geek paradise, CES showcases the latest and greatest in cutting-edge consumer electronics.

A keynote presentation, given by Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, focused on the benefit that the use of IT in healthcare can bring to people worldwide. “…[W]hat makes this a transformational moment is the barriers to innovation in the industry are coming down,” he said.

Illustrating that point, the competition in the health tech products field is being ignited by a convergence of more-affordable sensor technology and heightened consumer demand driven by increasing healthcare costs. Additionally, the wearable device market is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2014, with a rapid growth in sensors, components, and system integration, according to a report published last fall by Juniper Research.

Healthcare was embedded into CES with the second annual Digital Health Summit, featuring such high-profile speakers as Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Reed Tuckson, and Dr. Otis Brawley. With such nationally recognized thought leaders participating in CES, the message of technology in healthcare was elevated even further. Similarly, the super session was headlined by Arianna Huffington and Deepak Chopra, who discussed devices that let us monitor everything from our stress levels to genetic sequences.

But the real stars of CES were the many health-related products that were launched. Among the products was an array of wristbands, belts, and other sensor-enabled wearable devices to monitor one’s lifestyle and fitness level. In the FitnessTech zone, more than 220 companies were on display, a 25% increase over last year. Below are the top five health-related products of the show.

Buzzworthy products

What better way to get people interested in taking care of their health than leveraging the ubiquitous smartphone that most people can’t seem to live without? Using smartphones and tablets, apps can now process personal healthcare data in real time, providing feedback and instant gratification that will spur users to stay on the right track.

The Fitbit Flex is a wristband that tracks activity and sleep patterns and syncs with a smartphone app to show you how active your lifestyle is. It syncs with an Android (Samsung Galaxy S III or Note II) device or iPhone via Bluetooth and uploads the data to an app as well as to an online profile. The band can measure how many steps you’ve taken, calories burned, and quality and amount of sleep. Four LED lights on the band show you how far along you are toward meeting that day’s goals. It will also gently buzz to wake you in the morning.

The biometric device Spree measures your temperature, tracks your movement, and monitors your heart rate. The device then streams that information to an iOS or Android app you can use to help you enhance your body’s performance. This information, along with data on distance traveled, speed, time, and calories burned, is then transformed into graphs to track progress.

Taking it one step further, GeoPalz incorporated gamification into getting fit, appealing to the younger generation. The ibitz PowerKey for kids connects to any Bluetooth-ready smartphone and uses a pedometer to track activity. This physical activity is then converted into “keys,” which unlock rewards, such as games, apps, shows, and custom prizes. There’s also an in-app GeoBotz character, which needs healthy food, exercise, and plenty of water to stay fit, mirroring the child’s health.

In addition to smartphone-leveraged devices, stand-alone electronic health-related gadgets also burst onto the scene.

Some of the biggest buzz in digital healthcare out of CES surrounded the HAPIfork, an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights when you are eating too fast.  The data that it collects is uploaded via USB to an online dashboard to track your progress. The HAPIfork also comes with the HAPILABS app plus a coaching program to help improve your eating behavior.

In a much larger form factor, HealthSpot launched a cutting-edge telehealth system that provides high-quality medical diagnostic technology to patients anytime, anywhere. HealthSpot Station is a walk-in kiosk that will be located in everyday locations like pharmacies and grocery stores for patient diagnosis and medical treatment. Not only was this product launched at CES—showcasing the future of telemedicine—the healthcare kiosk was hand-picked by CEA (the organizing association for CES) for a premium location between two of the main exhibit halls. That location maximized foot traffic by the kiosk and increased the chatter surrounding digital in healthcare.

Looking to the future

With the decreasing costs of sensors and increasing interest in convenient ways to stay healthy, the digital healthcare market is sure to skyrocket in the future. Super-cool apps and wearable devices will continue to become daily staples in our lives. Could stillsuits be far behind?

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Jan18

Consumer Electronics Show 2013 (1of 4): Born Mobile

Born-MobileThis year, for the first time ever, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was kicked off with a keynote from a mobile company. Dr. Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, set the tone for CES with his presentation entitled Born Mobile (full video source: http://www.qualcomm.com/ces). Here are some highlights on what he had to say and what it means for pharma.

We can all look at the Gartner studies and realize there were nearly 430 million mobile devices (source: http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=2237315) sold in just the third quarter of 2012 and easily infer that mobile is quickly becoming the center of everything we do. But what does that really mean?

Today, 84% of people worldwide say they can’t go a day without their mobile device. Born Mobile recognizes that we live in a world where we can’t remember, or never knew, what it means to not be connected.

In developing countries, for example, the first computer you’ll ever own is likely to be a smartphone.  Simply because of the affordability, connectivity now exists where there was none. The power of this connectivity is breaking barriers and opening up new possibilities where just a decade ago industries did not exist, and it’s transforming healthcare.

