Tag Archives: FitBit

Our Unreasonable Expectation For Devices And Apps

I was reading an article the other day about devices like FitBit and their use within corporate wellness programs. One of the questions it was asking was why use them when people abandon them after a while.  I found this great chart from Endeavour Partners in their whitepaper which looks a lot like an adherence curve.  They say that 1/3 of people abandon their devices within 6 months which makes it a hard investment for anyone.  Image

 

It’s the same question you might ask around mobile apps.  While this chart shows that Americans install almost 33 apps, the questions is how long they use them.

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(Source: http://www.statista.com/chart/1435/top-10-countries-by-app-usage/)

According to Flurry, most apps peak within 3 months, and they show that health and fitness app retention is only 30% after 90-days. Again, that doesn’t make you want to invest a lot of money in a mobile app.  But, there are lots of reports out there telling us that people want to use mobile to communicate with their providers, track calories, and do lots of other health related tasks.  (see RuderFinn report, see IMS report, see Pew report)

So, what gives?  Do we have unreasonable expectations?  I would say yes.

We live in a ADD culture where people are constantly multi-tasking.  People want things that evolve and constantly change.  It’s the same reason we don’t want the same experience every single day.  It’s the reason that you’ve seen people from gaming coming into healthcare.  They understand how to keep people engaged over time.

Whether you want to picture it as a customer journey or different phases, the reality is that messaging needs to evolve with the consumer.  If you got the same letter every month, at some point, you don’t even pay any attention to it.  At some point, you wouldn’t even open it.

When I worked in healthcare communications, it was the same challenge from a strategy perspective.  How would we coordinate communications across channels?  What would the first message say versus the fifth message?  How do you avoid message or channel fatigue?

It’s the same thing in the digital or device world.  So, I ask the question…do we have unreasonable expectations about these tools by thinking that we can put them out there and sustain use of them?  I think so.  We need an evolving, constantly changing strategy about content, community, functionality, etc. to keep engagement sustained.

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Great #BigData JAMA Image Missing Some Data Sources

JAMA image data

When I saw this article and image in JAMA, I was really excited.  It’s a good collection of structured and unstructured data sources.  It reminded me of Dr. Harry Greenspun’s tweet from earlier today which points out why this new thinking is important.

 

But, it also made me think about this image and what was missing.  The chart shows all the obvious data sources:

  • Pharmacy
  • Medical
  • Lab
  • Demographic
  • EMR / PHR

It even points out some of the newer sources of data:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Online communities
  • Genetics

But, I think they missed several that I think are important and relevant:

  1. Structured assessments like the PHQ-9 for depression screening or the Patient Activation Measure.
  2. Communications data like:
    • How often do they call the call center?
    • What types of questions do they have?
    • Do they respond to calls, e-mails, SMS, letters, etc?
    • Have they identified any barriers to adherence or other actions (e.g., vaccines)?  Is that stored at the pharmacy, call center, MD notes?
  3. Browser / Internet data:
    • This could be mobile data from my phone.
    • What searches I’ve done to find health information.  What have I read?  Was it a reliable source?
  4. Device data (e.g., FitBit):
    • What’s my sleep pattern?
    • What am I eating?
    • How many steps do I walk a day?
  5. Income information or even credit score type data

These things seem more relevant to me than fitness club memberships (which doesn’t actually mean you go to the fitness club) or ancestry.com data which isn’t very personalized (to the best of my knowledge).

In some cases, just simply understanding how consumers are using the healthcare system might be revealing and provide a perspective on their health literacy.

  • Do they call the Nurseline?
  • Do they go to the ER?
  • Do they have a PCP?
  • Do they use the EAP?

We’d like to think this was all coordinated (and sometimes scared into believing that it is), but the reality is that these data silos exist with limited ability to track a patient longitudinally and be sure that the patient is the same across data sources without a common, unique identifier.

10 Healthcare Projects I’d Like To Solve

I always tend to see the glass half full so when I see a problem then I often want to rush in and try to fix it. With that said, here are 10 things that I’ve thought about that I’d like to fix or see as big opportunities:

1. The healthcare experience. While this is the third leg of the Triple Aim, it often seems like the one that is so hard for healthcare companies to get. The system is so fragmented that the patient often is forgotten.

2. Device integration. While devices are better and integration is possible, there is still a huge lift to integrate my data into the typical clinical workflow. This is only going to get much worse with ubiquitous use of sensors and will be the limiting factor in the growth of the Quantified Self movement. (See my post on FitBit)

3. Intelligent phones. This is something that people carry everywhere. They often live life through the phone sometimes missing out on reality. The phone has tons of data as I’ve described before. We have to figure out how to tap into this in a less disruptive way.

