Health

WebMD launches biometrics-friendly app portal

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Image Credit: WebMD

Not wanting to miss the consumer health data craze, MebMD has announced the launch of a new health portal that will wrap its physician-reviewed health information around biometric health data collected from all sorts of connected health devices.

The new hub, called Healthy Target, is now one of the three main sections of its iPhone app.

Healthy Target will use an API to pull data from activity trackers, wireless scales, and glucose meters, then add contextual content and motivational tips for people dealing with chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity, WebMD says. General consumers can also use it to develop sustainable health-conscious habits.

Healthy Target can translate step, sleep, weight, and blood glucose data from multiple well-known device manufacturers, including Entra, Fitbit, UP by Jawbone, and Withings, into “actionable insights” like “run in place for 10 minutes before bedtime.” Users can manually input their biometric data into Healthy Target or connect their devices.

While the new hub might gather health data from a number of devices, it won’t necessarily simplify the biometric health picture for consumers. Most people don’t use multiple health devices, so the idea that WebMD’s portal will help by unifying information seems false.

And the new portal also adds more noise to the increasingly noisy consumer health data picture. The company is essentially building its own portal within Apple’s existing ecosystem, while Apple itself is building a repository (HealthKit) that will be offering redundant services. Apple has contracted with Mayo Clinic for health data.

WebMD didn’t respond to calls for more information, so we don’t know how the company intends to make money from Healthy Target. It may simply provide more space for ads. We also don’t know if WebMD intends for Healthy Target to integrate with Apple’s HealthKit or Samsung’s SAMI health platform.

“Consumers will appreciate the ease of incorporating their biometric data into our Healthy Target program and the health insights and recommendations offered to help them sustain a healthier life,” David Ziegler, WebMD’s director of product management, said in a prepared statement.  “With more than 40 percent of consumers using mobile devices to access health information, the time is right for a mobile app that can help translate data into life-improving insights.”

WebMD Healthy Target features and functions include (from the press release):

  • Goal Setting. Healthy Target enables users to choose from six goals: 1) lose weight 2) eat healthier 3) be more active 4) control blood sugar 5) sleep better 6) feel better. Once goals are selected, Healthy Target recommends proven habits that can help users reach them. Goals can be added or changed at any time.
  • Habit Intensity & Tracking. Each habit has three levels: easy, medium, and hard. Users start a new habit at the easy level (each habit lasting for one week), track their progress, and use reminders to help ensure they do their habits on a regular basis. They can change or restart their habits at any time. As they move further along the program, their healthy habits and wellness continue to grow.
  • Data Understanding. Healthy Target incorporates easy-to-understand visuals so users can see changes in their sleep, step counts, weight, and blood sugar over time.
  • Progress Report & Inspiration. In addition to daily snapshots that monitor progress, users get weekly recaps analyzing their success towards achieving their goals as determined by the data they provide. In addition to the assessment, users will receive personalized tips to encourage them to become more successful moving forward.