Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cycling Power and Social Engagement

I worked with Shapelog CEO Brian Hayden on an article about cycling power meters and how they have enabled new businesses and new ways of social engagement.   Head over to the FIT-C website to check it out.  I hope you find it interesting.

Fitness Club Virtual Classes & Cardio Monitoring

Slowly progressing on this data compilation, amidst many other initiatives.  Spent yesterday evening studying three solutions:

Wexer –  Focused on delivering pre-packaged workouts via video to your club to fill the gaps in your in-studio schedule.  They’ve made several acquisitions, including a mobile app development shop to try to be the “one stop technology shop” for clubs.   In over 4,000 clubs.  No API or 3rd party integrations mentioned.   800+ classes online.

Fitcloudconnect – they take a different approach and make it easy for your club to build your own content / catalog of workouts with the trainers you already employ.  A goal of this is to maintain the brand attribution to your studio, but it grows the offering more slowly and organically.  They mention an API on their website but there are no details on it.

Trainerize – seem to be  more focused on 1-1 trainer-client interactions and smaller facilities.   Lots of emphasis on integration with other apps like MindBody and communication apps like Skype.  They also plug into Zapier, one of the flag bearers of the “citizen integrator/consumer iPaaS” movement.  (If you are in the software business and don’t know what “iPaaS” is, call me.  Seriously.)   A few wearable integrations (Fitbit, Withings) are touted as well.  50K+ trainers on platform.

If you are interested in learning more, I have a much larger, more detailed compilation of information on these and other apps in this space.   And if this stuff interests you and you will be at CES, I’d love to connect in person when I’m there.   Best to message me on LinkedIn.     And I’ll keep adding summary notes here on the blog as I get through more of the solutions.

Fitness Club Cardio and Training Management Software – Part I

I’m in the process of summarizing and reviewing information on group cardio monitoring and training management solutions for fitness clubs.  There are a few particular features and feature categories that I’m focusing on (fitness analytics and integrations / API maturity being two of them) but I’m taking a broad look at them.  Here’s the list of the solutions I’m looking at:

Virtuagym

Accuro

Fitmetrix

Polar Club

Fitconnect

Onefitstop

Wexer

Trainerize

Fitcloudconnect

Pear

Iqniter

Myzone

Heartech

PerformanceIQ

Selfloops

Whew, that’s a longer list than I expected.   This post is just Part I of a multi-part series (how many parts?  I don’t know yet).   Obviously each of these companies comes to the market with a slightly different angle so I’ll be drawing out the differences and similarities.  If you are a club owner and want to dig into more detail on any areas in particular, email me or reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter to learn more.

 

FHIR, Health data APIs, webinar notes

I recently listened to an informative webinar from Mulesoft: Unlocking Electronic Health Records (EHRs) with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).  I learned a lot (and also generated a lot of questions) and thought I’d share a few notes from the webinar.  I had hoped to make this more of a comprehensive review but my notes will have to suffice.  I’ll update this topic with more posts over time as I further synthesize what it all means.

Here’s the link to the webinar:

I’ll skip over the general info material on why APIs are important in modern commerce (surely you already know that part…), and get right to some of the healthcare specific info that caught my attention.

Why has healthcare not seen as much API-driven innovation as other industries?
1. The large number of entrenched EHR and healthcare infotech vendors (over 1200).  That’s a very fragmented market, more than I realized even after working on the fringes of it during my time at Intel (probably because we focused on a dozen big EMR vendors).
2. HL7 Version 2 currently dominates the industry, but under this standard the  data structure & meaning can change for every trading partner relationship, so the opportunity to “code once – connect to many” is missing.
3. HL7 V3 -has been slow to implement  due to complexity.
4. Healthcare systems have traditionally relied on VPN connections for authentication – very non-consumer friendly, and requires custom point to point implementations.  Just as the modern enterprise has become more flexible with cloud services that don’t require VPN, and which are mobile friendly, healthcare will do the same.

