Consumer health technology offers one of the clearest benefits of the digital health revolution. It enables anyone to become a more active participant in their own health and well-being journey.
It is now common practice to track your movements in real time. And it is also now becoming a reality to go beyond this and start to measure physiological activity, such as monitoring blood sugar levels, and reporting this information into a mobile app.
Such information can then be directly fed into a measurement and collection platform used by your doctor or GP.
Firstly, innovation in communication, data, diagnosis, and medicine is creating the technology that Health Tech startups, pharmaceuticals and healthcare providers can leverage to create new and exciting products and services.
Secondly, wearable technologies, gadgets and apps, which all form a part of the consumer health technology market, have sparked the public’s imagination and opened up the way for tracking health, as well as fitness.
This is particularly marked in the US , where over 20% of the population own a wearable fitness tracker.
This increase in technology and the growing consumer appetite has already led the global healthcare industry to boom. Last year, the wearables devices market earned revenues of US$5.1 billion and the forecast for 2020 is set at US$18.9 billion.
Digging into consumer appetite for digital health products
Behavioral changes to the public’s perception of their own health has also been changing. People are more aware of their own health and the need to be proactive: 39% of consumers try to lose weight by exercising, but 1 in 5 of those claim a smartphone is too bulky to use during workout, meaning a gap in the market has emerged that consumer health technology can fill.
Millennial, Gen Y, and even baby boomer generations are more technologically savvy, and new gear in a new market is bound to attract attention: research from Mintel found that 19% of Americans say they are likely to buy the latest technology, with 18-34 year olds representing the largest proportion of 28% confirming this trend.
As well as being tech-conscious, people also now demand access to their personal health information more and more, and want to be able to quickly and securely share these health records with other providers.
Entrepreneurs and health practitioners are also pushing for this, in part due to the threat of an ageing population, challenging an already stretched healthcare system and its resources.
It’s this combination of factors that has led to an exciting moment in consumer health technology.
And nowhere is feeling this optimism like California.
Between 2014-15, 39 deals worth $836m in VC investments were made in the health devices category, for comparison,the UK saw 3 deals worth $46m during the same period.
Boston, New York and other hubs are enjoying the health boom too, so from my personal perspective, here are some of the more exciting products and consumer services that should demand attention.
1. Proteus Digital Health
All of us most likely have loved ones who are on a daily regime of pills that can be a difficult to maintain – I’m thinking aging grandparents, or forgetful fathers in my case!
The product Proteus has created however goes some way in addressing any concerns about tablet use. It has created and designed the Helius, a consumable pill to keep track of your vital health information.
The information discovered by the pill is recorded in real-time to the Helius companion app, which in turn informs a doctor if the person is taking their prescribed medicines at the correct times, and how a patient is responding to their therapies.
If something were to go wrong, the doctor’s tracking service alerts the patient to check up on them.
The welfare of the patient is of the utmost concern for practitioners, and products like Helius will change the way they care for that relationship – Helius users will also have access to health information that will help them get back to a better way of living.
Helius promises to increase patient engagement in their own recovery, optimize therapies by improving doctor’s access to data, and therefore improve the outcomes of treatments.
As someone who has a close family member with Type 1 Diabetes, Dexcom, which offers condition-specific monitor for diabetes sufferers, is hugely exciting.
The company offers continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products and tools that can be tracked remotely via a compatible smart device app, both day and night.
The app interface provides clear references of the highs and lows of somebody’s glucose levels, rather than just providing a number reading as previous diabetes trackers provide. The information feeds into Dexcom CLARITY, which is a cloud-based reporting system that allows a patient and healthcare professional to access and track the glucose data, quickly identifying critical glucose patterns.
The three-part CGM system – a glucose sensor, a transmitter, and a small receiver display – is the latest product from the brand, which has been transforming diabetes care and management since it’s inception in 1999.
Mimo offers parents like me the chance to create a connected nursery – how I wish that this had been available for my first child! And I’m not the only one as the company recently raised US$3.3 million in funding to target a growing millennial parent market.
The product is a technology-enabled onesie, which can track a baby’s’ breathing, body movements, sleep patterns and quality, transmitting that information to a smartphone app throughout the night.
Parents can look over 10 days worth of data to see whether they need to change their child’s bedtime routine, feeding time, or sleeping position.
The sensor-technology is the first product to provide alerts and nightly reports on a baby’s sleep, but one of its core aims to ensure that new parents can sleep with ease as well, acknowledging that a data-driven insights into their child’s sleeping pattern is as accurate as it can be.
As the we begin to see the merit of data-driven information, and expect it throughout our day-to-day lives, consumer health technology will continue to grow and innovate how we measure, view, respond to, and ultimately improve our health and well-being.
I’m hugely excited about how the Health Tech industry is going to transform people’s lives both now and in the future.