2013 year of m-health in Europe


The mobile health wave will wash over the European side of the pond in coming months as first movers dump the junk food

2013 has been proclaimed as the year that the mobile health industry will take off in Europe, following the acceptance of the technology in the North American market.

Developer of mobile health products, Withings, stated at Mobile World Congress that 2013 is set to be the year that mobile health gains traction and goes mainstream in Europe, as consumers look to pre-empt illness and improve fitness levels.

Minh Le, CMO at Withings, noted that mobile health is particularly popular in North America where healthcare is expensive, but that the wave will be washing over the European side of the pond in coming months as first mover end users dump the junk food and look to take health matters into their own hands.

He stated: 'This is the year when the mobile health category will really take off in Europe. I know that health is one of the fastest growing markets for Apple, and we believe 2013 is when this technology will go mainstream. The biggest market for mobile health products overall is North America, and we believe that is paving the way for something super big this year.'

The US has been the natural home of mobile health due to the need for consumers to pay for health care, explained Le. 'We in Europe take it for granted that going to see the doctor is free, whereas in the US it costs a fortune. People are therefore taking preventative measures, for instance tracking their blood pressure and sending a report document to the doctors so he can tell them if they need to come in. This is now feeding over to Europe, where more techie customers are moving first.'

Mobile health products have a direct influence on user behaviour, claimed Le. He said that research Withings carried out in the UK showed that 92% of customers who bought its connected scale, the Wireless Scale WS-30, changed their behaviour because of the device. The scales can set goals for users' weight, which Le said helps motivate people to keep going.

'The people that are buying connected scales are losing weight,' stated Le. 'They are also keeping their weight levels on a more even keel rather than yo-yoing up and down, compared to those that don't use a connected scale. Here, you measure your weight but the scale isn't your enemy telling you bad news; it's your partner, helping you achieve your goals. It's all part of knowing, of getting something that will help you so you're not alone with your health problems.'

Withings is set to release its new connected scale, the Smart Body Analyser, at the end of March. The device works with both Android and iOS smart devices  to measure weight, BMI, body fat and heart rate, plus CO2 levels in the home. It also has another new product, the Smart Activity Tracker, which is set to be released later this year and that tracks steps taken, stairs climbed, plus calories burned, heart rate and blood pressure.

Le concluded: 'Even people like me who are active are affected by these devices. You change the amount of exercise you are doing each day; I used to catch the elevator to my fifth floor apartment but now I take the stairs because I know my steps are being measured!'


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