2014 JASON report details why a fundamentally different architecture is needed.
– “CCD” – continuity of care documents require it, and
– SSO, authentication, and improved user experience are becoming more important

Environmental changes that make the adoption of a new standard important:
1. Consumer expectations – both in app quality and in the ability of the clinician to utilize all the data available
2.  Transition to value based care, not fee for service, as driven by legislation – here’s a reference on MACRA.

Meaningful Use Stage 3 requirements  are driving greater patient access to data and greater exchange of data, which means APIs will be even more important.

The goal of SMART on FHIR is to allow a developer to write an app once and expect that it will run anywhere in the healthcare ecosystem.  Think of it as an enabling protocol for an “app store” for health apps.

FHIR = Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources – defines resources (e.g., allergies, care plans, medications), exposed as semantic RESTful APIs.   Formalized, computable mechanism for extensability to resources which are not part of the core definition.   Developed by HL7.

SMART = Substitutable Medical Apps and Reusable Technologies –
– OAuth 2.0, based on HTML & other standard, familiar web technologies
From an API management standpoint,  SMART and FHIR are a subset of the overall API management function.
OK that’s enough notes, more synthesis to follow…

A few references:
ICOE Group – API focused consulting group, a Mulesoft partner
Mulesoft – API management and system integration solution, a leader in the market

FIT-C Podcast on APIs in Fitness

After a long hiatus I am back to blogging, here’s a link to my recent podcast with Josh Trent of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FIT-C) of which SYSTEM3 is a member:

I hope you find it informative.

 

Feedback Loops and Fit-Tech Framework

With so many product launches and so much investment activity in the digital health & fitness arena it helps to have a framework for understanding the meaning of it all.  This post is the first in a series in which I’ll share the frameworks I use, with a few notes on some of the companies I see doing really interesting work across the entire ecosystem.

I always start by considering any new product or technology with a behavioral emphasis.  At the end of the day, it’s consumer/patient/athlete behavior that really matters when we talk about improving health, reducing costs, or improving performance.  I have another framework to look at things from a technology stack perspective which I’ll share in the next installment.

I’ve run this simple diagram by countless people, inside and outside the fitness-tech arena, and everyone seems to get it right away, so it’s been useful for me.  It’s simple, and maybe obvious, but I always find it worth stating.

Feedback_Loop

This picture is informed more by my background as a coach, athlete, and lifestyle design enthusiast than by any market study or tech trends.    The Action step is where the rubber meets the road, but it’s hard, complicated, and can take a long time to move the needle.  It’s also influenced by many factors beyond the fitness or health care arena.

A lot has been written about wearables, so I won’t say much about the data collection step.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s really not the things that are interesting but the data they provide and the services they enable.

When I consider Expertise + Analytics box I’m including machines & people.   Some users are curious and enthusiastic enough to dig into physiology and learn how to interpret their own data, but that’s a fraction of the fraction of people who actually keep using their wearables (the percentage may be high, or maybe not), so the emphasis here needs to be on professional service providers of one sort or another.   IBM’s Watson and health focused providers like Vivametrica, and even more niche companies analyzing specific data sets like power data from bicycles are all contributors to the more algorithmic, machine based contribution the to this arena.

Finally, motivation is critical and many social, financial, mental health and other factors play into this.  It’s surely the hardest nut to crack and it’s also where a lot of the personalization of health care comes into play.   Some of the most interesting apps focus in this area so I’ll devote a whole post to this soon.  The opportunity for fitness clubs and other activity-related social groups to contribute here and leverage the technologies already on the market is substantial, and I believe still vastly underutilized.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback via email or the comments section.  Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn to make sure you get all the updates to the blog and subsequent articles in the series.

 

 

It’s All About Who You Know – Recommended Reading

Many years ago as I was transitioning out of the military into civilian life, I worked with a recruiting firm that placed JMO’s (junior military officers) into corporate America.  At one of their career fairs Roger Cameron asked everyone to share their favorite motivational saying and we all went around the room.  You can guess that in a room full of young, ambitious military guys (it was probably a 90% male group) the contributions ranged from inspirational to blustery, some as short as one emphatic syllable .  I hadn’t given the question any real thought and when it came my turn, I reflexively blurted out the ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself“.  It sort of fell flat in that room, like I was answering the wrong question or something.  Twenty plus years later I see the truth revealed in how I answered that question, as self-knowledge has been one of my strengths and great stumbling blocks.  I’m old enough to see the experiences in my life where it’s been one or the other.

