Apple Watch Users Can Now Get Rewards for Going to the Gym

For years Apple Watch customers have been walking and running to meet step counts just for the satisfaction of meeting their goals. Now Apple is upping the ante with a new rewards program called Apple Watch Connected.

Apple GymKit

Apple Watch Connected will allow any fitness entity to integrate with the Apple Watch so members can track their health and earn rewards such as gift cards and discounts.To participate in the program, gyms must have equipment enabled with GymKit, a platform that lets users sync their Watch to cardio machines and collect their workout data. GymKit first launched two years ago, and since then Apple has worked with manufacturers like Technogym, Life Fitness, and Octane Fitness to incorporate hardware and GymFit code into their treadmills, stair climbers, and other equipment. It works like this: Users can scan their watch against an NFC reader on a piece of equipment anytime during their workout to capture their progress and send it to their Watch. It’s particularly useful for garnering metrics the Watch might have a hard time calculating on its own, like how many steps were taken on a stair climber, for example, where a person stays static in space.

The Apple Watch Connected platform pulls in the data from GymKit and pipes it into the fitness brand’s Watch and iPhone app, where members can then view and plan their workout schedule.  Through the Apple Watch Connected integration, fitness studios will also be able to offer prizes based on member activity. Since Apple Watch can give studios insight into how active its members are wherever they are, the programs launching today will give out points to members whether they go for a run outside or do yoga in the studio (as long as they get their heart rate up).
Each reward program is designed by the fitness brand. At Crunch Fitness, for example, goals are set each week and members can earn credits toward their membership—as much as $15 a month. The new program will start at 17 locations with plans to encompass all 350 locations nationwide by the end of the year. Going forward, Crunch Fitness will only purchase new cardio equipment that has GymKit as part of its offering, so that eventually all of its cardio equipment has that feature.

Gyms do not have to pay to join Apple Watch Connected. Apple says it is primarily interested in helping its users be active. But there may be another incentive for the company–fitness centers that hook into Apple Watch Connected must accept Apple Pay at their studios to participate. Having Apple Pay accepted at more fitness studios gives Apple more opportunity to cash in on transaction fees, a growing source of revenue for the company.

Why It’s Hot

Apple Watch Connected will help motivate gyms to integrate GymKit, making Apple Watch significantly more useful and accurate for gym goers.

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Planned parenthood launches tool to help navigate state abortion laws

Planned Parenthood recently launched an Abortion Care Finder tool, which provides those seeking abortions with location-specific information relating to laws and regulations, nearby health centers and different medical options. It was designed in-house by Planned Parenthood’s Digital Products Lab after the team noticed an increase in searches on its website that were variants of “abortions near me.”

When a user inputs their age, location, and length of their pregnancy, the digital portal will allow them to locate the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic, and tell them whether in-clinic procedures or abortions via medication are available. The Care Finder will also update its information when states pass new laws.

If the nearest Planned Parenthood is more than 60 miles away, the tool refers users to a map created by the National Abortion Federation that includes independent providers. Though it offers more expansive results and describes abortion laws by state in greater detail, that organization’s map does not give customized results based on personal details or exact location.

The biggest barrier to creation was, and still is navigating the ever-changing state laws, which can be hard to parse. For example, in the first half of 2019 alone, states enacted 58 restrictive laws governing abortions.

Why it’s hot:
It’s simple. They built something based on need, not just because they wanted to ‘building something cool.’

“Alexa, am I having a heart attack?”

Almost 500,000 Americans die each year from cardiac arrest, but now an unlikely new tool may help cut that number. Researchers at the University of Washington have figured out how to turn a smart speaker into a cardiac monitoring system. That’s right, in the not-too-distant future you may be able to ask Siri if you’re having a heart attack—even if you’re not touching the device.

Because smart speakers are always passively listening, anticipating being called into action with a “Hey Google” or “Alexa!” they are the perfect device for listening for changes in breathing. So if someone starts gasping and making so-called “agonal breathing” (add that to your Scrabble repertoire) the smart speaker can call for help. Agonal breathing is described by co-author Dr. Jacob Sunshine as “a sort of a guttural gasping noise” that is so unique to cardiac arrest that it makes “a good audio biomarker.” According to a press release, about 50% of people who experience cardiac arrest have agonal breathing and since Alexa and Google are always listening, they can be taught to monitor for its distinctive sound.

