The holidays wreak havoc on our bodies, with their mandatory over-indulgence in food as well as family and reminiscences. As we reflect on the year past — its victories and losses — we also begin looking ahead to the next, and in big ways or small, making plans to keep our momentum going.
For many, this involves taking health more seriously, whether it’s losing a few pounds, training for that first marathon, or just being more active. In turn, there’s been a lot of activity in the health space over the last year, as we’ve seen a number of apps and startups launch — or continue iterating — in the quest to help us make healthier choices, get in shape and conquer the world.
The health space is always in a state of transformation, but its evolution has accelerated of late, and technology is playing an increasingly vital role in this development. Improvements in sensor technology (and a reduction in the cost of production) have led to a boom in the popularity of health monitoring and tracking devices, which itself is becoming a crowded market.
Increased government involvement in health insurance and delivery (via ObamaCare), mobile technology, next-gen networks, Big Data and analytics are all having a disruptive effect on the industry. Business models have begun to change, becoming more patient-centric and outcome-focused, as risk shifts to providers.
Meanwhile, healthcare IT has been slowly moving to the cloud and upgrading its architecture to allow for more flexibility, as social tools, mobility, broadband access and wireless tech have given rise to the “health care everywhere” imperative and opened the door for greater transparency and visibility into healthcare costs. In spite of some doom and gloom from investors and the intimidating prospect of changing old, inculcated consumer (ahem, patient) behaviors, startups are still moving to take advantage.
In fact, for Quantified Self devotees, data-vores and the fitness conscious it’s a great time to be alive. Wearable health-tracking devices and health information and networking platforms are maturing, as is the technology that makes them tick, and it won’t be long before doctors are prescribing mobile health apps and devices. The FDA’s recent approval of AliveCor’s iPhone-based heart monitor is just one great example of how much there is to be excited about at the intersection of technology and health.
And for startups, there’s a lot to be excited about when deciding to build a business in this space, thanks in part to the continuing development of health-focused accelerators over the last year. Rock Health, for example, added clout and support from Kleiner and Kaiser, among others. A number of new accelerators hit the scene or turned into legitimate resources in 2012, including Startup Health, Healthbox, DreamIt Health, NY Digital Health Accelerator andBlueprint Health — to name a few. Hey, even Nike has decided to invest in the New Game.
Nonetheless, with all the excitement in the space, it can be tough to cut through the noise, keep tabs on all the options and figure out which apps and startups should matter for you. Everyone has their own individual agenda, but collectively we’re all bound to be making a few health-related resolutions in preparation for 2013 and beyond.
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