Written by Richard Marcil on March 31, 2015
in Healthcare Marketing, Technology

Wearables certainly haven’t lacked headlines this year, starting with the Consumer Electronics Show in January to Apple’s recent announcement of its Research Kit. But looking beyond the hype, there’s real substance to these devices and the change they’re bringing forth, for pharma marketers, in 2015.

I’m sharing this piece from this month’s Economist titled ‘The Wear, Why And How‘ as it speaks to some of this. There’s no doubt that the consumer health market – and fitness in particular – is one of the earlier adopters of wearables. How many of you have Fitbits, Jawbone Ups, or use your iPhone for step counting?

As technology and sensors improve over the next 12-24 months, data will only get richer and more actionable, and PatientConsumers, HCP’s and providers will all want to tap this data.

Apple introduced the Research Kit just weeks ago, an open-source software to create scientific apps that work with its mobile devices fast, cheaply and robustly. And this is not “future fairy dust” either. Research Kit-developed health apps include:

  • mPower, by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease, which has already become the world’s largest and most comprehensive study of this disease, from symptomology to daily management.
  • Gluco Success, by Massachusetts General Hospital, which seeks to track large pools of T2D patients to understand what combination of real-world physical activity, food intake and glucose values slows disease progression most.
  • Asthma Health, by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which aims to develop algorithms to help patients prevent, detect, and manage asthma exacerbations without emergency room visits.
  • Share the Journey, by Sage Bionetworks, which uses a combination of sensor data from the iPhones and patient surveys to track breast-cancer patient mood, fatigue, exercise and sleep, to understand why some breast cancer survivors recover quicker than others.


And that’s just the beginning. Though there are significant barriers ahead for wearables, from technology robustness to privacy considerations to regulatory infrastructure, there’s no doubt that we, as pharma and disease experts, should also be at the table and not only watch, but lead, the dialogue around wearables and health.

At Ariad, we already see the impact of these technologies in our PatientConsumer work, particularly in PatientConsumer360 sessions. Retailers, payers and non-traditional players/partners like Telus Health are also pushing aggressively here. With 2016 planning happening already on most brands, perhaps it’s time for richer debate about PatientConsumer engagement through technology – before someone else does it.  Welcome to the “quantified future”!

Richard Marcil (@ariadhealthcare) is General Manager, Healthcare at Ariad Communications.

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