Global installations of mobile apps used for sports and fitness activities are expected to rise by 63 percent between 2012 and 2017, boosting the market for wearable health devices such as heart-rate monitors, according to market research firm IHS.
Yet according to a recent Harris Interactive survey, 56 percent of consumers have never used any type of health-tracking device, app or web site.
To help consumers and clinicians navigate this burgeoning field, the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts, has launched Wellocracy, a clinically based source of information on new personal “self-health” technologies such as health and fitness trackers and mobile apps.
"There is a huge void in the market today,” said Joseph Kvedar, M.D., founder and director of the Center for Connected Health, in a prepared statement. “Easy to use, accurate and effective health and wellness trackers are readily available, yet most consumers are not using them. Wellocracy will fill that void and help individuals select the right health technology best suited to their preferences and goals, and figure out the personal motivation that will keep them on track to best manage their health.”
The Center for Connected Health has been a pioneer in creating connected health programs at Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospitals, including Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals in Boston. The center has worked with underserved populations through text messaging. It created text-messaging interventions for prenatal and addiction patients.
Now it is broadening its scope to try to help people have more success in working with self-health technology. A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Wellocracy found that
48 percent of Americans find it difficult to stay motivated to live a healthy life, and only 22 percent are very confident in their ability to keep track of their own health. However, 65 percent believe that using a health tracking device, website or app would be beneficial.
“There are dozens of activity and health trackers on the market today, and literally thousands of health apps available for consumers,” Kvedar said. “Yet, instead of getting people moving towards a healthy lifestyle, most feel paralyzed by all these choices and the technology can be dizzying, Wellocracy is focused on inspiring and empowering individuals to self-manage their health and wellness by providing up-to-date information, expert guidance and innovative ideas to help people get the most out of personal health technologies."
This isn’t The Center for Connected Health’s first mobile health (mHealth) related project. In the past, the nonprofit has initiated efforts related to empowering underserved patients.