Mobile-enabled telemedicine and e-health was a dream just a decade ago. Today we can leverage the power of our mobile-connected world to improve the healthcare of people everywhere, particularly in developing countries. But don’t take my word for it. In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Today the technology most accessible to the poor and disenfranchised is the mobile phone. If we want a vehicle for reaching the underserved with interventions from health and other sectors of the economy, the mobile phone is the technology of choice. Mobile is going to have a transformative impact on the public health here and in Africa, and all around the world.”

To help make this dream a reality, Qualcomm has established a vision to actually create the fictional tricorder diagnostic tool. Yes, you read that right—a tool like the one found in Star Trek which will put the power of personalized health in your pocket. They’ve teamed up with the X Prize Foundation to offer $10 million to an innovative team that can really do it.

But wait, there’s more. A lot more. Mobile offers us a level of engagement we never got with the desktop computer. There’s GPS, second screen home integration, texting, video chatting, browsing the Internet, getting directions, checking email, and yes, even talking. All that, and you can take it with you when you go.

Taken together, Dr. Jacobs and Qualcomm have dubbed these features our digital “sixth sense.” We’re used to our vehicle navigators or smartphones giving us real-time traffic ahead and rerouting, or  receiving a Foursquare message noting when there is a friend in a nearby coffee shop, or hearing a chime and buzz in your pocket when you get a text or email. If we can do that, why not pull in information from sensors you wear, or even ones inside you? Tie that into sophisticated systems like a portable device Israeli doctors have developed for detecting strokes, and you don’t just extend your senses to the world around you, you know what’s going on inside you as well. Healthcare just got a lot more personal.

Pushing the limits of this is Gimbal, a context-awareness platform for mobile devices which consolidates the features of our digital “sixth sense” in the form of geo-fencing, image recognition, and audio recognition. Through Gimbal we can personalize user experiences and deliver contextually appropriate messaging when and where mobile users need it most.

The timing couldn’t be better. As EHR/EMR incentives drive health conversations toward wellness, treatment is becoming not just a pill, but a lifestyle. Mobile technologies like Gimbal are at the forefront of transforming the way we evaluate outcomes and treat chronic illnesses by merging the real word with the virtual world.

This year at CES, smartphones were at the center of everything we do.  Ford, for example, announced a developer program to integrate apps into their vehicles and Audi announced the first fully integrated 4g LTE automobile. They might feel like small steps to some, but the Internet of things is coming (lights, ac, security, cars, medical monitoring devices) and mobile is the keystone that makes it all possible.

With devices at the center of our digital life, the aforementioned push for patient-centric, outcomes-driven care can become a reality. Points of care are integrating into our life more frequently than just a visit to the doctor’s office. The rise of “swivel apps” (apps healthcare providers use to illustrate points and communicate with patients) and “prescription apps” (apps recommended to the patient by the doctor and even covered by insurance in some cases) are a solid indication how far we can take this. Have a smartphone? Take this app and text me in the morning.

What you read here is just the beginning. So much happened at CES that will literally set the tone for the rest of the year and beyond.

Snapdragon 800, Qualcomm’s new flagship mobile chip, boasts speeds of 2.3 GHz per core in a four-core processor. That’s better than a lot of laptops, enabling speeds demanded by most gamers with half the power of previous processors. Not sure what that means? It means Ultra HD video that provides four times better resolution than the pixels demanded by HD video for not just display, but for capture and send as well.

In healthcare that’s HUGE. Sure, YouTube and Netflix videos are huge, but consider a doctor who specializes in a treatment needed by a patient 10, 100, 1000 or even 10,000 miles away. How about a panel of doctors, all examining the patient with the clarity of Ultra HD?

Combine that with apps like the one being developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, which can pick up subtle changes in skin color by scanning blood vessels. Using a mobile device you can measure heart rate, heart rhythm, and respiration rate. Combine that with an external pulse oximeter and a mobile camera scan of the patient’s index finger which will yield blood oxygen saturation in just a minute. As if that’s not enough, after all the data is collected, the app will alert you if the heartbeat is irregular, indicating a possible atrial fibrillation.

Born Mobile isn’t a new generation of trendy kids with the latest devices. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s the businessman who’s on the go, it’s the smartbooks in the classrooms, the grandparent who video-chats with the grandkids. Born Mobile is the underserved gaining new access to healthcare and connectivity where there was none and the doctors who treat those patients from across the world without ever leaving their offices. It’s everyone who buys the 1.2 billion smart devices that will be bought next year and the 5 billion that will be sold by 2016. It’s you. It’s me. It’s the future of healthcare.

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