This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

The Digital Skeptic: Health Tech Gets Ready to Be America's Biggest Loser

Going on ehealth-care alert
It doesn't take a complex algo to see what worries Yang. There is a virtual hospital wing filled with ehealth companies looking to turn personal health data into a digital-age experience.

These mostly privately held firms seek to leverage the newly cheap GPS chips, accelerometers and other sensors to capture heart rates, exercise patterns, skin perspiration and other human data. They then present all these gobs of information to consumers, usually on the Web and mobile devices.

"We sell an integrated body-measuring system that sits on the wrist or shoulder starting at $119," says Ivo Stivoric, BodyMedia's CTO. "Users access their data and set goals from the website for $6.95 a month."

I found similar gadgets from makers such as Polar, Scosche, Mio Global and AFrame Digital. There is even an interesting, wearable body-data generating garment from Quebec-based Hexoskin -- $745 gets users a combined smart shirt and reader.

There is serious investor market cap chasing ehealth as well. Sport conglom Nike (NKE - Get Report) rolled out the FuelBand that for $150 offers training advice as you run. And Canada's Lululemon Athletica (LULU - Get Report) has made a workout-friendly sports bra with a heart-rate monitor built right in for just $64.

ehealth is ebarrier free
Most of these tools worked in my testing, generating fascinating results for managing weight or changing diet. They clearly have a rightful place in our health care debate. But the fact remains that, just like any other information-based sector, ehealth care can't keep the market organized.

A new generation of free or ultra-low-cost smartphone apps now compete with these pricey, purpose-built devices. This list, which is longer than I can count, includes the AliveCor app, which remotely measures ECG rhythms, Instant Heart Rate Pro and Web-based fitness communities such as Zamzee, SoFit Mobile and LifeKraze. And then there are the direct knockoffs. The Lark wristband imitates Nike's band, but at a fraction of the cost.

You know profits will be tight when a cool Kickstarter campaign is all that is needed to get going in ehealth, which is how the Mio Alpha product got launched.

The falling value of human information
The scary investor lab results go like this for ehealth. The Consumer Electronics Association is estimating that a full one-third of U.S. consumers plan on buying health and fitness gadgets this year. Those numbers make it very tough to focus on the reality here. Once our intimate corporal information goes through the digital information mill it comes out just as devalued as music, books and financial services. Stuff such as HIPAA regulations, secure networks and what employers say they will do with health care data will have no effect at all.

"The difference between the pretenders and the players will be the ones that can actually do something with the information," Yang said.

Meaning if investors don't eat right and generally be as careful as Hannah Curlee as to what they consume in ehealth, they -- not she -- will turn out to be America's "Biggest Loser."
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
2 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
LULU $51.27 0.00%
NKE $124.27 0.00%
AAPL $110.78 0.00%
FB $94.01 0.00%
GOOG $641.47 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,776.43 +304.06 1.85%
S&P 500 1,987.05 +35.69 1.83%
NASDAQ 4,781.2640 +73.4890 1.56%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs