More than ever chronic or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose significant health risks to our populations. At the same time technology, particularly mobile technology has become prevalent in society. Smartphones and related apps are demanding more and more of our attention. A study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers found the average user checks their phone close to 150 times per day. A separate but related “Mobile Mindset Study” looks at how mobile has changed our lifestyles, behaviour and even emotions. That is, mobile has become an extension of our reality, with a large number of people constantly connected, “Nearly 60% said they don’t go an hour without checking their phone.”
While mobile has pervaded our lives, wearables still have yet to capture our full attention. The potential for wearable technology in Health and Wellness is considerable, however user retention is low. According to Rock Health, There are likely two major contributors to the attrition and rapid engagement decay rates noted in many other surveys. First, 28% of individuals are receiving wearables as a gift; and second, of those who purchase, 25% cite that they are doing so as an experiment. The implication of the second reason is that they do not set out with long-term ownership interest.” Wearable devices are currently in an “experimental” stage, as consumer awareness is high, but understanding the value of, and behaviour change centralizing around wearables has not adopted as it has in the case of mobile devices.
Health Improvement through Wearables
Wearables need to communicate their true value, which is a source of continuous, objective data. In this sense, devices have to go beyond simple monitoring and reporting functions in order to provide valuable information to the user. Analytics are one way to achieve this. Beyond machine learning algorithms, our team of data scientists have developed models unique to health improvement through small, measurable changes.
Vivametrica Founder and CEO Dr. Hu who is an orthopaedic surgeon has applied our technology to real life patient scenarios. In this case, the patient came to Dr. Hu regarding back pain. Dr. Hu asked the patient to use a wearable device and noticed the patient’s step count was 300-1200, well below the 8500 steps suggested for the patient’s age and gender. With encouragement from Dr. Hu, the patient was asked to increase his steps by 100 per day. As the patient’s steps increased, back pain decreased and surgery was avoided. Vivametrica has developed algorithms that can predict the risk of back pain based on activity, which is just one of the models we have based on wearable device data.
In order for wearable devices to have the same impact on society as mobile, they must first create value and have significant, meaningful function in the eyes of the user. Moreover, change has to be tailored to the individual; a generic 10,000 daily step-count recommendation simply won’t do.