Meaningful health coaching needs clinical expertise
Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes
To make consumer health data meaningful, it needs to be interpreted with clinical and scientific expertise. Only then can it have the potential to improve health outcomes.
It’s hard to imagine a time when you weren’t collecting data about yourself and the things you do each day. From where you go to how many calories you consume – there really is no end to the type and amount of data that you can now gather about yourself.
This is also true when it comes to your health and well-being. Electronic wearable devices and connected apps can make you so much more aware of aspects of your health and lifestyle, which is so important in your overall consumer health. And it’s clear that our appetite for digital heath technology is strong – and growing. In the US alone, wearable use jumped from 9% to 33% between 2014 to 2018, with consumer use of mobile and tablet health apps tripling from 16% to 48% during the same period. But data is only meaningful if we create something meaningful from it.
Clinical interpretation and advice
I believe that for consumer health data to be meaningful, it needs to be interpreted with clinical and scientific expertise. Only then can it be used to create valuable personalized health recommendations that encourage us to make better decisions and coach us to change and improve our behaviors. This process has the power to not only improve our health but our overall health journey – this is where the real impact and meaning of consumer health data can be realized. Research presented in Deloitte’s 2018 Health Care Consumer Survey agrees with this thinking: “The number of digital tools and apps available for health care and health coaching is increasing significantly … These tools have the potential to improve health outcomes through faster diagnosis, 24/7 access to health coaching, and the ability to recognize mood and lifestyle changes that could affect adherence to a treatment plan.”
At Philips, the advice we provide through our digital coaching solutions is always backed up with scientific knowledge and clinical advice, which means our guidance and support can be trusted. Our Smart Shaver series 7000 and connected app, for example, has been co-developed with dermatologists and designed especially for sensitive skin. Making use of an algorithm, we have created a sensor that is able to recognize skin specificities. The sensor has been built into the shaver, which now results in the best shaving experience as the device recommends a personalized shaving plan that reduces the chance of developing redness, irritation, pain and skin conditions.
Providing guidance when it’s needed most
Digital health tools can also make health coaching more accessible and personalized at times in our lives when we or our loved ones are looking for dedicated support and advice the most – for example, during pregnancy. Our Pregnancy+ App, which is used by four million women across the world, provides advice throughout pregnancy, with options for users to log medical and personal notes and keep tabs on their medical visits, helping them stay healthy.
Importance of privacy and security
Combining digital health data with clinically-underpinned health advice has the power to truly empower us to self-manage existing conditions and prevent new ones from developing. While it is exciting that analyzing health data can provide us with insights that can help us solve problems faster and ultimately create a healthier world, on an individual consumer level, we are very much committed to people’s right to privacy and the protection of their data. This is something I am often asked about and that we take very seriously at Philips. We handle all personal data with integrity, in compliance with all applicable privacy regulations of the countries in which we operate and we ensure the security of data entrusted to us. We believe it is very important that it is the consumer that remains in control of his or her data.
Future gazing: human input
So, just how far will digital health coaching progress? In my opinion, expert involvement will ultimately be needed to put decision-making data support for a health scenario in the right context. The benefits and opportunities that come from more data and AI-driven consumer health insights are very significant. The journey is just starting and we’re all learning more every day.
By continuing to empower people to play a more active role in managing their own health, supported by the best clinical advice and better ways to connect consumer health data with healthcare professionals, we can encourage and drive more preventative, personalized care and even start to bridge healthcare accessibility gaps. This can only be a good thing for us all and for the future of health systems everywhere.
Roy Jakobs is Executive Vice President and Chief Business Leader for the Personal Health Businesses of Royal Philips, effective October 1, 2018. He is also member of the Executive Committee of Royal Philips. The Personal Health businesses comprise Beauty, Male Grooming, Domestic Appliances, Oral Healthcare and Mother & Child Care.