Laurie Orlov: mHealth Mania – beware the hype

Aging in Place Technology Watch

Laurie Orlov, founder of the market research firm “Aging in Place Technology Watch”, warns against believing the hype, hope and crowd testing of health tech.

My thoughts:

mHealth’s — is it a teaspoon to stem the tide of healthcare spending?

I find it fascinating that anyone can write on a website comparing to a teaspoon the healthcare opportunities arising from the first ever connected device that nearly all of us are already carrying.

Perhaps Laurie is unaware that Wallgreen’s new mobile business unit is already larger than it’s 10 year old online business? (Wallgreen’s is the largest drug retailing chain in the United States).

Perhaps Laurie is unaware of the success story that Kaiser have on their hands as a result of their Mobile First strategy (in case you think these are services just used by young patients it’s worth noting that of patients in the 60-69 years age group over 60% use KP’s online services).

and at the same time so climb market expectations and a boatload of silly stuff – like this latest — crowd-testing of mHealth apps. Don’t you love it? Crowd testing for what flaws may be present in my step or calorie counting app of choice? What if 10 people test — do we still release? But maybe low-cost or no-cost testing is the way to go. So many apps for wellness! What’s a person to think who wants to be well and healthy or maybe an under-35-year-old tech wannabe who wants to be wealthy by getting some wellness crowd-sourced app funding?

For anyone interested in the near term mHealth opportunity for seniors please don’t pay too much attention to smartphone apps. Instead check out innovations like mobile connected smoke alarms:

Samsung Galaxy Tab Mobile Connected Smoke Alarm Demo

Mobile connected Care Monitors:

Samsung Galaxy Tab Sencit App

Easy to use Mobile phones that are designed to meet the needs of seniors:


The Digital Health reality check, please. Ever flexible, Pew’s latest study refers to tracking one’s own health data as Digital Health (hold the wireless, m, and tele). Many do track their health data today, it turns out, but they’re just not, per Pew, uploading and analyzing the results. Only 20% are using any technology (the rest track on paper or in their heads). Maybe they are worried about their employers — or Chinese hackers — reading their data without their knowledge

Or maybe Pew’s researchers just don’t appreciate that many people don’t consider how we are inadvertently using mobile technologies to track and share health information because we are not doing it for specific health reasons.

But if a tree (or a Fitbit) falls in the forest, is anyone there to hear the results? And if a Fitbit wearer falls in the forest, will anyone know? Sadly, even though it has built in motion detection, if in the forest, bring your phone — there are no real-time alerts. And the current version is rightly not quite ready for broad deployment in senior housing. And the manufacturer clearly does not see seniors as a viable market. Too bad, it and other such devices could be great for inactivity monitoring

Interesting to have the value of activity monitors considered in an article about the hype of mHealth. Perhaps Laurie doesn’t know that there are millions of senior citizens using mobile phone based activity apps on their mobiles outside the USA eg. Japan’s Raku Raku easy to use mobiles have had this as a native feature (and more eg. pulse monitor) for years:


Hold the hype — we need to have our market heads examined. Remembering many hype cycles, to quote a Gartnerism: beyond the hype, some sensible and helpful tech solutions do emerge. We must wonder, though, with those deployment statistics about the long-suffering remote patient monitoring-aka-telehealth industry, now mobilized by mHealth mania, what is the business model that will work? In the meantime, the Pew report should help bring folks back to earth — if only 20% are tracking their health using any technology at all, then we are at square one of the evolution of this market — and hype has yet to make Digital Health tracking happen

Digital Health Tracking sounds to me like something involving latex gloves but I disagree with the findings of this piece of research from Pew and I think these are obvious when you consider the diagnostic value of mobile phone photos that have been shared socially on Facebook.

What do you think?

About David Doherty
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Laurie Orlov: mHealth Mania – beware the hype

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s