My colleagues Alessia Stewart, Paul-Julien Giraud, and I embarked on a journey two months ago to understand how connected devices can support the delivery of healthcare. We thought connected devices would be helpful in informing diagnoses, monitoring, ensuring compliance of treatment plans, and running clinical trials. We’re building a body of research, but we’ve decided to share a few things along the way.

The potential for technology to help consumers exists, but connected devices face tremendous headwinds before they will impact healthcare and wellness at scale. Clear and identified headwinds include:

  1. Cost of the devices
  2. Usability (i.e., can consumers collect data doctors will trust?)
  3. Consumer motivation (today, healthy athletes own the majority of smart watches — see report)
  4. Doctors’ interest and ability to use the data as well as concerns about liability
  5. Reimbursement models
  6. Healthcare task flows (i.e., how to embed the devices, data, or insights into processes)
  7. Accessibility (i.e., can those most in need use the devices easily?)

On August 28, we spoke with Mathieu Letombe, the CEO of Withings, about the company’s remote monitoring devices. Withings has a range of connected health monitoring devices, which includes Move ECG, “the world’s first analog watch with a built-in electrocardiogram”; blood pressure monitors like BPM Connect and BPM Core; Steel HR, a watch that tracks heart rate, daily activity, and sleep monitoring, with a battery life of up to 25 days; and Thermo, a no-contact thermometer that syncs with an app to track temperature readings, set reminders, and input related symptoms and medications.

Withings’ current product range is focused on preventing or monitoring chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

What makes Withings interesting?

  1. Focuses on collecting medically validated data that health professionals can act on
  2. Understands that it can be intimidating to have direct access to health data and scary if you interpret certain measurements out of context. Withings recruited a psychologist and medical professionals to learn what users are interested in and comfortable seeing as raw data and what might be better displayed as a trend over time.
  3. Withings’ products have positive insights as reminders. Instead of a notification that says “You haven’t weighed in for a week,” it might say “The morning is a good time to check your weight.”

How has Withings tackled usability?

  • Intentionally made the unboxing process as easy as possible to reduce the initial technological barrier that users encounter
  • All Withings devices have a screen to help the user understand what happens with each measurement.
  • Simplified error codes and incorporated a real-time representation of what’s happening. For example, the device will tell the user if they’re moving too much to get an accurate reading, and the display will look noisier to reflect their movement.
  • Seamless integration or transmission of data from its connected devices to health platforms such as Apple Health and its own app. Mathieu shared some very compelling data illustrating how effective the services are at keeping customers engaged.

Please stay tuned for more content from this research stream. And if you have read about, used, or know about a device we should include in our research, please let us know. We’d love to include more devices in our research.