My HIMSS Prophecy: Why Should You Skip The Wearable Booths

“You have only walked 1,500 steps today,” the patient’s phone announced. “You have exceeded the number of calories you were supposed to consume today.”

Nonplussed, the emergency room physician began his examination of the patient. “What are all of these things you are wearing?” The physician asked.

“They are my health wearables,” replied the patient. “This is my Apple watch,” beamed the patient as he pointed to his wrist. “And my belt tells me if I am getting fatter.”

“What is the bra for?”

“It is a Smart Bra. It tells me if I am engaging in emotional overeating . But they didn’t design it very well because the psychological sensors chafe me.”

The doc wondered what the else the sensors might be telling the patient. “But you are a guy.”

“That is what my counselor keeps telling me. My shoes track my steps and analyze the genomes from my sweat, and tell me if I am pregnant.”

“You are not pregnant,” the doctor replied. “You are a guy.”

“Never hurts to check,” replied the patient.

“What about your ear buds?”

“The left one analyzes my earwax to see if I am susceptible to extinct strains of Ebola. I’m not sure what the right one does, but it makes Celine Dion sound like she is singing just to me. And that helps me not worry so much about the Ebola.”

“Are you wearing a wig?”

“It’s a SmartWig, loaded with actuators, made from the hairs of free-range, gluten-free feeding yaks—I have always wanted to use the word ‘yaks’ in a blog. And the goggles monitor my brain activity. But they don’t seem to register anything.”

No kidding, thought the doc. “And, what are the Necomimi cat ears for?”

“They alert me about when I am focused on my health; the perk up.”

“And the underwear?”

“They are called Shreddies. They analyze my methane output.”

“So why are you in my ED?”

“Because I don’t feel well.”

“Don’t any of those things you are wearing tell you what is wrong?”

The patient puzzled over the doctor’s question until his puzzler was sore. “I don’t think they do.”

And therein lies the rub. They are all hat and no cowboy.   Tons of data, and no information. Wearables only work if someone can interpret the data they collect. Wearables don’t infer. They do not recommend. They do not tell you to stop whatever you are doing and dial 911. Their only value isn’t much beyond a slight chi-chi factor.

People who buy these do so because they have a keen interest in managing their wellness. They use smart apps for the same reason.

The problem with apps and wearables is that all they do is record numbers, numbers that mean nothing to the person collecting the numbers.

So why do so many people do that? Why are wearables a multi-billion dollar industry? Because people are trying to acquire wellness. Because they want to know they are healthy.

And because they have no other options. They cannot buy a wellness program from their provider, or from their payer, or from their pharmacy.

So as you lay out chum lines as you visit the myriad of wearable exhibitions at HIMSS, hoping to achieve alchemy in your quest for a healthier you, think twice.

Unless of course you are a guy. Because guys will try anything to make them stand out in a crowd. “Those cat ears make you look a lot taller.”

Women know better. They inherently know that most wearables don’t go well with sensible black pumps.



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