How to Sort Through All the Health Tech Hype

Partners Healthcare launches, Wellocracy, a website dedicated to making sense of all your health numbers.


Photo by Scott Lacey

Wearable gadgets have been all the rage for some time, but with more and more people using the items, and more and more gadgets on the ever-expanding market, how do you choose? And more importantly, once you choose, how do you process all the information the gadgets give you?

The Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare, has launched Wellocracy, a clinically-based source of information to help you sort through the “self-health” technologies such as health and fitness trackers and mobile apps. The Center is affiliated with Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

More than 48 percent of Americans report that it’s hard to stay motivated to live a healthy life, and only 22 percent are very confident in their ability to keep track of their own health, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive. “There are dozens of activity and health trackers on the market today, and literally thousands of health apps available for consumers. Yet, instead of getting people moving towards a healthy lifestyle, most feel paralyzed by all these choices and the technology can be dizzying,” said Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, founder and director of the Center for Connected Health. “Wellocracy is focused on inspiring and empowering individuals to self-manage their health and wellness by providing up-to-date information, expert guidance and innovative ideas to help people get the most out of personal health technologies.”

According to the Harris Interactive survey, 65 percent of people surveyed believed that using a health tracking device, website, or app would be beneficial to help them stay motivated to meet health and fitness goals. “We know that if we give people [of all ages] insights into their health and help them understand how lifestyle choices impact quality of life, they feel more accountable, engaged and live a healthier, more active life,” Kvedar says. “Integrating self-health tools like activity and nutrition trackers and sleep monitors into our daily lives, we can learn from our own behaviors and make positive changes to take charge of our health. We’re taking these devices and apps, personalizing the experience and helping people figure out the right health technologies, the right strategy and the right inspiration to get on the right track to health and wellness.”

Here are some interesting numbers from the survey:

  • 86 percent believe that feeling informed about their own health is empowering
  • 55 percent of women and 49 percent of men aged 18 to 44 believe that easy tracking (including physical activity, calories, and sleep) is essential to achieving health-related goals
  • 48 percent of women and 42 percent of men aged 18 to 34 reported that encouragement from family and friends is essential
  • 42 percent of women and only 20 percent of men aged 45 to 54 reported that support and tools from their healthcare provider is essential
  • Only 19 percent of women and 17 percent of men aged 35 to 44, and 25 percent of women and 21 percent of men aged 55 and over are very confident in their ability to keep track of their own health
  • The majority of consumers (56 percent) have never used any type of health tracking device, app or website yet

“There is a huge void in the market today. Easy to use, accurate and effective health and wellness trackers are readily available, yet most consumers are not using them. Wellocracy will fill that void and help individuals select the right health technology best suited to their preferences and goals, and figure out the personal motivation that will keep them on track to best manage their health,” Kvedar says.