Product Managers Start To Get Personal With Health Monitors

People want to be able to monitor their health and control their data
People want to be able to monitor their health and control their data
Image Credit: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Product managers know that people are always concerned about their health. We worry about how much we weigh, what our blood pressure is, if we are pregnant, what our metabolism is, etc. From a product manager point-of-view what is good about all of this worry is that people are willing to buy products that will tell them how their bodies are doing. This demand for more personal information is driving new product development definitions and a new set of products is being created. However, along with products that monitor our customers comes a lot of tricky data privacy questions.

Tell Me How I’m Doing

So just exactly what kind of health care products are we talking about here? There are wristbands that check a person’s blood pressure, a sleep sensor that you put on your forehead in order to detect if you have stopped breathing, and a strap that goes around a pregnant woman’s belly that has the ability to track an unborn baby’s heartbeat. In addition, there are at home sperm tests and breath monitors that can tell you about your digestion. The market for products that can monitor and report on a person’s physical state is exploding.

The companies that are creating products like these are moving rapidly to get their products to market. Their products are optimized to collect data and then they use that data to personalize the product for the customer. The reason that these sorts of products are now becoming available is because of improvements in the accuracy of a wide variety of sensors. Better sensors mean that the product managers for these products have a better chance of getting their products approved by regulators. Getting this kind of approval will look good on anyone’s product manager resume. These advances have come at the same time that the devices have increased their ability to process more and more data.

The key to any of these products being a success is that they need to be able to deliver to their users data that the user can take action on. The products are starting to be able to do that. However, this is a challenging time for health care monitoring products. All of these products are able to do what they do by collecting potentially sensitive data about the person who is wearing them. Potential customers have been reading about Facebook selling its users data, Europe has enacted significant privacy rules, and security breaches keep popping up. Will customers be willing to buy and use products like this?

Who Owns The Data?

A key factor in determining if customers are going to be willing to buy and use personal health care devices will be finding an answer to the question of just exactly who owns the data that the devices are collecting. When some health care products are purchased, the customer gives his or her permission to share their data anonymously for research purposes. However, this agreement does not allow their data to be shared with third parties.

Many of the firms that are creating these personalized health care devices believe that the consumerization of health care could end up leading to both faster and lower-cost health care in the long term. However, as of right now this information is not providing a benefit to anyone just yet. The problem is that there is not an ecosystem for exchanging health care data. Interfaces between a few applications have been established, but as of yet there is no universal type of health care data interface.

Product managers need to be aware that if their company plans on collecting the health care data that is provided by these types of devices, then they are going to have to be able to store that data in a system that complies with the U.S. government’s federal standards for storing health care data referred to as HIPPA. Many product managers do want to configure their products so that the data that has been collected can be shared with other applications. However, the customer will have to be the one to start the sharing process. Specifically, the systems will need to be set up to be opt-in, not opt-out.

What All Of This Means For You

There is a revolution going on in the world of health care monitoring. More and more devices are starting to come on to the market that can monitor and report on a wide variety of personal health factors. There is clearly a demand for these types of products; however, they come along with some serious questions that product managers are going to use to have to look at their product manager job description in order answer. What should they do with all of the personal data that they are collecting?

The number of products that can monitor health factors is exploding. What these products do is also growing. The products work by collecting data from a person who is wearing them. Their sensors detect a physical condition, the data is then stored, processed, personalized, and then presented to the person who is wearing the device. One of the big challenges that product managers are now facing is that there have been a number of stories in the news about personal data being either sold or leaked. A key question that is going to have to be answered is exactly who will own a person’s health data. Collecting all of this data may make the health care system quicker and better. However, right now there is not a way to effectively share all of the data that is being collected. Product managers need to be aware that if they do collect personal health care data, they are going to have to make sure that it is stored in a certified system.

The demand for devices that can monitor our bodies and tell us how we are doing just keeps on growing. Product managers are going to be responsible for listening to what customers want and then creating the products that will meet their needs. However, at the same time product managers are going to have to work out who owns the health data that is being collected and then making sure that it is being stored securely. Eventually everyone’s health will be monitored in some way, are product managers going to be ready when this day comes?

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that product managers should look for ways to sell the health data that they are collecting?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So product manager, what does your product look like? No, I mean when your customer first has a chance to get their hands on their version of your product, what does it look like? Does it show up in a nondescript cardboard box? Is it in an unremarkable container? You do realize how very important first impressions are, right?