4. Consumer preferences. I’m a big believer in preference-based marketing. But the question is how do I disclose my preferences, to whom, and are my preferences really the best way to get me to engage. What would be ideal is if we could find a way to scale down fMRI technology and allow us to disclose this information to key companies so they could get us to take actions that were in our best interest. (see old post on Buyology)

5. Benefits selection. I’ve picked the wrong benefits a few times. This drives me crazy. As I mentioned the other day, the technology to help with this exists and all the data which sits in EMRs and PHRs should allow us to fix this problem.

6. The role of retail pharmacy. This is one of my favorite topics. With more retail pharmacies than McDonalds and a huge problem of access, pharmacies could be the key turning point in influencing change in this country.

7. Caregiver empowerment. Anyone who cares for an adult and/or child knows how hard it is to be a caregiver and take care of their own needs. This becomes even harder with the people being geographically apart. With all the sensors and remote technology out there, I see this being a hot space in the next decade.

8. The smart house. As an architect, I’ve always dreamed of helping create the intelligent house where it knows what food you have. It manages your heat and light. It tracks your movements and could call for help if you fall. I see this being an opportunity to empower seniors to live at home longer.

9. Helping the disenfranchised. For years, we’ve all seen data showing that income can affect health. The question is how will we fix this. Coverage for all is certainly a critical step but that won’t fix it. We have a huge health literacy issue also. Ultimately, public health needs a program like we had to get people to wear seat belts. We need yo own our fate and change it before we end up like the humans in the movie Wall-e.

10. A Hispanic healthcare company in the US. With 16% of the US that speak Spanish, I’m shocked that I haven’t seen someone come out with a health and wellness company that is Hispanic centric in terms of the approach to improving care, engaging consumers, and providing support.

So, what would you like to solve?

Only 15% Of Workers Leave The Office Every Day

Have you noticed that you eat lunch more at your desk every day?  I certainly have.

With 7 hours of meetings (at least) every day plus 300+ emails every day, we’re busy.  I’d argue that most companies these days are busier than they were historically.  At the same time, everyone is focused on wellness and healthier choices.  When sleep, diet, exercise, and stress are all related to health, it’s hard to separate those from the workplace.

That being said, I wasn’t too surprised by this recent poll I saw which highlights this.

Exercise at work

Why Use RunKeeper?

I’ve been a longtime user of Garmin for my running.  They provide easy to use GPS watches that provide you with all the details and history you want.  I also now have my FitBit as another tracking device when I run.

So, while several people encouraged me to try RunKeeper, I was hesitant.  How many trackers for the same activity do I need?  But, I started carrying my iPhone for music while I ran so I decided to give it a try.

I like it.

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So, the question is why?

  1. It talks to you.  While looking at my Garmin is pretty easy, the RunKeeper app speaks into my headphones while I’m running to tell me when I’ve completed a half-mile, what my total time is, what my average mile pace is, and what my last split was.  I can certainly calculate all that and see it on my Garmin, but this is very easy.
  2. It gives you reinforcement and now some badges (through Foursquare which I don’t use).  But, I do like the reinforcement – i.e., that was your longest run, that was your fastest run.  Simple but positive.
  3. It has a nice GUI (graphical user interface) or app.  It tracks my data.  It’s easy to read.

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So, if you’re like I was, I’d recommend trying it.

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The #QuantifiedSelf and “Walking Interview”

If you haven’t heard, “sitting is the new smoking” in terms of health status.  And, unfortunately, you can’t just get up and exercise for an hour and then go sit all day.  That brief spurt of exercise doesn’t change the fact that we sit for 9+ hours a day.

If you think about our shift in work from a very manual work environment to a service and technology work environment, we’ve made activity during the day harder and harder to achieve.  Between e-mail and meetings, most of us are stagnant to accomplish our work.

That got me thinking about the #QuantifiedSelf movement and all of the activity trackers (e.g., FitBit, BodyMedia).  We know companies definitely look online to see people’s social media activity as part of the interview process.  Will they begin to ask about their activity data as a proxy for health?

On the flipside, perhaps the person interviewing should really be asking to see their potential boss’ activity data.  I’d be as interested in knowing what happens during the day.  It would provide a lot of insight into what happens in terms of meetings, face-t0-face activity, and be a good proxy for the real work experience.

Of course, the other option would be to introduce “walking interviews”.  People talk about walking meetings.  I’ve even done a running meeting going for a jog with a potential partner to discuss how we work together.  (It was the only time we could find to meet at a conference.)

