A multidimensional approach to health was already gaining considerable momentum prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. From physical fitness, to mental wellbeing, the health tech consumer landscape was evolving and innovating at a steady speed. However, what was previously modest growth in health tech adoption has since spiked rapidly due to the pandemic. According to a study by Deloitte, due to increased engagement in healthcare and health tech, 77% of consumers now believe that tracking their health changes their behavior. MobiHealthNews speaks to Ilya Kravtsov, CEO and co-founder of PouchPASS. PouchPASS was developed in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a health tech wrist wearable and companion app, designed to monitor individual and group temperatures, aiding organisations in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Q. Could you explain the positive economic impact of wider consumer engagement in health tech?
The purpose of technology is to solve pain points and this is applicable to any industry. We can assume that the positive economic impact is a consequence of solving the pain points at a wider scale. In order to achieve this wider scale, consumer engagement is essential (a telephone would not generate a positive economic impact if there would be only 1 user using it). Health tech is a generic term, however, I would define it as access to health-related information that could eventually save lives. Examples could include access to doctors from remote locations for places like Indonesia where there are very few of them (per capita), access to a large amount of data to study patterns of certain diseases, and so on. So the impact is definitely there if we consider those examples, is it economic impact though? If we consider that there is a direct correlation between the reduction of system inefficiencies and positive economic impact then I would assume this qualifies also as a positive economic impact.
Q. How are individuals benefiting from increased engagement with their own personal health and wellbeing through consumer habits?
I believe individuals know very little about themselves and about their personal health. So the increased engagement through consumer habits is there to remind and educate them about things to which before they might have given little importance. Knowing how many steps you do a day was never relevant before, however, knowing that you move very little does educate you and pushes you to take action. So the benefit is the action taken as a consequence of increased engagement.
Q. How can consumers be and stay aware of the pitfalls of health tech?
I would say like in any other case. Before somebody buys a product at the supermarket often people want to know where it comes from and what were the methods to produce it. If I want to eat organic food only I would avoid anything which is not. The same is applicable for health tech products, research, and educating yourself (reading terms and conditions) is important to avoid pitfalls and/ or misunderstandings.
Q. What is the importance of robust privacy regulations surrounding health tech, designed to protect the user?
Privacy is very important. Protocols and standards must be followed. I can say, even more, there are technologies now at our disposal that can guarantee unprecedented levels of privacy. I am referring more to decentralised systems based on blockchain. Again obviously here people would argue the contrary as well that too private is also not good as it leads to things like money laundering using cryptocurrency etc. So, a balance has to be achieved - but the technology nowadays allows both ends.
Q. Would you like to impart any health tech predictions for 2021?
I believe that the world was truly unprepared for this pandemic that hit us very hard and took so many lives. Moving forward, things like digital health identity will become more and more important. I would call it your health passport that will act as a normal passport to identify who you are and if you constitute a risk for others or if you require a special visa ("vaccination"), the same will apply here and health tech will play a role in it.