A new company from Center for Connected Health (CCH) Director Dr. Joseph Kvedar will take a stab at the difficult task of engaging consumers in their own health by studying the missteps of others and attempting to simplify the processes of education and motivation.
Kvedar and business partners, including self-help author Carol Colman and integrative medicine practitioner – and former personal trainer – Dr. Justin Mager, will formally launch the company, called Wellocracy, at the SilversSummit, part of the massive annual Consumer Electronics Show in January. (Update: Kvedar made clear his intention to stay with the CCH, and his formal position at Wellocracy is still to be determined.) Wellocracy is intended to be "a community dedicated to improving the health of regular folks," Kvedar says in an online chat with MobiHealthNews.
"We see the barrage of activity monitors coming on the market, and our hypothesis as to why they are not getting more sustainable traction is that they are complicated to use (and the choice of which one to use is also complicated), that they are thin in overlying motivational components and that folks are busy and intimidated about changing their life around to dedicate time to be more active," Kvedar explains. He says that Wellocracy will "fix all of these things" as well as other problems he expects users to educate the team about.
"The goal of Wellocracy is at once simple and daunting – to get America moving, and to motivate our citizens to move to a healthier state. It turns out that the formula is straightforward: a) track your activity, b) find your individual set of motivational tools and c) find ways to increase your activity without disrupting your life," Kvedar writes on the Center for Connected Health blog.
The launch will involve the unveiling of the Wellocracy website and publication of the first in a planned series of short, "installment-type" e-books, Kvedar says in the online chat. "We will publish a series of e-books and have a resource-rich, community-based website for people to learn about the power of self-tracking, feedback loops, motivational triggers and integrating healthy activities into their lives in ways that are not disruptive to living," he explains.
The first book, which could be online before the end of the year as part of a soft launch, will be called "Move to a Great Body," and will highlight the power of activity tracking to improve health, according to Kvedar. "The books will be linked heavily to the website and the website, in turn, will have lots of both editorial content and user-generated content," he says.
While Wellocracy will debut at the SilversSummit, the company is not necessarily targeted at older people or at people with chronic diseases. "People will have many different motivations to get more active. Some will want to fit into their tight jeans and some will want to lick Type 2 diabetes – and everything in between," Kvedar says. "Our goal is to collect them, educate them, motivate them and have them educate/motivate one another."
He says the relationship between Wellocracy and the Center for Connected Health, part of Harvard-Affiliated Partners HealthCare, is "being worked out." Kvedar helped to found Healthrageous back in 2009, which also spun out of the Center for Connected Health. That company has just brought Partners back on as an investor.