Walking interviews would tell you a lot about someone’s health.  You could go up some stairs.  You could walk a few miles in an hour.

Since we know that health, happiness, and wealth are all correlated, this type of insight for the interviewer and interviewee seems very valuable.

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Life Through #QuantifiedSelf Glasses

No…this is not about how Google Glass can impact healthcare although I do believe it can and will (something many are talking about). 

This is about how the QuantifiedSelf movement can change your view of the world.  Ever since I’ve been using the FitBit (see my review) and focusing on getting 10,000 plus steps per day, I’ve noticed a change in how I view the world. 

Here’s some examples:

  1. We got 12″ of snow yesterday.  I was immediately thinking about how great of exercise it would be to shovel the snow.  I was excited to go out several times and shovel.
  2. When I was flying today, I was thinking “hopefully we’ll get dropped off at a far gate so I can get in some extra steps.”
  3. I’ve been excited to clean the house and get in the steps from cleaning.
  4. I look forward to grocery shopping.
  5. I park farther away in the parking lot.
  6. I’m sometimes intentionally less productive at home to get a few extra sets of stairs in for the day.
  7. When I’m cutting brownies, I’m calculating out how many brownies are supposed to be in the recipe and making sure I cut them to the right size.
  8. When I eat something, I think about how many steps I’ll have to walk (or run) to burn off that food. 
  9. When I pick meals at a restaurant, I’m always looking for their nutritional menu or going online before ordering.

It’s a totally different way of thinking about life when you look through these “quantified self glasses” to see the world through a “health lense” about calories, exercise, sleep, stress, and other dimensions.

What’s Your #Moment4Change?

I’ve being doing a lot of work lately on how to tackle the obesity problem in the US. This has been great personally as it has forced me to look at lots of research to understand all the tools out there.

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Coaching programs
  • Devices
  • Social networks
  • Physicians
  • Centers of Excellence

It’s also made me look at different drivers of obesity including sleep and stress. The new report out showing that sitting is a huge problem (even if you exercise) is very eye-opening also.

For years, I’ve talked about my challenges is managing my weight which lead to some fluctuations, but at the end of the day, I think a lot of this boils down to a “Golden Moment” or a “Moment4Change”. Even people who do this every day (e.g., doctors or sports coaches) are often overweight. We have to have something which prompts us to change our life. We aren’t generally motivated by dropping our HDL. We’re motivated by being able to play with our kids or living long enough to see our kids get married.

In my life, there have been several Moment4Change points so I thought I would put this out there to hear what’s motivated others:

  • In 2002, I went to the doctor for the first time in a decade. He saw some health risks in my blood work and sent me to another physician. He told me I was obese. (Something less than 50% of physicians actually tell their overweight patients.) I was shocked. I was 215 pounds and 5′-10″. After 2 days of agony, I decided that I couldn’t accept that diagnosis and proceeded to lose 40 pounds in the next 60 days (all through exercise and social motivation through a running group).
  • Last fall after letting much of that weight creep back on over the decade, I decided to do a 5K with one of my kids. I’d run 3 marathons and was running several days a week (although at an average pace of 9 minute miles). I got killed as my kid ran at a 7:30 pace in their first race ever. Not only did I feel old, but I felt like I wasn’t being much of a role model. That motivated me to change. Now, after using the FitBit (see several comments), I’ve had good success losing 25 pounds in 3 months and seeing my cholesterol drop 120 points in that same time frame.

So, I’m interested. What has motivated you to changed? And, how do you measure success? I suggested that while women may use the “skinny jeans” test that men might be more likely to use the “belt buckle” test.

 

 

I think this image below from the AON Hewitt 2012 Health Care Survey is a good one about the fact that 80% of our costs are driven by 8 behaviors.

I also thought that this presentation at the FMI by The Well which was a GSW project was right in line with this.

FitBit Review Summary – Device, Apps, And Suggestions

In the spirit of the Quantified Self movement and in order to better understand how mHealth tools like FitBit can drive behavior change, I’ve been using a FitBit One for about 6 weeks now. I’ve posted some notes along the way, but I thought I’d do a wrap up post here. Here’s the old posts.

Those were focused mostly on the device itself. Now I’ve had some time to play with the mobile app. Let me provide some comments there.  And, with the data showing a jump in buyers this year, I expect this will be a hot topic at the Consumer Electronics Show this week.

