Wearables, IoT, and the Digital Health Sector

The future of digital health is a very exciting prospect, with the evolution of technology and the world of IoT (Internet of Things), there is a huge opportunity within this sector that is still largely untapped.

This article talks about some of these possibilities, and the investment in funding digital health startups. In the US between 2010 and 2014 these investments quadrupled, reaching $3.5 billion. The main aim, ‘to bring healthcare into the modern age’.

Withings is a prominent company focused on the innovation, technology and design of smart products and apps that seamlessly fit into any lifestyle to track and better manage long term health. Some of their products include smart scales, thermometers, activity sleep monitors, the Pulse, and even home security to assist with peace of mind.

While all of these products will help with smart health monitoring, we’re also interested in what else the information collected can be used for. One such area is the effect it can have on Health Insurance. Every individual is different, and if the means are there then it makes sense to have a plan and payments that are tailored to you. This is exactly what Withings and AXA teamed up to do. Back in 2014, the two announced a partnership which would offer AXA customers a free Pulse, and the possibility of receiving discounts off their insurance if they walked between 7,000 and 10,000 steps a day.

This is simple idea; a small start but one that has to potential to expand into something quite remarkable – and perhaps even motivate their customers to live a healthier lifestyle with the promise of immediate rewards.

In April this year, Nokia announced they were acquiring Withings, with an aim to extend their health technology business. This is an exciting move, as Nokia will be strengthening their position within the Internet of Things. For them, buying Withings is not just about the health trackers, scales and other technology aimed at the consumers, but about connecting them and running a wider array of cloud-based services. This is definitely a merge to keep an eye on, with Nokia’s prominent past and Withings forward thinking, it will be interesting to see if they continue to evolve with the digital healthcare system, or if they forge ahead and lead the way.

There certainly is going to be a lot of competition out there, with the likes of tech giant Apple who are set to release their second Apple Watch in September 2016, which is surely poised for some interesting pairings. IBM has already utilised this wearable as part of an employee health plan. IBM will offer employees the opportunity to receive a free, or discounted, Apple Watch as part of their ‘commit to health’ initiative under their health insurance plans for employees. This will now be offered alongside the FitBit, in a bid to encourage employees to exercise and monitor step count to accumulate points which can be redeemed for merchandise.

Many similar stories are out there, however they are still largely offered as corporation deals for employees. Although as studies have shown, this is an incentive which works. It is also something that regular consumers would certainly be interested in, and are more than happy to trade some personal information, if it means they gain monetary rewards.

I’d been keen to try it out, would you?