From SXSW: Why You Should Care About Health Tech

March 18, 2014

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There’s an old adage that if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Historically it’s come up most often in conversations about God. Can’t say I had or saw any of those conversations last week at SXSW.

What I did see was a ton of conversations on health tech. Everyone’s talking about wearables, the connected self, health tracking apps and even electronic medical records. When a topic spikes like that at SXSW, it basically becomes legitimized – see Twitter and real-time marketing – and people pay attention to the trend. But what we don’t talk about enough in these situations is why the trend exists.

Back to the seeing is believing point. According to the Social Science Research Network, 65 percent of people are visual learners. And the idea of “being healthy” hasn’t exactly been easy to see in the past. We know we’re supposed to take care of ourselves. But the data behind being healthy wasn’t easily accessible. So people were left to come up with their own definitions.

Today you can see good health everywhere you look. Your Fitbit tracks how many steps you take. Your friends post their Map My Run mile times on Facebook. Your doctor’s office sends you follow up emails recapping your appointment and giving you access to personal health data.

Therein lies the opportunity in health tech and why everyone is talking about it. Competition. We’re a competitive society. And the access to all this data and tracking has gamified health care and made us see and believe. With healthier people, health care costs decrease. With healthier employees, companies have topay less for care. Look for companies to ramp up the incentives they offer employees to use the data they now have access to. And watch for the social shaming that will take place for those who don’t jump on board.

Peoples’ appetite for health data and willingness to change behavior based on that data is the trend companies should be excited about and eager to invest in.