In December of 2011 I started using the Fitbit Ultra, a wearable wireless device, to help me watch my daily fitness (or lack of exercise).
I do not claim to be an athlete, my personal goals are to live a more active and healthy life. So this month’s blog post is all around the use of these devices.
The Fitbit Ultra is one of a few devices now on the market (refer to 3 New Fitness Gadgets).
These devices look to answer three things, in my opinion:
- A monitor for your health and activity
- Provide feedback if you ‘are exercising enough’
- Single source of ‘personal data’
I offer IT services consulting advice within the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. So I have an interest in this area. My daily routine changes, as is the case, between travel and office work – team projects (request for proposal (RFP) activity and orals presentation preparation) to new client meetings. Like any consultant or sales rep a life on the road and in the office. Not to mention finding time for this blog and added social media activity. As an early adopter of this technology I was debating between the Up from Jawbone or the Fitbit Ultra. With Jawbone having manufacturing difficulty I settled on the Fitbit Ultra. Not a bad choice in my opinion.
A monitor for your health and activity
This ‘wearable’ device is small and compact. All you need to do is to remember to wear the device as part of your daily and evening routine. The Fitbit is not waterproof nor does it contain a GPS device. I like the fact that the Fitbit can be worn while you sleep and offers you feedback on your sleeping patterns.
Are you exercising enough?
I am not an athlete yet I want to make a healthy lifestyle. The value in monitoring my daily routine is so that I can ‘change it up’ to include some form of exercise. When I’m working from home I can go for a jog or do some yoga. Of course when you’re traveling this can disrupt your routine, and I find myself to easily distracted and may forget to run or do some yoga. For the serious runners out there you may want to supplement the Fitbit with apps like RunKeeper which uses the GPS found in the iPhone to give exact distance and time recordings.
Single source of data
The biggest draw for me with the Fitbit is that you can enter daily information via your smartphone or from your laptop. The device requires that you synchronize the content of the data from the Fitbit to your account via a USB connected sensor. The Fitbit will keep up to three days worth of data. Here is a snapshot of a standard report that summarizes my activities:
The Future of Medicine?
In the latest product announcement for Nike and their Fuel device “By 2017: 170M wearable wireless health and fitness devices. Monitoring your health with mobile devices will be the next improvement in healthcare for all of us. We will see the next iterations of these devices as they get smaller and provide more connectivity via apps that can combine your personal data. I like using this device and for now it meets my health goals.
The driver for this new blog post came as a result of my recent trip to the SAP Sapphire conference in Orlando. I have an interest in technology and focus on the #mHealth (mobile health) aspects of Healthcare. It was during several discussions with key executives that you realize that few companies are prepared to handle the shift in the industry around ‘mobility’ more specifically the use of smart phones. Many IT organizations drive a strict policy around the use of smartphones. When I joined my company there was no strict policy. It is left up to the user to decide what his or her needs are and make their choice.
I previously wrote about a solution back on June 15th, 2010 entitled: Aligning Life Sciences and Healthcare IT. Part 2 A Practical Mobility Solution for Doctors and Nurses. We delivered a system that met the needs of a client for one specific problem using one form of technology. Last year this was a great example of the use of smartphones to improve the productivity and communications between nursed and doctors in providing ‘improved’ healthcare. When I reflect back on this if the client decided to change smartphone technology what would this do to the current process in place? One statistic that highlights the acceleration of smartphones is that by 2013 that there will be 6 billion devices!
In many organizations IT can be a deterrent in today’s rapidly changing world of mobility. There are a few things IT cannot change or control:
- You have a ‘fixed’ budget
- No control over changes in ‘compliance’
- No way to expect your user’s increasing expectations
Evolving Technology versus your Fixed Budget
Users are looking to manage their time by finding ways to be more productive. As the pace of smartphones increases I believe there needs to a strategy that is ‘agnostic’ to the end device (whether you use an iPhone or an Android device). I recently ‘tweeted’ the following message: “David Mosher talks about how tablets are changing #medicine http://bit.ly/jsgDF0 RT @ONHealthcare: #mobility #healthit “ New apps are being released that can greatly improve various facets of healthcare. I am convinced technology is accelerating faster than IT policies.
