Last week’s Fitbit Captivate 2017 conference showcased the tremendous potential of wearables for healthcare. By engaging upstream with consumers on their own terms, improved population health management becomes possible, with compliance a compelling benefit. Let’s share what we discovered…
Everyone walks everywhere in Chelsea, New York—which might explain why the zip code has the lowest obesity rate in America, and hosted the second stop on the Fitbit Captivate Conference tour. Wearables continue to enthrall even if their actual adoption remains below analyst predictions—but their future in whatever form they take looks assured, especially for health and wellness applications like the Fitbit, which for the most part started it all and seems to be in somewhat of a renaissance with a growing focus on value and outcomes in the healthcare circles.
When the conference rolled into NYC we took notice, eager to see what population health experts, mobile technologists, medical professionals, and wellness advocates had to say about the latest in wearable tech and healthcare. Our own Klick Labs is active in the space, having recently developed the game changing SymPulse app for recording and transmitting Parkinson’s tremors—so being on the lookout for the latest trends is part of our DNA.
Behavioral Modification & Data Analytics
Healthcare commercialization pros ultimately have a singular goal in mind: Create engaging experiences that change present beliefs into future behaviors. At the core is behavior modification, which, when translated to motivating physical activity, is the specialty of Dr. Ken Resnicow, Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan, who presented on “The Roles of Guilt, Pressure, Meaning, and Money.”
How people become physically active, and how best to keep them motivated? To answer these questions, his talk focused on the difference between quality and quantity motivation, and how to create “sticky” motivation. He also discussed several effective types of interventions, and the roles of positive feedback and incentives. A repeating theme emphasized the importance of going beyond the tacit assumption that people know why.
When we extrapolate the factors behind personal motivation to the national level of population health management, the challenges of effectively conveying rationale become even more pressing. The missing link for reaching higher engagement and ultimately better health outcomes likely rests with the orchestration and deployment of wearable devices in a manner that empowers us to take informed, personalized ownership of our health.
While general treatment programs can focus on individuals with chronic conditions to extract greater engagement from those cohorts, wearables actionably mobilize the masses resulting in activated, healthier populations. Rachel Schiff, Director of Product Management from Virgin Pulse discussed this kind of individual-level data capture and outcomes generation as a stepping stone for reaching organizational level business performance and cost savings.
Data analytics is key, bridging the gap between Dr. Resnicow’s quest and the collaborative “why” amongst all health system stakeholders with vested interest in improving outcomes, including payers, providers, patients, their caregivers, and the system infrastructure itself. The trick is aggregating the discrete metrics—average steps, hours slept, sedentary time—and synthesizing them up to tell a complete and unified personal and population health story.
Rachel’s vision of wearable device data being used to construct a personalized path to wellbeing also has applications to next-gen and employee health programs. The idea of utilizing data to build a strong company culture is central to the book The Decoded Company, which highlights technology as a coach, data as a sixth sense, and an engineered ecosystem—all potentially facilitated and empowered through wearable data.
Evolution from Micro- to Macro-Engagement
Wearables and health tech innovations must be thought within the context of aligned incentives, driving genuine stakeholder engagement and behavior. Value-based care is also vital, or the underlying value-based agreements that attempt to align the goals and incentives of otherwise historically disparate provider and payer organizations. With fragmentation and inter-operability as major challenges, maybe wearables will prove to be the great unifier.
But is that enough? Where does the patient incentive (or at a broader population health level the member and health consumer) fit in? Patient/member/health consumer engagement is a critical component for achieving success in value-based agreements, but in most deals their incentives are misaligned or incomplete. As a solution, wearable tech at the personal level may actually get us closer to aligning incentives at the population health eco-system level!
At Klick Market Access, our job is to connect the dots between personal and population health for many of the largest providers and payers. Wearables are a compelling opportunity, but one of numerous clinical, communications, and technological options. Are you partnered with an expert who understands how these typically disparate specialties converge within today’s complex and ever-changing health space? Let’s talk, I’m eager to hear your needs.