Royal Philips International seems to be placing its bets on some innovative healthcare IT markets. Here are some that I’ve noticed in the past couple of years:

  • VISICU (a remote ICU monitoring technology company acquired in 2007)
  • Digital Pathology (commercial offering in 2009)
  • Motiva (Remote patient management and education delivered through television)
  • TeleStation (In-home hub for two-way communication between provider and patients with chronic diseases, integrated with wireless measurement devices)
  • LifeLine (focused on preventing falls and medication errors for seniors)

The list above is not comprehensive by any means, it’s just what I could recall right away. Without making this a post about Philips’ strategy, here is the latest addition to my personal list of innovative Philips Healthcare IT offerings- DirectLife activity monitor. It tracks your physical activity (through a triple axis accelerometer) to calculate calories burned. Results show up on a personal webpage (detailed) and on the device (simple indicator lights).

It’s like FitBit, but with some design differences – DirectLife is waterproof and needs USB-based sync (FitBit is wireless through a hub). Most importantly, DirectLife comes with a coach- a real person to provide inspiration and assistance to meet your target weight or activity level. The device (hardware) is $99, but coaching is a monthly subscription of $12.95 (first four months free).

The entry of Philips in this lifestyle-tracking arena makes the proposition more legit for mass adoption- now the HR departments of large enterprises  can think of offering it as a health benefit, maybe health insurance companies will pay attention too. FitBit is a great device in itself, but what’s needed is a “wellness service”, much like what DirectLife is starting to sound like. My prediction is that we’ll see proliferation of such services in the next few years- maybe even a lower premium option in your medical insurance if you choose an integrated activity tracking service.