Another example of how technology is changing the way IT provides support to their users. Google recently announced their “Chromebook.” In short these are laptops with no applications installed on the end-user device. Everything is running off of cloud services. So how can I lower my costs and allow for security, and at the same time give the users flexibility of using technology their most comfortable with….
- There are several companies looking to offer their own “apps” store. This allows users to easily download company specific and widely used applications.
- Deploy a mobility strategy… at the Sapphire conference I’ve seen solutions that allow IT to give access to key business processes
The SAP mobility strategy may be one choice that allows IT the ability to ‘connect’ key processes and make them on any device. This also includes the relevant data that can be used to make key business decisions. As more and more workers look to collaborate the mechanism to manage all this is ‘how fast can IT push this data out’ and into the hands of their workers to make key decisions.
IT groups must now see how they can balance the enterprise with mobility to create the ‘mobile enterprise.’ Over the next few months there is a concerted effort to prove this in the market. By providing a roadmap and tool kit to help organizations set up this mobile enterprise. Some of these components are here today and others are still being developed, and to reach this potential your mobile strategy should have the following attributes:
- Device independent
- Deliver and Enterprise – ready security solution
- Provide integration to ERP/CRM
This strategy will eventually evolve to include Business Intelligence as well as governance, risk and compliance later in the year. What I will be focusing on is the ability to help Life Sciences companies fulfill this ‘mobile strategy’ through a series of investments and proof-of-concepts. As this proceeds I will offer a future blog post to cover this story.
I’ll conclude this blog post with a reference to an interesting article found in Computerworld May 23rd, 2011, Opinion: Halamka: Facing down VUCA, and doing the right thing.
The author, John Halamka, describes how IT leaders deal with ‘unpredictable demands; ever-changing technologies; and all on a fixed budget.’ These leaders must embrace VUCA and ultimately move from the left to the right. With the world exploding with data and businesses looking to compete in the new world the article pretty much sums up how to prepare yourself to meet this challenge and turn it into an opportunity for your business.
Volatility -> Vision
Uncertainty -> Understanding
Complexity -> Clarity
Ambiguity -> Agility
We are not at a point where we can effectively: total, safely protect, easily transport and access our health data. I read a great article by Margalit Gur-Arie entitled, “Trust your life records to an unnamed chain of software vendors” she uses an analogy of our current banking system to emphasize how far away we are from gaining the trust around our health records data. Great article and highly recommended. This got me thinking about how we manage our data today?
The current focus on the use of smartphones and tablets are mainly for the physicians and nurses. We have yet to discuss the needs of the patients? My personal experience in daily work routines, writing my blogs and using smartphones indicates we are still evolving. There are some models of storing data that could promote greater adoption of data management that would help accelerate the use of technology for managing healthcare data.
A few weeks ago I had accidentally dropped my laptop. You know those moments when you’re traveling for business and just happened to let your device slip from your hands. This damaged the LCD display rendering my laptop useless as I was not able to use my data. For the next week I struggled to work effectively, and yes I do keep up a back-up of my data. So I had to cart around my portable drive with my files to a desktop with Internet access, and rely more heavily on my smartphone.
Bottom line from this experience is that smartphones are still not the answer to managing my data. I still rely on apps to do my daily work routines. There needs to be alternatives to managing apps and data across several devices.
Managing your health records
My brother is a kidney transplant recipient. In my earlier blog “Fresh start in 2011” I mentioned how thankful I am for his life. Those of you that have a relative who has undergone these kinds of operations you know that there is a daily regimen of medications to keep the body from rejecting the foreign organ. Have you seen the amount of ‘paper’ data from all the specialists and physicians it takes to keep this all in balance? Even with a dedicated intern whose job it is to check and analyze this data still takes a few hours just to make a ‘minor’ medication adjustment!
There are some apps on the market that address specific medical data: heart monitoring, diabetes tracking, etc. I would be very interested in a personal health record (PHR) that can sum the data from multiple sources?