On average, the proof-of-concept tool detected agonal breathing events 97% of the time from up to 20 feet (or 6 meters) away. The findings were published today in npj Digital Medicine. Why is it so good at detecting agonal breathing? Because the team created it using a dataset of agonal breathing captured from real 911 calls.

“A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota. “We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. And then if there’s no response, the device can automatically call 911.”

Why It’s Hot

Despite the rather creepy notion that Amazon is always listening, this innovation is rather cool. What other kinds of health issues could this predict? As a parent, having a speaker able to predict whether a cough is run-of-the-mill or of the scary croup variety would be invaluable. For health events that need an aural translation, this is one application in the right direction.

Source:Fast Company

a glimpse at your food future via Nestle…

A kit for Nestle Japan’s nutritional drink. Photographer: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg

Nestle is taking an innovative approach to product development, starting with the Japan market.

According to Quartz News – “Some 100,000 people are taking part in a company program there that gives consumers a kit to collect their DNA at home. The program also encourages them to use an app to post pictures of what they’re eating. Nestlé then recommends dietary changes and supplies specialized supplements that can be sprinkled on or mixed into a variety of food products, including teas.”

Ultimately, the goal for Nestle actually goes beyond this, to creating completely individualized products based on individuals’ DNA that could even be designed to prevent serious diseases like cancer. Quartz’s crude example is “Pizzas that can ward off Alzheimer’s disease, for instance”.

One nutritional scientist says, “This is going to be the manifestation of the future. The one-size-fits-all platform is a thing of the past.”

Why it’s hot:

First, as the largest food company in the world, Nestle could be leading the way into a new era of food production – one that’s almost completely the opposite of its heritage over the last few decades. But most importantly, it’s another example of the shift we’re finally seeing from mass production to ultra-personalized products. While using DNA as the mechanism is not without concerns, what better experience than having food and supplements created for you based on what your body needs to keep you at peak health.

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stay perfectly hydrated with gatorade gx…

Gatorade introduced a prototype product it’s calling “Gatorade Gx”. It’s a combination of a patch you wear while working out, training, or whatever you call your physical/athletic activity, and a connected water bottle. It basically monitors how you’re sweating as you train, “capturing fluid, electrolyte, and sodium loss”.  Based on this, it lets you know when you should drink more, and if what you should drink is something specific based on your unique needs. That something specific being a “Pod” that has certain formula of electrolytes or nutrients you are losing as you sweat (your “electrolyte and carbohydrate needs”).

Why it’s hot:

As we see more uses of technologies like AI, biometrics, and connected sensors, products and services are becoming ultra personal. This is a personal hydration coach, filling a knowledge gap that otherwise only cues from your body might indicate you need. We should be keeping an eye on how brands are taking the old idea of “personalization” to its truest form, creating new ways to give them more than just a basic product or service.

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Dr. AI Helps Patients Gain Access to Clinical Expertise About Their Condition

According to an article from Access AI, HealthTap is introducing an artificial intelligence engine to triage cases automatically. Doctor A.I., is a personal AI-powered physician that provides patient with doctor recommended insights.

More than a billion people search the web for health information each year, with approximately 10 billion symptom related searches on Google alone. While many resources provide useful information, web search results can only provide content semantically related to symptoms. The new function from HealthTap aims to incorporate context and clinical expertise of doctors who have helped triage hundreds of millions of patients worldwide to provide the most effective course of treatment. Dr.A.I. uses HealthTap’s Health Operating System to analyse user’s current symptoms and cross checks this with the data provided from the personal health record they have created. Based on solutions that it has uncovered from its data, Dr.A.I. will tailor pathways ranging from suggesting the patient reads relevant doctor insights and content, to connecting the patient with a doctor for a live virtual consult, or from scheduling an in-person office visit with the right specialist, all the way to directing the patient to more urgent care, based on the patient’s symptoms and characteristics.

