Nike’s recent decision to open up it’s Fuel Band API to developers throws up some fascinating opportunities for Â healthcare apps to break into the mainstream. Currently available in the US, Nike’s Fuel Band measures an individual’s daily activity and produces a score which can be shared through various social networks. But by allowing the data to be made available raises the possibility of integrating it with healthcare and insurance policy providers.
The provision of healthcare by the UK government is estimated at 8% of GDP, which roughly equates toÂ GBP100 billion. This has led toÂ successive UK governments looking to cut the cost of the NHS, whilst on the other be seen not to excessively punish the tobacco and drinks industries through taxation. Preventative healthcare through apps that harnesses an individual’s data could feasibly reduce that cost. However persuading enough people to adopt the use of such health apps means it is highly unlikely to have an impact on reducing the overall cost of health care any time soon.
The ability to overcome the privacy concerns of individuals is key to the adoption of health apps going forward, whether it’s incentivising the consumers with rewards or providing a clear benefit. The NHS Quit Smoking App, successfully applied the idea of loss aversion to demonstrate how much money a user saves by not smoking.
Providing a suitable incentive for consumers to opt into a service in exchange for their data is nothing new. For some time now, Google has been regarded as the top dog when it comes to a value exchange model built on data. Now we are seeing that approach applied to traditional sectors. For example insurance companies are promising cheaper car insurance for consumers in exchange for a modified blackbox being hardwired into their car, that collects data on their driving habits.
Clearly as the example above demonstrates consumers are prepared to engage in a value exchange. However privacy concerns around an individual’s health cannot be underestimated. Plugging lifestyle data into a medical care program or health service demands clear value for the consumer participating.Â I wouldn’t discount the possibility of health insurance firms becoming lifestyle providers where consumers would be able to select their rewards above and beyond cheaper insurance rates based on how active a consumer has been over a period of time.
Delivering new ways of measuring and tailoring health programs to the need of the individual is likely to be another key trend going forward. At the Google Firestarters session earlier this year there was a talk from Adil Abrar on Sidekick Studios Buddy project. The Buddy project allows for a patient’s wellbeing to be monitored remotely by their primary contact. This serves two important activities: firstly it allows a log of a patient’s mental health to be logged over time and a programme of treatment to be devised more accurately; secondly patients are reminded to attend their assessment sessions as part of the service.
What the Buddy Project illustrates is that an effective healthcare program can be provided relatively cheaply. In July 2011 OpenIDEO Â reached out to it’s online audience to crowdsource healthcare solutions to help low income income areas of Columbia. Again what’s fascinating about some of the winning concepts is enabling medical knowledge to be easily transmitted at a low cost.
As the demand for healthcare becomes ever greater, new solutions for delivering targeted programs for individual consumers that is cost effective becomes key. Future healthcare solutions will therefore need to tread a balance between a patient’s data offering targeted value with the highly sensitive concerns patient’s have around their medical data.