Smartphones and Tablets – we’re still developing
iPhone versus Android. The iPad versus the latest set of tablets. Earlier this week I posed several questions at the 2011 mHealth Trends (HIMSS Preview) webinar with Brian Dolan (@mobilehealth) and John Moore (@john_chilmark). These devices are still evolving in the market and while it is getting easier to check health data via individual apps we are not addressing the issue of managing the complete portfolio (or checkbook) of your health data?
Later this year the iPhone 5 will be out on the market. As well as an update to the popular iPad tablet. The market is evolving with devices that are easier to use and much more powerful. We have come a long way since the bag phone and netbooks.
How can we digest all of these changes – what is still missing?
There are ways to manage your data on multiple devices. Mobileme (www.apple.com/mobileme/) from Apple is a good example of how their devices can have data synched via the Internet for email, contacts and files. There are apps like SimpleNote (www.simplenoteapp.com) that allows you to support ideas using any smartphone and allow you to reach these ideas, in my case, via the laptop. The idea is that with a little effort I can avoid the unintended consequences of the loss on one device leveraging cloud computing as the repository for my data.
We are still not there when it comes to health records. Since the sources of the data come from a variety of sources. Physicians will soon be using electronic health records. Now the challenge will be how do patients aggregate this data? Can’t say I have a good answer for this based on some of the personal health records I’ve tested.
I would be interested if someone has found a ‘true’ personal health record that can be maintained on multiple devices and allow me to summarize my results data. Once this is in place we can then address the issues of security and portability. In the meantime my daily work is in helping Life Sciences companies’ leverage how an individual can use, analyze and get this data via a variety of devices. I am optimistic that we will see a day when software vendors in the healthcare space act like banks and financial institutes. Though I can’t see how the ATMs fit in all this…..who knows?
I’m not very good at keeping New Year’s resolutions. Yet what I intend to do this year is to align my interests with what I am currently doing. At present I am contracting with an IT service provide to ‘start-up’ a new Life Sciences practice. So in keeping with the title of my blog, how to ‘leverage IT for Life Sciences and Healthcare’ I hope to share what I’ve learned. I started blogging using Blogger and I hope you can see the change now that I have moved up to WordPress. This site has much more tools and allows for greater flexibility in terms of the ‘appearance’ of my blog. I would be interested in your comments on this……
In starting up a new business unit I’ve got to figure out how to be successful in a short period of time. I look forward to describing what I’ve learned through this blog. So the topics that I want to focus on are as follows:
- “Design Thinking” – this is a new way to approach problem solving that combine both analytical and intuitive thinking. OK Jim, so how does this apply to IT and Life Sciences? Well if you consider that everyone seems to use some ERP package is there a way to make money in ‘improving’ IT processes? I think so and there are ways to promote ‘process innovation.’ What has been bothering me is how to go about this, in such a way as to develop a business around this……
- How can IT improve areas such as Clinical Development? Unlike ERP where the business processes have been ‘integrated’ can the same be done in the area of R&D in Life Sciences? Is there a need to link Sales&Marketing applications back into R&D to help Life Sciences and clinical trials? I will talk about this under “Process Innovation.”
- “Closing the loop” between the patient and Life Sciences companies. In the US, if we expect to achieve “Personalized Medicine” Life Sciences companies will need information from patients. The current ‘eco system’ in the industry prevents this from happening. So topics that I want to look into include: eHealth, Health 2.0, and ePatients.
- We will also look into leveraging ‘cloud computing’ within Life Sciences.
- The launch of this new business unit will let me try out new Social Media tools. This should be fun as there are new ways to ‘market’ new services and products. Yet choosing which tools to use is a challenge – especially given budget and scheduling constraints. Let’s face it – if I’m to be successful at launching this new business I’d better get the word out and create the attention needed in the market.
Word Press and the iPhone application – I like my Apple iPhone and so in the course of writing this I have had the chance to use the WordPress 2.0 application. Works great and saves me time when a new idea hits me. The application allows you to write-up a new idea and save it as a ‘draft.’ Make some tweaks and edits – chekc for grammar and spelling then hit the ‘publish’ button.