Digital & Social Media

‘Cue’ Up Remote Healthcare Tech

‘Cue’ Up Remote Healthcare Tech

Up-to-Minute Status of Just How Healthy You Are
Campaign: A new Bluetooth-enabled health tool lets users track their wellbeing from the comfort of their own home. Cue, which launched in the US this week, enables owners to monitor key health indicators and receive results direct to their smartphone.

Five statistics can be tracked: inflammation, vitamin D, fertility, influenza, and testosterone. Cue has developed a ‘cartridge’ for each one, which takes a biological sample from the owner’s body. The influenza cartridge, for instance, requires users to take a nasal swab, whereas testosterone levels can be monitored with a drop of saliva.

Once the samples are loaded into the cartridge, the system sends information to the cloud and analyses it. Results are sent to an app on your smartphone within minutes. The app can then recommend appropriate action to be taken: If you have been exercising and your muscles are inflamed, Cue will recommend that you eat foods like kale or Omega-3 rich salmon.

The San Diego startup is taking pre-orders on the devices for $150, with shipping due to begin in pring 2015.

Contagious, FleishmanHillard’s Childs Weigh In

Contagious: The capabilities of this device might not be revolutionary, but Cue has managed to package these up in a way that’s immediately appealing and user-centric. As chief product officer Clint Sever said in a recent interview: “Taking these fundamental laboratory principles and technologies and packing them into a system anyone can use was really the key challenge in developing the product.” We’ve often criticized sectors, such as wearable tech, for not appealing to the needs of real people — appearing to be tech for tech’s sake. Cue, however, seems to understands people and their needs.

Ayub Khattak, the CEO and co-founder of Cue, thought of the idea during the swine flu pandemic in 2009: “We were seeing how the whole [health industry] system was really inefficient in getting people the information they wanted at that time, which was ‘Do I have swine flu or not,’” he told Apple Insider.  “If people could just have a simple hardware product in their homes that allowed them to find out this information easily, then everything would change about how we reacted to that situation.”

While devices like these may seem like expensive luxuries to most people right now, they could be an important tool in everyday life in the not-too-distant future. (Especially as scientists have recently found that antibiotic resistant superbugs are now a ‘global epidemic’, and getting worse each year).

Just like Babylon, which we wrote about last week, Cue is an early insight into the larger shifts in the healthcare industry. As more personal tracking and diagnostic devices become available, the role of consultants and GPs is starting to change. Many people now go to the doctor’s with ideas as to why they may be ill. And, unlike the wholly inaccurate and impersonal Google symptom searches, Cue could help to supply additional information to help speed up diagnoses and even start to prevent illnesses from occurring.

This is all well and good, but what relevance does this have for brands outside the health industry? The wellness agenda in the developed world is currently dominated by conversations surrounding weight loss/gain. But could devices like this help to extend consumer awareness beyond calorie counting? Cue brings other important factors to the fore — vitamin deficiencies, fertility rates, inflammation levels — and suggests foods and processes to help strengthen these. In the future, could FMCG brands (smoothies, protein sources, high vitamin juices etc.) partner with these sorts of devices to offer a holistic solution to customers? It’s worth a thought.

Nick Childs: As we welcome the inaugural Cannes Lions Health festival celebrating “creative communications in healthcare and wellness,” the launch of Cue is timely. Personal wireless tech that allows users to monitor their health and get quick feedback at a reasonable cost promises to alter not only the way patients interact with healthcare providers, but also how brands can better include themselves authentically in that relationship.

Cue seems most appealing from a user experience point of view. As digital data and wearable tech continue to change everyday lives, we no longer want to wait for appointments or spend time trekking to a store before we even know we like a product. We want immediate feedback — whether it’s to find a great TV, the cheapest flight to France, or even information about our own health. Especially when we’re sick, we’d rather not wait for an in-person opinion when real-time information can help us self-diagnose.

Unlike broad Google searches or generic WebMD diagnoses, Cue provides up-to-the-minute personal checkups that allow faster, better-informed conversations with your doctor. An added benefit? The tiny, candy-colored pod can be accessed immediately, wherever you are, rather than demanding you spend time in a physician’s waiting room just to be told you do,  or don’t , have the first signs of the flu.

And it’s not just about saving time or instant gratification. Cue is part of a deeper trend in tech moving us toward more frequent remote check-ins on the state of our health rather than the annual or semi-annual in-person checkups —an effort that could eventually reduce healthcare costs, lead to more efficient utilization of resources and keep us healthier.

At $150 a pop, Cue should have many takers when it launches next spring. And while its current promise to recommend foods like kale or Omega-3 rich salmon for sore muscles seems like table stakes in a game where the bet will soon get much higher, the device foreshadows far more important offerings aimed at the health-conscious.

Of course, as we talk Cannes and healthcare, perhaps the biggest thing the device does is lead us to an inevitable discussion of the kind of tech great agencies will seek to build, or build upon, if they’re aiming for a Lion next summer — one they can carry home and place on the bed stand, right next to their Cue.


About the author

This article was syndicated from Contagious Feed, an indispensable resource to the marketing communications industry focusing on competitive intelligence, best practices, new technology and consumer behavior. In addition to the flagship quarterly publication, app and Feed, Contagious has developed a consultancy and a series of world-class conferences, including its annual Most Contagious event.

Nick Childs is the executive creative director for FleishmanHillard, working out of the New York office. He has been with the company since 2011 after a career in advertising that included Grey and other high-profile agencies.