Now that the big reveal from Apple has gone down, we know there have been some developments on Apple’s reported belief that they have a moral obligation to improve healthcare. There have also been some serious setbacks (read: Business Insider’s “A bunch of cool health features were cut from the Apple Watch at the last minute” details).
In the end, Apple Watch brings us a more accurate, more desirable fitness tracker and connects users to medical researchers so they can participate in clinical trials. They’ve also found a way to prompt wearers to stand more. That’s a nice start.
But even with all that Apple Watch has to offer the question remains—where are the wearables for people who need health solutions? There’s a market for it. Klick research shows that 75% of chronically ill patients would use apps to connect with doctors, and 78% are open to sharing their health data with doctors. Two thirds want apps that help remind them to take medicine.
With 294 wearable devices on the market (131 focused on fitness), there is plenty of life beyond FitBits and Jawbones. We are seeing wearables transforming into smart clothes, necklaces, and fashion statements; but however nice they look, they’re still data trackers and collectors. There appears to be little out there that can combine data collection and physician interaction with features that encourage healthy behavior changes for those who need help staying healthy or getting healthier.
What we do have, in excess, are lifestyle solutions for the already healthy. We have newer, fresher ways to log runs, track sleep, and see heart rates, but people with chronic conditions need devices that can go beyond tracking. They need devices that make data meaningful and shareable with their health providers. Within the space of heart health, there are options.
But beyond that space—where are the options? It seems we might have to wait a bit longer for those. Why?
Because healthcare is hard.
There’s a place, and clearly, a market, for solutions focused on the already motivated and healthy. But if you want to go beyond a nice-to-have lifestyle product to a must-have product that improves people’s lives and health—you have to go a few steps further. When you face healthcare challenges like HIPAA head on and pair it with a deep understanding of chronic illnesses and conditions—then you can build solutions that truly motivate and change behavior.
And isn’t that what we really need?
At last year’s Wearables+Things, Wired.com reported that despite developers being implored to “go from the children’s table to the grown-up table….embrace the FDA. Learn how HIPAA works….move away from fitness and go hardcore into health” the response was lukewarm. It seems few want to innovate in a world of clinical trials and tight regulations.
Here in the Midwest, we’re home to a biotech start-up powerhouse. There’s no reason we can’t start creating some serious wearable options for those who need it most, right here.