  • The user interface is simple to use. (see a few screenshots below)

  • I feel like it works in terms of helping me learn about my food habits. (Which I guess shouldn’t be surprising since research shows that having a food diary works and another recent study showed that a tool worked better than a paper diary.) For example, I learned several things:
    1. I drink way too little water.
    2. I eat almost 65% of my calories by the end of lunch.
    3. Some foods that I thought were okay have too many calories.
  • In general, the tracking for my steps makes me motivated to try to walk further on days that I’m not doing good.
  • The ease of use and simple device has helped me change behavior.  For example, when I went to go to dinner tonight, I quickly looked up my total calories and saw that I had 600 calories left.  Here’s what I ate for dinner.  (It works!)

Meal

But, on the flipside, I think there are some simple improvement options:

  1. I eat a fairly similar breakfast everyday which is either cereal with 2% milk and orange juice or chocolate milk (if after a workout). [In case you don’t know, chocolate milk is great for your recovery.] Rather than have to enter each item, FitBit could analyze your behavior and recommend a “breakfast bundle”. (and yes, I know I could create it myself)
  2. Some days, I don’t enter everything I eat. When I get my end of week report, it shows me all the calories burned versus the calories taken in. That shows a huge deficit which isn’t true. I think they should do two things:
    1. Add some type of daily validation when you fall below some typical caloric intake. (Did you enter all your food yesterday, it seemed low?)
    2. Then create some average daily intake to allow you to have a semi-relevant weekly summary.
  3. The same can be true for days that you forget to carry your device or even allowing for notes on days (i.e., was sick in bed). This would provide a more accurate long-term record for analysis.
  4. The food search engine seems to offer some improvement opportunities. For example, one day I ate a Dunkin Donuts donut, but it had most types but not the one I ate. I don’t understand that since there’s only about 15 donuts. But, perhaps it’s a search engine or Natural Language Processing (NLP) issue. (I guess it could be user error, but in this case, I don’t think so.)
  5. Finally, as I think about mHealth in general, I think it would be really important to see how these devices and this data is integrated with a care management system.  I should be able to “opt-in” my case manager to get these reports and/or the data.

The other opportunity that I think exists is better promotion of some things you don’t learn without searching the FitBit site:

  • They’re connected with lots of other apps.  Which ones should I use?  Can’t it see which other ones I have on my phone and point this out?  How would they help me?
  • There’s a premium version with interesting analysis.  Why don’t they push these to me?

I also think that they would want an upsell path as they rollout new things like the new Flex wristband revealed at CES.

And, with the discussions around whether physicians will “prescribe” apps, it’s going to be important for them to be part of these discussions although this survey from Philips showed that patients continue to increasingly rely on these apps and Dr. Google.

Philips_Health_Infographic_12%2012_F3

Finally, before I close, all of this makes me think about an interesting dialogue recently on Twitter about Quantified Self.

FitBit One Goes To The Gym – Last Challenge

I’ve shared a few tests with you about my FitBit One which included comparisons against my Garmin and versus a pedometer. Today, I got to take it to the gym with me and tested it for distance and calorie count relative to several pieces of equipment from LifeFitness – treadmill, stationary bike, and elliptical. For the treadmill, I also looked it two ways: (1) running at an 8 minute mile pace and (2) walking at a 15 minute mile pace at a 15% slope.

As you can see before, the FitBit was much better aligned on distance with the treadmill, but it was not as aligned on calorie count. I’m have no hypothesis here. I will say that I was surprised that the uphill walking didn’t somehow register as steps. I say that because I went on an outside run the other day up and down hills, and the FitBit did a great job of tracking my uphill runs and translating that into floors climbed.

As a side note, I think this does a nice job (if you believe the equipment calorie count) on showing how a slow walk up a steep slope can burn lots of calories compared to a fast run.

FitBit vs Garmin – Test #2

As I mentioned, I got my new FitBit One the other day. I’ve been experimenting with it each day. Yesterday, I showed how it performed versus a pedometer. Today, I focused on how it performed versus my Garmin Forerunner watch that I use to track my distance and speed when running outside. While the data relative to the pedometer was pretty similar, there was a 15-16% discrepancy between the FitBit and my Garmin.

According to the Garmin, the FitBit was underestimating my distance traveled. To validate the distance, I also used www.walkjogrun.net to calculate the distance (which they estimated to be 0.82 miles).

At the same time, I also wanted to see if there was a difference between just having it sitting in the bottom of my pocket versus putting it on my belt loop. Location didn’t seem to matter.

 

(Note: This chart shows distance in miles.)

FitBit vs. Pedometer – Test One

I’ve been enjoying the FitBit One for a few days now.  I decided there were a few tests that I’d like to do.  The first one was to compare it to the step count from a pedometer that I’ve had. 

It hasn’t been a highly active day (as I’ve been working from my home office), but there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference. 


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