New Year’s Resolutions, Movement, and Health Trackers

As most of you know, I live in Las Vegas and so I’m lucky enough to be able to attend the annual International CES (Consumer Electronic Show) every year. Over the years, I’ve watched the healthcare section of the show really evolve. 13 years ago when I first attended the conference there was basically nothing healthcare specific. Now, the digital health portion of the show takes up about half of the Sands convention center floor and has its own dedicated Digital Health Summit which is like a show within a show.

What’s fascinating though is how the health section has evolved. Once healthcare started showing up at CES, they were all companies in 10×10 or 10×20 booths talking about the latest health trackers, at home medical devices, etc. Most weren’t exactly sure how this would be adopted and they were torn between going full consumer device versus still working with doctors and other healthcare providers. We had some amazing discussions about the potential of these devices to impact care.

As the years progressed, the healthcare booths got bigger and bigger, but the conversations got worse and worse. Most of the booths put on an impressive show but shared little of value when it comes to what they actually could do to improve your health. In many cases, I felt like I was at a dance club as opposed to a tradeshow. It was insane to experience after seeing the evolution.

This shift made it clear to me that most of these digital health companies had chosen to go full consumer and didn’t care about any actual improvement in health or connecting the users of their products and the data those products collect with their care provider.

Maybe this was the smart business move. We’ve been discussing for years that most of these step trackers and other fitness trackers weren’t clinically relevant and so they weren’t of real interest to most doctors. Once the sensors were good enough that they were clinically relevant, then it would make sense to bridge the gap to the medical establishment. Until then, it’s much easier to sell a fitness tracker as a consumer device that’s more for fun than it is actually clinically relevant. I expect this trend to continue as we see a clear separation between FDA cleared devices and those that aren’t. I think that will be the real demarcation of what doctors care about and what they don’t.

While we’ve seen this shift, I’ve also been fascinated to watch efforts to get people moving. In many respects, that was one of the biggest benefits of various fitness tracking devices. It tracked your steps which were a good motivator for many to take more steps.

Maybe it’s just my Twitter feed, but a new related movement has come together recently on Twitter with the hashtag #IMovedToday. My Twitter feed has had a wide variety of people sharing tweets and pictures of them choosing to move today more than they had previously. It’s pretty inspiring to see people choosing to move and also recognizing the efforts they’re making to move.

I’ll admit that the social pressure of seeing all of these tweets that say “#IMovedToday” is pretty awesome and for me it’s inspiring. I imagine for some it could be depressing too though. One of the tweets I saw was from an ultrarunner who casually did 100k that day with the hashtag #IMovedToday. Yeah, that was a bit tough to read. That said, most of the tweets have been simple acts from people trying to add more movement to their daily life. Seeing them is refreshing and a great reminder to get up and move.

What’s also been fascinating on the #IMovedToday hashtag is the wide variety of movements that people are sharing. Just seeing the wide variety of ways you can move is also great. Certainly running and jogging are the top ones followed by Yoga and working out at a gym. However, there are other great things like a hike through the woods or walking to Christmas Lights or snowshoeing or something as simple as taking the stairs versus the escalator.

I love these types of simple efforts to improve health. Social pressure and being part of a community of people is a powerful thing. Plus, don’t underestimate the power of sharing that you moved that day on social media. That won’t work for everyone, but it will for a lot of people. The idea also works for everyone and anyone. It doesn’t specify how much you should move or how far you should go. It just encourages people to move more today than they did previously.

As we hit that time where everyone starts to make New Years Resolutions, it seemed really fitting to write about the #IMovedToday hashtag. Maybe that will be your goal. Post about how you moved on Twitter with that hashtag. There will be a community of people there following along and supporting you in your efforts. That’s a beautiful idea.

Or as Dr. Leong tweeted:

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most powerful. No special tracker needed.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

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  • This is a great take John. I did some exploration of the failure of consumer wearables myself: https://www.techprescribed.com/all-posts/failure-consumer-wearables-12032018.

    Ultimately, what we are starting to realize is that fitness trackers are not fitness motivators. The social communities that come along with them can make a greater impact than the devices themselves. It is good that more people are aware of their physical activity, but it is more important that we find ways to get them off the couch. Looking forward to seeing this evolve in the coming years.

   

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