As some of you may know, connected health company Withings just finished raising $60 million to build a strong presence in the healthcare industry. For most of its existence, Withings has focused on selling to consumers, so this marks a major turning point for the company.
The question now is whether Withings — along with giants like Fitbit and Apple — can convince doctors to rely on devices they once saw as toys. Though some providers are experimenting with using wearables for remote monitoring, they are still in the minority, and it’s hard to say when others will follow in their footsteps.
Over the past few years, Withings has been through a few twists and turns. In 2016, it was acquired by Nokia, but just two years later a group including the company’s original founders and some of its investors bought the company back from the telecom giant.
When his group re-acquired the company, it resolved to focus only on medical-grade products and services, according to Withings CEO Mathieu Letombe. Executives made this decision, in part, because business customers were asking them to do it, Letombe said.
However, I think Withings execs may find that convincing doctors and hospitals to adopt its product is harder than it looks, in part because its consumer background does little to inspire trust among clinicians.
For one thing, if doctors are to adopt for clinical use, they’ll have to feel confident that the company making the wearable has an in-depth understanding of what they do, something Withings will find difficult to prove.
Not only that, the vendor will also have to convince clinicians that the data its devices collect is reliable, valid and useful. While the company may say that its products are designed to be “medical grade,” Withings will have to prove it.
Then, bear in mind that doctors are being inundated with data collected by EHRs. If they’re already overwhelmed by information coming from eminently credible sources, why would they want to add even more data to the pile, especially if they consider it to be somewhat flaky or inconsistent?
Don’t get me wrong, I realize that with potential funding and smart leadership, Withings may eventually convince physicians that smartwatches and other wearables deserve a seat at the table. As I’ve noted before, the entry of Google’s Fitbit into the B2B side of things could solidify this market all on its lonesome.
Still, deals like this aside, I still think Withings and its competitors may find it harder than they expected to win acceptance in the healthcare world. However, it’s definitely not going to be easy even with the virtual care tailwinds asking for it.