E-health vs E-fitness

There is a lot of talk lately on the eHalth movement. Apple introduced HealthKit, Google Fit was announced and it feels like every company with a soldering iron is putting together a wearable. As someone who co-founded a startup for medical instruments and is doing a PhD in medical imaging I figured I would share my two cents. For those that don’t like reading overall I think the movement is positive but perhaps just a bad choice of words. If you like reading then I’ll explain some more below.

As I said I think the movement towards a more active healthy lifestyle is good. If you build a device that makes someone do 1% more exercise I think you’ve won. The problem I see is framing this as the full span of health. Health is much, much bigger than just calories and steps. It would be great if it wasn’t but it is. This on its own isn’t really a big deal. There are strange semantic things used everywhere that don’t reflect their literal meaning. The problem I foresee (and I do hope I’m wrong) is that the public, and the finance providers (VCs, grants etc.) will come to a stage where a product that saves lives is sat next to a pedometer on steroids. “But your magic box will only help what, 10,000 people? Sorry but this flashy step counter will reach millions, the health market isn’t really aligned with your needs right now. Come back when more people are sick.” Now obviously that’s extreme and I don’t think anyone would actually say that but even a few steps in that direction could be harmful.

Again just to be clear I don’t hate eHalth. I bought a fitbit, I use RunKeeper and in the past I have tracked what I eat. Those tools have been useful, some made my do more, others made me eat less. Overall I would say they did make me healthier, but in their own small way. If anyone reading this knows me you will know this is somewhat of a personal worry. Our startup is trying to help improve physiotherapy for people with Cystic Fibrosis. Worldwide there are relatively few people with this condition but in our eyes that doesn’t make it any less important. Sadly not everyone sees it this way, that’s not anyones fault but it is a shame. I put this out there as nothing more than some thoughts. Hopefully though it’s a little step towards understanding.