Jonas Bro Super Bowl Ad Puts App-Based Healthcare In The Spotlight

The Super Bowl had its share of expected commercials — the touching, the silly, the nostalgic and the celebrity-laden. But genuinely surprising ads are harder to come by, simply because when it comes to advertising the big game, consumers have seen it all.

But this year, there was something new — an ad with Nick Jonas for a diabetes blood sugar monitor called Dexcom. Jonas, who has Type 1 diabetes, noted in the commercial that in a world where drones can deliver packages to our doorsteps and cars can drive themselves, why are diabetics still pricking their fingers to test their blood when there is an app-based finger prick free method in Dexcom?

The ad itself drew a range of reactions. Many within the diabetes community were happy to see the product get such a loud shout out on such a large public stage. Others questioned the point of advertising a product already well known among those who might use it and unavailable to them due to cost. 

 “Knowing about the brand isn’t what keeps us from using it, it’s the finances. Maybe if they didn’t have to pay for a Super Bowl commercial we wouldn’t have to pay so much,” diabetic KM Alexander reportedly complained after the ad aired.  

 And while a Jonas brother and a Super Bowl ad will do a lot to charge up attention to a specific product — health tech has been making its way into the headlines a lot of late. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, virtual attendees saw a whole host of health gadgets and technology for conditions ranging from allergies to epilepsy. The “Best of Innovation Award” for the Health and Wellness category, and an “Honoree” in the Software and Mobile Apps category was Epsy Health, maker of a free epilepsy management app that helps users track their seizures and other components of their condition. 

 Meanwhile, Omron Healthcare rolled out the multipurpose VitalSight tools that come complete with a connected blood pressure monitor and a data hub. 

 “Omron created VitalSight specifically for hypertension management,” Jeffrey Ray, Omron’s executive director of business and technology, said in a statement. “This new service is designed to encourage more remote monitoring, more communication between the patient and the physician, and more data to make treatment decisions and improve health outcomes.”

 Some of the health tech apps were a bit more remote. Belgian start-up Nobi introduced a smart lamp designed to detect falls from senior owners, as well as a host of secondary smart features such as fire and burglary detection, air quality monitoring and photo sharing. 

 According to Fast company reports, the proliferation of healthcare technology currently underway, an explosion of advances in artificial intelligence that make personal health care management a more practical possibility than it ever had been before.

 Notably, consumers are wearing devices like Apple Watches and Fitbits on their wrists, tracking their heart rate and body temperature continuously and projecting that data streams that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can analyze. That analysis powers the features of the expanding app-based medical tech systems exploding on the market today. It will also be able to do more in the future in terms of helping consumers better manage their health. 

 Someday, according to University of Oxford researchers, doctors may be able to identify the onset of dementia simply by the way someone holds and uses their smartphone.  

 The promise, reports note, expands multi-directionally, but there are challenges, most notably around healthcare data privacy. Consumers may well be happy to gather and share their collective activity and health data with their healthcare provider and be somewhat less excited to share that data with their insurance company when it might affect their premiums. There are also ongoing questions about how that data will be managed and stored — and how much control of it a consumer should be allowed to have.

 That answer will become increasingly important as time goes on. Because as Nick Jonas demonstrated, health tech isn’t a niche. It’s big business and no longer part of the future of healthcare.  

 It’s an essential facet of the present.