Connecting to Health Coaches with Wii Fit

wii-fitThe 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.

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9 comments on “Connecting to Health Coaches with Wii Fit
  1. thought provoking.

    first, I think wii is the kix of video games. kid-tested, mother-approved. it is the only one our kids play (although we use one on load from a friend).
    our Board member bonds with his family on wii trivia games — and their daughter stays fit with it.
    lastly, one of our customers (Aditi Technologies) has a wii in the lunch room — and people are always in there on a break being active, social, and laughing. (and talking about work).

    it could be very big. interoperability is key. i don’t think HealthVault would say ‘Xbox only’ — their APIs are open and we could connect Wii data (if they let us) in days.

    companies will reward people for doing the things (be it using wii, following disease management protocols, pharma compliance, performance training, selling or whatever drives “high-performance”).

    p.s. although you misspelled Limeade the link was correct :-)

    henry

  2. Chris Hall says:

    John,

    Cool predictions on how this “system” could be implemented in the U.S. with employers/payers. I’m really getting into the idea of focusing on the social aspects of health and tools like a connected Wii Fit program could potentially do just that.

    -chris

  3. John, this is interesting. We’ve had a wii fit in our gamelab since they came out, and I was an early adopter at home too. While the hardware is incredible, I think they’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the balance board’s potential.

    This kind of interactive approach seems to be a good idea, but I wonder when Nintendo is going to come down off its high horse and start actually talking to people who know something about health? It’s nice to be the 800 lb gorilla, but it seems that the way to stay in that position is to be a little more open in terms of partners.

    Thanks for the great post; as you know, I think that games are going to play a big role in the future of health . . . so when Nintendo talks, people listen!

  4. John says:

    Well, Greg, at least in Japan Nintendo is working with others to make this health initiative work, partnering with NEC, Panasonic and Hitachi. Nintendo has also established an advisory board of healthcare professionals to assist them as well. So, at least in Japan they are making the right moves. Hopefully, they’ll extend that model to other regions/markets.

    Why not give the US offices a call and let me know how they respond to your overtures.

  5. Terri says:

    I am a Nurse Practitioner student that is going on the final year and I am currently trying to develop a research idea with the Wi Fit. I think this would be a great idea and I am wondering how to go about this.

    • Bryan says:

      Terri,

      Did you ever get anywhere with your research ideas on Wii fit? I’m trying to find any good articles/research and would appreciate it if you would pass along any research you’ve come across (or done). Thanks. – Bryan

  6. Finally someone who can write a good blog ! I loved your post and will be telling others about it. Subscribing to your RSS feed now. Thanks

  7. Amira Filgo says:

    The Denver Athletic Club is home to world-class trainers and facilities. Whether you are training for the Olympics or working out to stay in shape, The DAC has what you need. Join our community of athletes and be a part of a tradition that has embraced generations.

  8. EHR - Eric says:

    Obvioiusly there has been a lot of interest in Google’s vision of Health.

    An interesting interview with Google Health’s Alfred Spector is seen at EHRtv here http://www.ehrtv.com/google-alfred-spector-mar-2010/

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