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Healthy and appy - Wellness is big business. Mediablaze look at the impact of data integration on this multi-billion dollar industry.
The wealth of mobile apps monitoring people’s health and wellness has exploded. Driven by both the Internet of Things and the proliferation of smart phones, this global smart wellness market is expected to reach a valuation of USD$520.29 billion by 2023 (source: Market Research Future, 2019).
Top free health and fitness apps on Google Play range from meditation and sleep app, Headspace to My Fitness Pal’s food tracking app, Calorie Counter, to Fit Bit, which tracks metrics including activity, sleep and calorie intake. Each one taps into consumers’ growing appetite for access to health and fitness information at their fingertips. It is an expectation fuelled by a convenience culture and perpetuated by companies like Amazon, Uber and Netflix.
Sokratis Papafloratos, technology entrepreneur and CEO at Numan, a digital healthcare platform for men, says data is enabling this trend, creating a huge opportunity for health and fitness brands to grow their market.
“A humans we constantly emit signals and data, on a daily basis. We now have ways to capture that data. This enables a better understanding of ourselves, and wearables like FitBit make the quality of that data higher than ever before.”
An enhanced means of capturing user data, coupled with a user desire to access this information in a quick and meaningful way, is driving greater integration between data sets, providing consumers with a more holistic view of their health and fitness. Indeed, the more comprehensive the picture, the more compelling the app.
It is a trend borne out by tech pioneers including Apple, which last year updated its Health app to incorporate customers’ medical records on the iPhone. Combining information from hospitals and clinics with existing app data means users no longer need to log into multiple providers’ web sites to keep track of their wellbeing. As Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO said, “By empowering customers to see their overall health, we hope to help consumers better understand their health and help them lead healthier lives.”
Lloyd Price, co-founder of Zesty, an online healthcare appointment booking service, is also addressing this need for convenience, enabling consumers to manage their own care in a frictionless way by providing more than just one part of the puzzle.
“We integrate into a wide range of primary and secondary systems and have plans to integrate into more clinical systems in the next 12 months.”
Empowerment is the watch word. Health and fitness brands who can give people immediate access to a range of information - from cholesterol levels to blood pressure, calories burned and activity levels, for example - in one place are endowing them with a profound sense of control over their own bodies. This knowledge can help to drive positive behavioural change.
What's next for fitness and wellness apps?
Integration of fitness and wellness apps has been further accelerated since Apple made its health record API accessible to third parties last year. This allows other apps to contribute metrics to Apple Health - with the user’s permission - from nutritional information to activity information as well as data such as body temperature and blood pressure. For example, salad chain, Sweetgreen uses the data to enable customers to log the meals they order through the app, storing the information in their health record. Garmin Connect, Nike+ Run Club, MyFitnessPal and Strava also contribute data to Apple Health.
The demand for increasingly sophisticated healthcare via mobile apps is clear, and as data science continues to facilitate integration, a future when consumers share all their health and fitness data with their GP in a single repository can’t be too far away.
There are already a proliferation of medical apps. For example, GP At Hand offers digital GP appointments via smartphones 24/7 and is currently available to NHS patients in London. Between March 2018 and March 2019 it signed up over 30,000 patients from GP practices across London and is due to roll out in Birmingham imminently.
Our convenience culture now extends to our health and fitness, and brands who get it right will be those who can connect the dots to deliver a holistic experience.
As Price says, “Apple has blurred the line between health, wellness and fitness.” It is a glimpse of the future.
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