With that in mind, my recommended reading for this month is Peter Drucker’s timeless HBR article, Managing Oneself.   At the foundation of managing oneself is knowing oneself, and this article addresses the topic in some specific areas that are important at any stage of life or career.  It’s worth your time to read the article but more importantly, turn it into a homework assignment and write down answers to the questions posed.   I did it about a year ago and I still refer to the notes occasionally to make sure I got it right and that I am working on the right things.

 

 

IoT Applications in Health & Fitness

“When you look at the Internet of Things, the things themselves are not interesting,” said Dave Sobel, director of Community at MAXfocus and a self-professed IoT enthusiast. “We’re all focused on the ‘things,’ but that’s not where the opportunity is.”

That’s a quote from an article on The VAR Guy, and I could not agree more.  The article is interesting on its own (I’ll share some thoughts later on cloud services, IoT, and the channel) and if you are trying to get your hands around IoT and what it means to business, it’s worth a read.  For today I wanted to share a few thoughts that this quote generated in my head.

1. Running shoes – what happens when they are instrumented?  When the data from the shoes (pressure maps, gait data) get integrated with other info (running mileage, terrain)?  Suddenly your running shoe retailer (or your gym, or your coach, or whoever you allow) has tremendous insight into when you need to replace your shoes, what type of shoe will work best for you, muscular imbalances you might need to work on, etc.

2. Gym equipment – Combine a beacon on the equipment with a wearable and instrumentation on the machine to automatically log the user’s reps and upload them to a service for tracking exercise.  Integrate the coach or trainer in the gym into this loop for a rich and very sticky engagement with the customer.   Imagine all the marketing  value of knowing which members are using which equipment, and overlaying that on their class attendance and demographics.

3. Sleep data – Mash up your sleep data from a wearable from the temperature data on your Nest (lots of data point to the connection between temperature and sleep quality).  It sounds great but what’s important is how the thing (thermometer) enables a better life (better sleep = better life, no two ways about it).   Let the athletic coach or health care expert see these data so they can understand how they might impact response to medication or training load.

Selling things is getting less and less interesting as a business.  If you are in retail, and you really view your role as just having a thing on the shelf for someone to walk in and buy, you are competing directly with Amazon, Walmart, and every other e-commerce site that exchanges things for money.   Being close to the customer and building a comprehensive relationship with them means being able to leverage the data from the things more effectively than a far-away website and truly move from selling a product to providing a service.

I’d love to hear your favorite ideas for how to merge user data and device data to deliver better solutions to customers.

 

 

 

Fitness Industry Tech Usage Survey

I came across this presentation from the Fitness Industry Technology Council on LinkedIn and found it pretty interesting.  I could talk about a lot of the results at length but one that jumped out at me was the fact that only 30% of fitness facilities are using technology to track member workouts.  The data are a little bit old but I bet it hasn’t budged a whole lot in the last year.   There’s enormous opportunity here to improve member results, reduce customer churn, and get your members to do your marketing for you.  We all know people like to brag on social media, and when they brag you should make it easy for them to let everyone know they are bragging about a workout they did at your gym.   That’s just one small example.  We use FitLinxx at the Y where I teach a few classes and even though we are fairly advanced I think we still leave a lot on the table.

Calling all fitmob instructors / gym managers

Fitmob has gotten a lot of buzz lately and rightly so – they are seeking to really disrupt and change the model of gym membership and fitness class participation.  If you haven’t heard of them, you can think of them as an “Uber of fitness classes”.  You can find a lot of consumer reviews of the service on Yelp but I’m really interested in fitmob from the trainer or gym manager’s perspective. If you’ve used fitmob in your business and are willing to spend 5-10 minutes sharing your thoughts on it, please shoot me an email – karl@fitbusinesstech.com.   Thanks!