health matters

A League of Your Own: Kobo Founder's Health App Syncs Wearable Tech Data

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 13, 2014 11:23 AM

When U.S.-based Borders Books introduced the Kobo e-reader back in 2010, it was seen as a potential “Kindle Killer.” Borders, alas, folded the following year, but Kobo kept quietly rolling along.

Now the man who created Kobo, Michael Serbinis, is introducing a new product that he hopes will excite consumers and the medical community alike: A healthcare app and personal wellness portal called League. Having raised $4 million Canadian in seed money, League is preparing to launch early next year, according to a press release.

League can be accessed via a website and iOS and Android mobile apps, which will monitor information provided by wearable technology devices, such as FitBit's tracking of steps taken, all controlled by the user and open, if desired, to healthcare providers too. Continue reading...

health matters

Walgreens Turns Wellness Coach With Help From WebMD

Posted by Dale Buss on October 2, 2014 04:48 PM

It isn't quite the Apple app with the Mayo Clinic, or even Nike Fit, but the Walgreens pharmacy chain and digital health hub WebMD are partnering in a move aimed at helping each brand compete more effectively in the era of intense digitization of healthcare and medical and fitness advice and monitoring.

The agreement will bring WebMD's virtual wellness-coaching programs to America's largest drugstore chain and help incentivize its Balance Rewards members to practice healthy behaviors using the WebMD platform by giving them rewards points by participating in programs and tracking progress toward goals. This is a first for Walgreens loyalty program, which traditionally rewarded points based on what customers purchase, not do.

The deal also follows the anti-tobacco move by CVS, America's #2 drugstore chain, which went into effect last month and followed a lot of research and soul-searching, at a time when all pharmacies are looking to increase their value to customers.Continue reading...

health matters

CVS Bets On Anti-Smoking Positioning with Corporate Commitment to Health

Posted by Dale Buss on September 3, 2014 01:42 PM

CVS Caremark is making a huge bet with its brand on opposing smoking, as the company today announced that it is going way beyond its February announcement that it would stop selling tobacco in its 7,700 retail locations beginning October 1.

America's second-largest drugstore chain revealed that it is changing its corporate name to CVS Health to reflect its new wellness positioning (while its consumer-facing CVS/pharmacy stores are dropping the hyphen); that it is launching a huge smoking-cessation effort to help customers kick the habit too; and that it has stopped selling tobacco products as of today, nearly a month ahead of its earlier-indicated date.

CVS Health is backing up this huge wager with a passel of new ads and social media activations about the benefits of a smoke-free life under the theme "One Good Reason"—as in, your loved ones comprise "one good reason" to quit smoking, and "What is your #onegoodreason to kick tobacco too"?Continue reading...

health matters

International Health Organizations at Odds Over E-Cigarette Risks

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 27, 2014 11:32 AM

Just as Big Tobacco has rolled out new e-cigarette products across the US, the World Health Organization has expressed “grave concern” over the industry's escalating involvement in the e-cigarette market in a recent report, “warning that the financially powerful companies could...use the current tolerance of the new products as a gateway to ensnaring a new generation of smokers at a time when the public health authorities seem to be winning the battle against tobacco.” 

A slew of major tobacco companies have been launching e-cig brands including Imperial Tobacco, Altria Group, British American Tobacco, China Tobacco, Indian Tobacco Company and Phillip Morris International, which recently acquired one of Britain’s biggest e-cigarette makers, Nicocigs. Altria and Reynolds have made much headway, dominating about 25 percent of e-cig sales in the US market with their MarkTen and Vuse products. However, Lorillard still dominates with its Blu brand.

While the jury is largely still out on whether e-cigarettes pose a health risk like traditional cigarettes, the WHO claims that the new nicotine-laced devices do indeed pose a health risk to the public.Continue reading...

health matters

Intel On the Outside: New Partnerships Could Yield Future in Wearable Tech

Posted by Dale Buss on August 18, 2014 05:22 PM

Intel has been moving outside its core brand as the "Intel on the Inside" regime from the glory days of the PC has been dumped like a three-year-old laptop.

In just the last few days, the iconic microchip maker has announced partnerships to launch new health and lifestyle products with Michael J. Fox and 50 Cent. They're the biggest evidence yet of the strategy of CEO Brian Krzanich to make Intel a leader in the aborning "internet of things," especially wearables, and to continue to veer away from Intel's traditional dependence on chips for conventional computers.

Both moves put Intel into the mix with other tech brands that have been invading the lifestyle and health care spaces, especially Apple, which recently acquired the Beats By Dre brand and has indicated a greater interest in health-monitoring devices with its new HealthKit and rumored iWatch.Continue reading...

health matters

The Pursuit of Health: Apple Dives Deep Into Data with Mayo Clinic, Epic Systems

Posted by Abe Sauer on June 3, 2014 01:33 PM

Apple's new OS X and programming language weren't the only stars at Monday's Worldwide Developer Conference. In fact, 12 apps and their developers were honored at the event as winners of Apple's Design Awards for their exceptional app design and functionality. 

But those apps, including Day One, Leo's Fortune and Blek, may have some competition come next year's awards. During the opening day of WWDC 2014, Apple announced its new HealthKit app and a partnership with Mayo Clinic, among others. The new tracking platform will collect and store health data from compatible third-party apps like Mayo's so users can access information in one place. 

"HealthKit provides a single place that applications can contribute to a composite profile of your activity and health," announced Apple's Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi.

For instance, he added, HealthKit can notify the Mayo Clinic app so that the app could then "be able to check whether that reading is in that patients’ personalized healthcare parameters threshold. And if not, it can contact the hospital proactively, notify a doctor, and that doctor can reach back to that patient, providing more timely care.” The new Mayo app is leaps and bounds ahead of the brand's current limited app offerings for patients.Continue reading...

health matters

Activists Reel In Huge Retailers That Promise Not to Sell GMO Salmon

Posted by Dale Buss on March 7, 2014 10:58 AM

Instead of pressing retailers to remove a GMO food from their shelves, activists are trying to head off genetically-engineered salmon at the river mouth by getting retailers to commit not to sell a biotech-altered fish even before it's commercially available.

So far, Kroger, Safeway, Target, Trader Joe's, H-E-B and other major food retailers have pledged not to sell a GMO salmon produced by AquaBounty Technologies even though it looks like the FDA is about to approve its sale in what would be the federal government's first clearance to a genetically-modified animal for human consumption.

The largest grocer in the US, Walmart, hasn't weighed in yet, and its size can often tip the balance in such matters.Continue reading...

health matters

Four Years Later, FLOTUS' Let's Move Turns Focus to Food Marketing in Schools

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 26, 2014 03:11 PM

In celebration of the fourth anniversary of her Let's Move movement, First Lady Michelle Obama is pressing forward on her ambitions to curb junk food marketing to kids. In an announcement with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Obama introduced a proposal to ban advertising of sodas and unhealthy snacks in public schools. 

"Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food," Obama said at a White House event, according to NBC. 

Vilsack said the new rules eliminate marketing for products that can’t be sold in schools. "If you can't sell it, you ought not to be able to market it," noting that companies spend $149 million a year marketing food and drinks to kids in public schools.

According to the FCC, the heaviest marketers are candy and snack food manufacturers and beverage companies and fast-food chains, offering enticements like coupons for pizza for reading books. Still, only two states, California and Connecticut, have banned sodas and junk food from public schools, the former in 2005 and the latter in 2006.Continue reading...

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