Majority of Consumers Want Wearable Fitness Technologies: Accenture Survey

NEW YORK; Jan. 6, 2014 – In a consumer electronics world dominated by smart-phones, HDTVs, laptop computers and tablet PCs, a new market category is generating significant consumer buying interest: wearable technologies. A new Accenture (NYSE: ACN) survey (Accenture Digital Consumer Tech Survey 2014) found that more than half of consumers (52 percent) are interested in buying wearable technologies such as fitness monitors for tracking physical activity and managing their personal health. The survey of more than 6,000 people in six countries – Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States – showed that many are also interested in buying smart watches (46 percent) and Internet-connected eyeglasses (42 percent).

Wearable technologies deliver a wide range of capabilities: fitness monitors track a person’s heart rate and calories burned, while Internet-connected eyeglass displays enable consumers to browse the Internet, take digital photos and receive hands-free notifications. Among the six countries, consumers in India were most interested in buying fitness monitors (80 percent), smart watches (76 percent) and Internet-enabled eyeglasses (74 percent).

In addition, the survey found significant consumer interest in purchasing phablets, an emerging category of mobile devices that combine smartphone and tablet PC functions while featuring a screen size of five-to-seven inches – in between a traditional smartphone and a tablet PC. The survey also unveiled strong purchase plans over the next year for traditional smartphones, HDTVs, laptops and tablet PCs. – See more at  www.accenture.com.

CodeBaby Intelligent Virtual Assistant Becoming Important Tool For Healthcare Exchanges

CodeBaby, an intelligent virtual assistant  (IVA) technology provider is quickly becoming an important tool for healthcare exchanges interested in offering self-service and customer engagement solutions to help consumers select the appropriate health plan for their medical needs.

The technology features a 3D virtual assistant  named “Chloe”  designed to enhance individual enrollment tools already made available by the health plan or the exchange,  and to enhance member self-service capabilities.

Two exchanges have recently announced that they were adding CodeBaby to their platforms. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the largest health insurer in the mid-Atlantic region, and Benefitfocus, a leading provider of cloud-based benefits software solutions for consumers, employers, insurance carriers and brokers. have signed on to use the CodeBaby technology.

Codebaby offers self-service and customer engagement solutions that enable the benefits health insurance and healthcare provider industries to increase online customer engagement, drive conversion objectives, and improve online self-service. Its benefits advisor solution, based in the cloud, guides and engages consumers and employees towards decisions on health exchanges and benefits platforms using a combination of interactive web elements, decision support tools, and emotionally expressive 3D intelligent virtual assistants.

For more information visit: http://www.codebaby.com/

UnitedHealthcare Puts Its Physician, Facility Network on New DocGPS iPhone App.

Innovation Alert!

UnitedHealthcare says that is helping improve access to health care by putting its vast network of doctors, clinics, hospitals and other health care services on a new app just introduced on Apples iPhone.

iphoneThe new DocGPS App for Apple Inc.s popular mobile device is said to enable users to tailor their search to their specific health plan and locate nearby doctors, clinics and hospitals within the UnitedHealthcare network using the GPS functionality of iPhone 3G and 3GS. The app can make searches on 23 types of health care facilities and 58 types of physician specialties.

According to UnitedHealthcare, after locating a doctor or hospital, the application can then show the office location on a map, provide detailed directions, and enable the user to call the medical professional or facility with a single tap on the search result.

UnitedHealthcare sys that DocGPS is ideal for individuals on the road who are not familiar with health care providers in their area, such as families traveling on vacation or professionals on business trips.

DocGPS also works with first-generation iPhones running 2.0 software or higher, enabling users to search UnitedHealthcares health plan networks by zip code, or city and state. The application is available for download free of charge from the App Store on iPhone or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

We are putting a powerful tool in the hands of consumers so they can make more informed health care decisions whether they are at home, at work or on the run, said Dawn Owens, CEO of OptumHealth, a UnitedHealth Group company and lead developer of the new technology for UnitedHealthcare customers. The new DocGPS App reinforces UnitedHealth Groups ability to deliver innovative technologies that help make it easier for millions of Americans to understand and access health care.

According to UnitedHealthcare, DocGPS is the latest consumer-friendly innovation to modernize, simplify and make transparent health care information. And it answers a need. An October 2009 study by CTIA-The Wireless Association showed nearly eight in 10 Americans (78 percent) said they are interested in receiving health care services via their mobile devices.

About UnitedHealthcare:

UnitedHealthcare (www.unitedhealthcare.com) provides a full spectrum of consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services to individuals, public sector employers and businesses of all sizes, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. The company organizes access to quality, affordable health care services on behalf of more than 25 million individual consumers, contracting directly with more than 600,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals to offer them broad, convenient access to services nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

About OptumHealth

OptumHealth helps individuals navigate the health care system, finance their health care needs and achieve their health and well-being goals. The companys personalized health advocacy and engagement program tap a unique combination of capabilities that encompass care solutions, behavioral solutions, specialty benefits and finance services. Serving nearly 60 million people, OptumHealth is one of the nations largest health and wellness businesses and is a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company. More information about OptumHealth can be found at www.optumhealth.com.

Source: UnitedHealthcare

Wireless Health Institute to Explore New, $2B Industry.

A report published in the San Diego Business Journal today said that Qualcomm and Scripps Health announced plans for an institute dedicated to improving health care using wireless technologies. The center will be funded initially by a $45 million grant from the Gary and Mary West Foundation, and take the name West Wireless Health Institute.

According to the Business Journal, the organization’s research and engineering teams will conduct clinical research using wireless solutions to better prevent, diagnose, manage and treat major health conditions, ranging from Alzheimer’s to heart disease to obesity.

The article went on to point out some possible applications, for instance, wireless sensors can track blood sugar, blood pressure, vital signs, sleep state and even caloric metabolism.

Organizers were quoted as saying that the Institute will bring together science, medicine, engineering and technology in the delivery of health care.

Wireless health care is expected to grow into a nearly $2 billion industry in the next five years, analysts say.