Startup City Magazine

Using Technology to Transform Healthy Living

By Nikhil Moorjani, Director-Marketing, HealthifyMe

Nikhil Moorjani, Director-Marketing, HealthifyMe

Headquartered in Bengaluru, the entity uses a combination of cloud-powered software (Smartphone application), hardware (wearable devices) & human assistance (nutritionists, trainers & yoga instructors) to help people reach their fitness goals.

Its 7am on a Friday morning, my phone tells me that I had a restful sleep for the most part. I have 45 minutes to squeeze in a workout before I have to head out for a business meeting. I consult my personal fitness coach for suggestions. He recommends a 15-minute workout using my own body weight as resistance. I finish my workout, shower, and whip up an easy and nutritious oats smoothie bowl for breakfast based on the diet plan and recipe my personal nutritionist has customized for me. With 15 minutes to spare, I decide to walk to my meeting 2km away, clocking in some steps on my pedometer for the day.

Technology has become a part of our lives in ways we would have never dreamt of 10 years ago. Today, one can measure almost accurately the calories consumed and burned, the quality of sleep and nutrition, biometric data and even environmental parameters on a minute-by-minute basis – parameters that only professionals with the aid of clinical tools could take, that too at prohibitive costs. Particularly in the field of personal health and wellness, the quantity, quality and accessibility of tools at our disposal is ever-expanding. You can order medication, book consultations, and access medical records all at the tap of a button on your personal device or your mobile phone. Convenient? Yes. But that isn’t the end game.

Ultimately these tools, apps and devices are means to systematically logging otherwise unstructured data around one’s lifestyle, the ‘Quantified Self”. Add a gamified layer to the tool and it immediately appeals to the natural human tendency to compete, giving them a reason to engage with these tools regularly. The real value comes much after, in the form of data. It’s how products use data to provide meaningful insights back to the user is the real game-changer.

Technology has enabled businesses to use data to market and sell products and services to you by observing your behavior to determine what you might need or want. In the personal health space, the utility value of this data goes a step further, in potentially pre-empting lifestyle risks to managing your entire health eco-system. A nutritionist can tell what is hindering your weight loss goal, by understanding your diet and activity patterns. Sleep that is lacking in both quantity and quality is revealing of deeper psycho-physiological imbalances. Combine that with genetic predisposition and environmental factors, and it can raise some pretty accurate alarms well ahead, allowing you to take precautionary and preventive measures where necessary.

At the end of the day, make no mistake that technology in personal health is but a tool. It puts the power in the hands of a consumer to decide what is best for him or her. In adapting to busy, urban lifestyles, we have lost the time, motivation and even ability to tune into our minds and bodies to understand what it needs and what in our daily life are working against it. These tools are designed to empower ourselves to take better lifestyle decisions. It gives us a reason to stop binging on that birthday cake, stop short of lighting up yet another cigarette, take the stairs instead of the lift and visit our dentist regularly. It removes the excuses we create for ourselves and motivates us through the tough times, hoping this becomes a habit eventually.

Habits and behaviors take time to build, and in today’s on-demand economy, isn’t the most compelling of value propositions for healthcare startups to make. With our lives quickly becoming more and more effortless due to newer technology enabled solutions, we are constantly trying to find new ways to fit more of what we want into our day without actually having to do anything. The message on being mindful about healthy living is something that needs to permeate multiple media - from the kind of foods our supermarkets carry on the top shelf to the culture at workplaces.

It is forecasted that every second Indian is expected to own a smartphone very soon. While access to smartphone and data is becoming easier, cost of healthcare is still rising across the globe. Asia in general, is also a more touch-and-feel economy than the U.S., their comfort levels are directly proportional to the quantity and quality of human interaction they derive from the product or service. However, the same can be strength if tapped on in the right way, while using technology as a conduit. Technology continues to empower us to better track, manage and improve our health, live better and more productive lives.

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