A NEW YEAR INEVITABLY BRINGS WITH IT THE RESOLUTION TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OURSELVES. NOW MORE THAN EVER, TECHNOLOGY PLAYS A ROLE IN THAT STRUGGLE. WANT TO GET IN BETTER SHAPE? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT.
The average American now accesses more than 26 different apps per month, spending well over 37 hours Tweeting, Snapchatting, or crushing candy. But while gaming continues to dominate in terms of market share, health and fitness apps are increasingly well represented.
Some of these are relatively lightweight in nature. Streaks, for instance, is a simple push-button tool for developing new habits. If your goals include trimming down, Streaks integrates with your iOS Health app to automatically track and log, say, how many steps you take each day. Rise is an app that lets you upload photos of your meals and share them with a nutrition “coach” who provides targeted feedback on ways to improve your diet. With some patience and a little discipline, apps like these can move the needle in your battle of the bulge.
But others take a more ambitious approach. Colorado-based DispatchHealth is on a mission to do nothing less than reshape the way patients seek out and receive acute care. Research varies, but it’s generally accepted that more than 30 percent of all emergency room visits are not medical emergencies. One recent study found that Colorado residents spend as much as $800 million per year on unnecessary ER visits. Mark Prather, who founded DispatchHealth along with Kevin Riddleberger, is a veteran ER doctor who saw an opportunity to change that—and in the process, to shift the paradigm in a way that makes health care more consumer-centric.
DispatchHealth developed a website, phone service, and smartphone app to complement their existing relationship with 911 dispatch, which dates back to 2013. Users in need of medical care can tap into DispatchHealth’s growing roster of doctors and nurse practitioners in real time, getting mobile (or virtual) health care in their own home while potentially avoiding thousands of dollars in hospital bills.
“Tech is a big part of what’s enabled this whole idea of taking a portion of the ER and bringing it to you,” said Prather. “That would’ve been pretty difficult 20 years ago, but our lab essentially fits in a small suitcase now, and we’re working on imaging and as much other technology as we can cram into that little vehicle.”
Josh Wills agrees. As Partner and Design Director at Consume + Create, Wills and his team were instrumental in helping DispatchHealth develop not only their collateral materials, website, and app, but also their naming, logo, identity design, and the car wrap that adorns each mobile lab. Wills sees the integration of services like DispatchHealth with other emerging markets like fitness wearables—itself a billion dollar global business—as a golden opportunity.
“With the advancement of wearable technology,” said Wills, “with smartphones getting better, with all our devices being more connected, the potential that technology has to really improve the healthcare and well-being of humans is huge, and in a way that’s kind of automated. And I think that’s where Dispatch is going, and to me I see that as being the bigger potential and promise of this platform and technology.”