Why It’s Hot

At first glance, the apps looks like WebMD. Patients input their symptoms using a visual interface and the app spits back a diagnosis. Where this app differs though in the level of personalized recommendations that follow the diagnosis.

Through our SENSE and Journey Mapping work across our pharma clients, we know that patients are consulting Dr. Google both before and after they are diagnosed with a condition and prescribed a treatment where they are exposed to virtually limitless information about the condition and drug they’ve been prescribed from all kinds of sources, whether they have clinical expertise or not. In some severe cases, this can even stop patients from filling that prescription and taking the drug do to fear of side effects, intimating costs of the drug/lack of coverage, anxiety around administering the drug and on top of all that, apprehension that this is the correct treatment for them. Dr. AI has the potential circumvent a lot of that behavior by providing clinical expertise about the condition using the same deductive approach as HCP’s in a patient-focused interface.

Headphones Up, Calories Down…


(start at 0:23, you can get the basic idea by about 0:45)

I think we can all agree that sugar is evil. Particularly in this country, sugar consumption has become a major source of serious weight and health issues plaguing many. And as our esteemed colleagues Karan and Liz shared with me yesterday, apparently even when you try other sweeteners to avoid it, the alternative is cancer. So, how can we get our sweet fix without risking some massive health related life event?

Rest easy, because based on University of Oxford research, Xin Cafe in China has created “Sonic Sweetener”. According to science, listening to certain sounds makes our brain think what we’re consuming is sweeter than it actually is. So, Xin Cafe worked with sound designers to create a cup with a headphone jack that plays the right notes while you’re drinking your beverage to make it seem as though you’re imbibing something sweet when you’re actually not (try out the miracle soundtrack for yourself here).

Why it’s hot

First of all, I’m impressed at such a seemingly lo-fi “tech” solution to a very serious, widespread problem. Sometimes it doesn’t take a massive innovation to meaningfully change the way we experience things in life. And obviously it’s one of the latest examples in what will be many many years of technology (some more progressive, some less) filling in the gaps where our humanity can fail us. Self-control is a great quality, but not one that’s always easily applied. What other human shortcomings could sound (or any other) technology help us with?

Interoperability? THE weak link in the ever-changing healthcare system.

HS Why connected health 10.15

In a recent article in Medical Economics, Edward Gold, MD, makes a compelling argument and call-to-action on one of the most complex demands of the Affordable Care Act: Interoperability. A topic with enormous impact, but little discussed.

Simply put it means every Electronic Health Record, every doctor’s office, every surgery center, every patient App, all have to be sharing data and centralizing it for the better care and healthier outcomes for patients. Cost control is a big part of this, too. But the bottom line is cost control comes from coordinated, proactive care and an engaged patient. What is difficult is that so much venture money and rush to install non-compatible systems have been done over the past 5 years and wasted billions of dollars. As Dr. gold puts it: “I don’t think we’re more interoperable than we were three or four years ago,” he says. He still can’t exchange secure messages with most other doctors, he notes, and a local health information exchange (HIE) initiative has come to naught so far.

HS Interoperabiloity 10.15 cost issues

A 2014 study published in Health Affairs found that health information exchange was still quite low, despite the rapid increase in the percentages of providers who had adopted EHRs. Only 14% of physicians, for example, shared information with providers outside their organizations in 2014. There are more reasons for this problem than can be counted — half are just sheer human stupidity, poor User Experience and resistance to change, half are that the government was slow to set standards.

Why is this hot? First, because the ACA demands it and the health economics will not show efficiencies and savings without it. Next, comes the patient/doctor relationship; within a year, doctors will be paid for emailing not seeing patients; but if you had a surgery at one hospital, are at home being monitored, and your doctor is in a private practice, as of now, you are afloat in the world of disconnected data. No one is really watching out for you. Email or visit, no one professional is seeing your entire picture.

Many experts say this will work its way out. But will it? Some systems are light years ahead of others; it is almost as if a digital caste system of have and have-nots is being created due to lack of interoperability. We all need to be our advocates for ourselves, parents, children and ask ALL your healthcare providers: how connected are you?