I wrote this article for the Burrill Consumer Digital Health Conference:
Zeo has been asked to present on March 23rd 2010 in San Francisco alongside other innovative companies and thought leaders in the burgeoning new Consumer Digital Health market.
From smart phones to social networks to sensor platforms, a wave of technology innovation is revolutionizing the way that we care for our health. The potential to enhance care has never been more present, but often tantalizingly out of reach. Our formal healthcare institutions are becoming ossified – regulators are wrapped in a legislative bind, payers are cautious about adopting new technologies, and hospitals’ and doctors’ traditional role in the center of the healthcare industry is threatened by new technology that puts the patient in the driver’s seat. As a result, key new advances are moving slowly from the lab bench to patient care.
Contrast the outdated healthcare system with a vibrant market for consumer digital health. In consumer health, new technology and consumer needs are being brought together by a new wave of innovators and entrepreneurs. The barriers to adoption are simpler to understand – usability, value to the customer, awareness – and these barriers are easier to overcome. The friction encountered is that of any new product entering a market – free of artificial friction created by embedded interests, bureaucracy, and regulation. As a result big companies and brands will be built in consumer digital health, and the benefit will extend beyond consumers back into the healthcare system as people take control of their health and wellness.
The world of consumer sleep is particularly ripe for innovation. Over 25% of Americans experience inadequate sleep on a weekly basis. The average time spent in bed is 6.9 hours, which is far less than the 7-9 hours recommended. The result is a chronically sleep deprived population. In addition to fatigue, lack of sleep has recently been linked to virtually all major disease classes, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. We need to take our chronic sleep loss more seriously – and new technology can help us begin to take back control.
The SoftWave sensor technology invented by Zeo allows simple in-home measurement of sleep, including the critical restorative Deep and REM sleep phases. Zeo is revolutionizing the way people sleep by connecting consumers with objective data on their sleep patterns and offering them personal coaching advice to help them make improvements in sleep. Forrester coined the term “healthcare unbound,” described as “Technologies in, on, and around the body that free care from formal institutions.” Zeo is enabling sleep unbound – the ability to measure sleep in the home opens up unlimited possibilities for self-care and behavior change. As Dr. Quanta Ahmed said recently in the Huffington Post, “Products such as the imaginative Zeo will play a key role in raising the national consciousness of a fundamental principle: the more America knows, the better America sleeps.”
Zeo is well positioned to become the consumer health leader in measuring and improving sleep. We believe many of the same factors that make the consumer sleep market so attractive apply broadly across consumer health and wellness. Just witness innovative work by consumer-driven companies such as 23andme for genetic testing, or Nintendo with their Wii Fit products. New technologies are for the first time able to address powerful health and wellness needs. The consumer market lies open… while roadblocks are plenty for patient populations.