Issue link: http://magazine.progressivegrocer.com/i/723369
September 2016 | progressivegrocer.com | 149 Price points range from $39.99 for a wireless blood pressure monitor to $249.95 for Quell. e real growth potential is from the health care provider community, according to digital health suppliers. Once data sharing and individual health care management take off on the professional side, they could spill over into retail, with loyalty rewards and other incentives for those who track and are engaged in their health, some speculate.. "I see it all [medical and retail] as complimen- tary," asserts Steve Monnier, VP sales and market- ing at iHealth Labs, in Mountain View, Calif. "It's about awareness and validation." Companies like iHealth provide a full range of devices to capture health measurements that doctors need to manage patients' medical conditions. e company's newest products are the wireless View wrist blood pressure monitor (SRP $99.99) that adds a display for offline or online tracking, and a swimming activity tracker, Wave, priced at $79. Other devices coming on the market that are geared to health care providers and their patients include a spirometer that measures air flow; iHealth Rhythm, a wearable ECG monitor; and iHealth CardioLab, a diagnostic system that calculates several markers for early detection of cardiovas- cular disease. All of these tests can be carried out remotely at home as part of telemedicine. "e ability to seamlessly tabulate and transfer data between devices and applications and caregiv- ers simply did not exist even a few years ago, and it has dramatically changed the way people can now manage their own health care," says Mei-Mei Stark, director of consumer health marketing for A&D Medical, based in San Jose, Calif. A&D has designed a WellessConnected platform that allows end users to pull together the biometric data they collect with A&D devices in one place, as well as to use partner devices to pull in activity-tracking and blood glucose level data. "Much of our strategy is grounded in the ability for retailers to promote and merchandise an ecosys- tem consisting of multiple devices all connected to a single mobile app," explains Stark. Containing Costs Driving the advanced technology is an out-of-con- trol health care system, notes IHS' Roashan. U.S. health care costs rose to $3 trillion in 2014, 17.5 percent of gross domestic spending, accord- ing to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Increases in chronic diseases, an aging population and more insured people are a few of the reasons for the soaring costs. As health care providers are pressured to get their costs under control, the focus is shifting to individualized health care and prevention in which quality biometrics become essential. As far as consumer demand for mobile health devices, according to iHealth's Monnier, the indus- try has reached middle ground after early adopters. "We haven't seen a huge influx of adoptees across the board." One retail pharmacist, who works in a low- income area, agrees. "I don't see it being much of an impact," she notes. "I can barely get patients to commit to signing up for text messages to remind them to pick up their medications." at is expected to change in the next several years, however, as the health care industry begins using health data from health-monitoring devices to improve patients' well-being and outcomes, thereby lowering costs. PG loMT's Drive to Health All big health-device companies are scram- bling to form partnerships to find the best health care solutions among the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Ultimately, as technology increasingly pushes the boundaries of health care, devices could eventually go away, according to some prognosticators. One trend is a consolidation of several tracking devices into one multifunctional device. Chicago-based IRI reports that sales of blood pressure kits grew 3.4 percent to $212.2 million and glucose meter sales slipped.35 percent to $292.8 million across all food, drug and mass channels for the 52-week period ending March 20. A look at newly released or about-to-be-released blood glucose and blood pressure meters from two top-selling brands indicates the current direction of the health monitor device industry. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Om- ron Healthcare, the Kyoto, Japan-based company that intro- duced the first digital home blood pressure monitor 50 years ago, introduced the Project Zero line of wrist and upper-arm blood pressure monitors. The medical-grade devices do more than track blood pres- sure: The wrist monitor, which looks like a smartwatch, provides physical activity and sleep data in real time, while the arm moni- tor tracks hypertension levels and detects irregular heartbeats. Omron has also released the Connect app to work seamlessly with Bluetooth smart monitors and enable easy data transfer to health care providers. Milpitas, Calif.-based LifeScan, a Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Cos. brand, has released its Onetouch Verio Flex blood glu- cose monitor (SRP $19.99), with ColorSure technology designed to easily convey blood sugar results. The device works with Blue- tooth and connects with the OneTouch Reveal mobile app. LifeScan is also collaborating with WellDoc, a Baltimore-based digital health company, to integrate its new device with Well- Doc's BlueStar product, the first FDA-cleared digital therapeutic for adults with type 2 diabetes. The integration would provide patients with additional smart monitoring tools and real-time motivational, behavioral and education coaching.