An online guide to 'self-health' trackers and apps

Partners HealthCare's Center for Connected Health in Boston has announced the launch of Wellocracy, aiming to guide consumers in their use of health apps.

Wellocracy is described as a "clinically-based source of impartial, easy-to-understand information on new personal 'self-health' technologies such as health and fitness trackers and mobile apps."

Based on experience from connected health programs at Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospitals, including Boston's Brigham and Women's and Massachusetts General Hospitals, the goal of Wellocracy is to "empower consumers to self-manage their health, create and maintain individual wellness goals and achieve a greater quality of life." 

The initiative comes at a time when almost half of Americans (48 percent) report that it is hard to stay motivated to live a healthy life, and only 22 percent are very confident in their ability to keep track of their own health, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Wellocracy. The survey, conducted online between October 17 and 21, among a nationally representative sample of 2,014 U.S. adults, found that the majority of consumers (56 percent) have never used any type of health tracking device, app or website.

"There are dozens of activity and health trackers on the market today, and literally thousands of health apps available for consumers. Yet, instead of getting people moving towards a healthy lifestyle, most feel paralyzed by all these choices and the technology can be dizzying," said Joseph Kvedar, M.D., founder and director of Partners HealthCare's Center for Connected Health, in a written statement. "Wellocracy is focused on inspiring and empowering individuals to self-manage their health and wellness by providing up-to-date information, expert guidance and innovative ideas to help people get the most out of personal health technologies."

The Harris Interactive survey revealed that personal health information and the right motivation can help people achieve their health and wellness goals. Consumers are interested in more data about themselves as a way to improve their health, as evidenced by the fact that 86 percent of those surveyed believe that feeling informed about their own health is empowering.

"Easy to use, accurate and effective health and wellness trackers are readily available, yet most consumers are not using them," said Kvedar, a member of the FierceHealthIT Advisory Board. "Wellocracy will fill that void and help individuals select the right health technology best suited to their preferences and goals, and figure out the personal motivation that will keep them on track to best manage their health." 

When it comes to consumers' obsessive use of mobile devices to run mHealth apps and get health information, this kind of technology "addiction" might not be a bad thing, argued Kvedar in an August blog post. In fact, he believes that the addictive properties of these devices can be harnessed to make health addictive in the future. 

To learn more:
- read the announcement