The extremely popular Wii gaming system will begin connecting directly to health professionals in April. It appears that this will be first offered in Japan combining the existing Wii Fit and Wii Balance devices with bi-directional online communication capabilities. Moving beyond just providing the gaming devices and platform, Nintendo is partnering with NEC, Hitatci and Panasonic to provide a service whereby users of Wii Fit or Balance will be able to send their work-outs to “health professionals” and receive feedback, via email, regarding these workouts with suggestions (e.g. only 10 push-ups? do 20 next time).
Interesting concept but half-baked. Sure, it may be nice to get some feedback on a given workout but is it really all that useful if you do not have any biometric data to go with it? And what is a “health professional” anyway, a recent graduate of We Are Physical Therapy University?
We’ll have to wait and see what ultimately arises from this initial trial balloon.
In a broader sense, it really is a brilliant idea that may quickly move beyond the shores of Japan to North America. We can readily foresee employers and payers adopting a Wii Health-type of service combining the Wii, with the bi-directional communication capabilities to health coaches and maybe even to a consumer’s PHR. HealthString is one such PHR that has a heavy focus on health coaching and sells their product/services almost exclusively to employers. One can easily imagine an employer who offers HealthString to its employees combining their health coaching service and PHR with an incentive/rebate on the purchase of Wii Fit to foster healthy behaviors among its employees to improve overall population health.
Or maybe, again via a rebate program, an employer can set-up an internal team challenge using something like Limeade (another health solution targeting employers), combining their solutions with the bi-directional communication and logging of work-outs capabilities of Wii Fit to promote peer-based fitness. Clearly, there are all sorts of permutations and scenarios of services that one can build upon with the Wii Fit and this future bi-directional communication capability.
Makes us wonder if Nintendo has had any discussions with the folks at HealthVault and their Connection Center.
Oops, HealthVault is owned by Microsoft with its competing Xbox. Nintendo, better look to Google Health and Dossia, both would be receptive to their overtures.