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Wellocracy Is Coming! Watch For It

November 25, 2012

After working at this remote patient monitoring game for about 10 years now, we are ready to bring self-care to consumers – couch potatoes, weekend warriors and all of us in between hoping to live a little healthier, lose a few pounds or just feel a little better.  Meet Wellocracy™!

The goal of Wellocracy is at once simple and daunting – to get America moving, and to motivate our citizens to move to a healthier state. It turns out that the formula is straightforward:  a) track your activity, b) find your individual set of motivational tools and c)  find ways to increase your activity without disrupting your life.

But let’s take a quick look at how we got here. In the early days of remote monitoring, we thought the big value add would be giving a doctor or nurse a more rich data stream about your vital signs and this would enable her to make better just-in-time decisions about your care plan.  Turns out, we were right. The best example of this is the 50%  reduction in hospital readmissions we’ve seen by employing home telemonitoring for our heart failure patients.

But the biggest insight that I’ve gained in my 18+ years of working in connected health came when some of our earliest patients on that same telemonitoring program began to significantly improve their self-care.  We noticed that they used their daily monitoring results (weight, blood pressure, heart rate) as a numeric yardstick for their progress, enabling them to better understand the basic pathophysiology of congestive heart failure. They began to realize that salt intake leads to fluid retention and if your heart is weak, a build up of fluid in the lungs can be quite dangerous.  As a result, they started being much more fastidious about salt and fluid balance.

As we observed this phenomenon, we broke it down into two sets of factors we could study:  the use of objective data in feedback loops and the use of motivational psychology to help our patients strive to keep those data in the right range.  In most cases, the motivational tool was a phone call from one of our telemonitoring nurses (highlighting our partnership with Partners Healthcare at Home).  One lovable and amusing quote from a patient come to mind:  “I can’t eat fudge because I can’t fudge my data.”

Another profound, reproducible finding over the years has been the attachment patients feel for these home monitoring devices.  Patients almost universally plead not to be taken off a remote monitoring program.  This led us to the observation that self-tracking is contagious or in Internet parlance, ‘sticky.’  Most people enjoy seeing how their lifestyle affects some sort of number.  Self-tracking keeps health top of mind and can keep people motivated.

A sneak peak into Wellocracy…

I thought for years that if there was some way to bring this insight, this stickiness into the homes of regular folks that we would see a corresponding improvement in health and wellness in the population at large.  As the quantified-self movement caught on to self-tracking and the deluge of self-tracking devices and apps that is now available came on the market, the conditions improved even further.

Then I met two impressive colleagues that shared this vision for bringing connected health into the living room, namely Carol Colman, an accomplished author specializing in the self-help genre, and Justin Mager, personal trainer turned physician and expert in lifestyle interventions.  Soon we were joined by media relations maven extraordinaire, Gina Cella and Wellocracy was born.  Along the way, we picked up some awesome advisors including Andy Donner, James Fowler, Emily Hackel, David Rose and Charlotte Yeh.

How will we achieve our goal to motivate individuals to move to a healthier state? We start with the premise that the self-tracking market is crowded, confusing and oriented toward techies. We will simplify the language and drive home the value through a series of books (short ebooks to be followed by a traditional book later).  These books will be tightly coupled to a website where we can build community around Wellocracy and continue to update our members’ knowledge about the fast changing field of self-tracking and behavior change.

We’re excited to have the opportunity to launch our first ebook and our website at the Consumer Electronics Show, January 8, 2013. There, at the Silvers Summit, I’ll have the pleasure of moderating a panel on health apps for the 50+ crowd.  I hope we see you there. In the meantime, we’re looking for early adopters to join the Wellocracy community and share their own stories about how the combination of self-tracking, motivational tools and steps and bursts can lead to improved health. If you are interested in learning more, please comment on this blog or email me at

I’m excited to be working with Carol, Justin, Gina and our advisors as we launch this effort to improve the health of our nation. More to come on Wellocracy, as we ready for the official launch in January…

31 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2012 9:13 pm

    In the spirit of transparency, what is the governance of Wellocracy? Is it part of Connected Health? Is the business model non-profit vs for-profit? Will it compete with Healthrageous? Will Wellocracy adopt the principles of open innovation? Just trying to understand organizational relationships.

  2. November 25, 2012 9:38 pm

    Wellocracy is about building community around connected health for every day citizens. As such it is complimentary to Healthrageous and to the Center for Connected Health.

  3. November 25, 2012 11:35 pm

    Reblogged this on lava kafle kathmandu nepal.

  4. Charlie permalink
    November 26, 2012 12:48 am

    Wellocracy appears to be very intrigueing..yet rather simple approach in ‘mission statement’. Which is perfect/awesome! Though I haven’t spent the past 10+ years as you have Dr. K, I have spent 4+ years self educating in this ‘zone’ from a sales guy (simple folk, us sales guys, ay?) and IT stand-point. Humble opinion: no one is going at it correctly. The device guys, the insurance folks, the big healthcare providers, the non-embracing App folks…etc..all either trying to simply sell ‘stuff’, or boil the entire ocean. Thus, you nailed it with your Building Community via connected health for the common folk statement! And I say, the issue has been a sales strategy issue…at the simple community level.

    Everyone seems to want to connect to EPIC or massive EMR’s…or sell to Kaiser and larger providers…or align with big insurance…or sell devices at StuffMart or download a health app via iTunes. Yikes/Yuk! Either very cumbersome and FDA-hassle-filled, or non-embracing from W-mart or iTunes.

    I would love to get more info…would love to be involved…would love to share what I have found…etc. I can see ‘it’…I can sell ‘it’. Actually not that difficult of a value statement to wrap a solution sales model around…humble opinion.

    Take care–Charlie

  5. November 26, 2012 5:45 am

    Wow sounds like you did it again doc, great concept and team! I am very excited to learn more.

    • November 26, 2012 4:23 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Ben. We like what you’re doing at Happtique a lot too!

  6. dale leffler permalink
    November 26, 2012 3:39 pm

    sign me up!

  7. November 27, 2012 11:50 am

    In the spirit of self tracking and quantified self, we just launched a Wi-Fi weight scale ( which allows one to monitor and trend data anytime anywhere. Hopefully it will help provide the data stream for this effort.

  8. Kathy Duckett permalink
    November 27, 2012 11:59 am

    Great idea and definitely needed. Sign me up as an early adopter.

  9. November 27, 2012 12:20 pm

    very exciting – – i would love to know how we might be able to work together…You have a tremendous advisory board 🙂 Will you be at mhealth next week?
    Laura Mitchell

  10. Heather Bello permalink
    November 27, 2012 12:33 pm

    This is fantastic Dr. Kvedar! Please sign me up.

  11. gooddesignagewell permalink
    November 27, 2012 12:34 pm

    Bravo! See you CES. Sign me up as an early adopter.

  12. Cheryl Dwyer permalink
    November 27, 2012 1:09 pm

    Great concept, Dr. Kvedar. Please sign me up as an early adopter.

  13. November 27, 2012 2:27 pm

    Dear Dr. Kvedar, sounds complementary to the “Be Fit” program. I’m interested in being an early adopter. Thank you.

  14. November 27, 2012 3:16 pm

    Ditto.. would love to be an early adopter. Would also be interested to see how we can implement the FitBehavior eBook as a motivational tool to your arsenal. (multimedia eBook with 20 embedded videos)

  15. November 27, 2012 6:30 pm

    Outstandng work (again) – let me know how WEGO Health Activists can join the Wellocracy movement!

  16. November 27, 2012 9:35 pm

    Dear Joe, this is another fascinating idea & word that you showed and led us in direction. I am currently thinking about starting the FutureHealthDesign Group with my colleagues, and I will share your idea wth them. Cheers!

  17. Pam Fine permalink
    November 28, 2012 10:23 am

    Love the idea Dr. Kvedar; please sign me up as an early adopter.

  18. Tom Boyle permalink
    November 30, 2012 11:50 am

    Congratulations Joe, another great endeavor! I completely agree that consumers can be self-motivated to change behavior when supplied with new forms of personal information where they can see cause and effect. I had the pleasure of overseeing a remote monitoring proof-of-concept of a small group of “aging independents” in Northern Ireland a couple of years ago. One of the surprising results was the same as what you witnessed – cohorts were using the data to make decisions on how to better manage their behavior. Two women used the data as a basis to speak with their doctors about current prescriptions – both resulted in changes to their therapeutics – and another gentleman used his daily blood pressure reading to guide what farm work he did in the afternoon! All 3 took the personal initiative to use new PERSONAL data sources to try to improve their health. I’ll be interested to see how this evolves.

    • December 1, 2012 4:36 pm

      Thanks for your story, Tom. Words of 3d party verification!

  19. Gold permalink
    January 11, 2013 1:24 pm

    Dr. Kvedar, this is very exciting. Has there been any evidence on maintaining motivational levels from mhealth over an extended period of time, or are we still in the hype era?

    • January 12, 2013 11:40 am

      The evidence is just starting to accumulate. Good studies on texting for smoking sensation out of the UK for instance.


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