Will Online Health Plans Help Keep You Trim?

Since the stimulus package, the Obama administration has been pushing for the digitization of health records. With this in mind, Adam Bosworth, the former head of Google Health, launched Keas, his new online consumer health company on Tuesday.

Keas takes your personal health data (lab results, personal exercise, mood journals) and spits out a personalized plan to make you healthier. It can send e-mail alerts with advice on a medical condition or text messages reminding you what to eat and how to exercise. But will it work?

Keas tries to help individuals make healthier choices day-to-day in the hopes that healthcare costs will be curbed in the long run. Indeed, conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can be controlled through the smart diet and exercise choices Keas promotes. Here's how Keas describes its Care Plans:

Keas Care Plans are designed to help shed some light on a specific health and wellness issue, but they come in all shapes and sizes. Some contain information on how you can manage or improve a condition; others might use quizzes or ask you for lab results to deliver personalized content and action items to help you improve your health. Many plans take into account your health conditions, family history, and other information in your Health Profile to figure out the next steps toward your health goals.

When I first heard about Keas, I was impressed by the company's promotion of health through an emphasis on nutrition and exercise, a significant expansion from Google Health. I was curious to see what questions they would ask and what tips they would give me, a generally health-conscious individual.

But when I registered for Keas, I was surprised by how few questions I was asked about my lifestyle and family history. Because I do not have any of the medical conditions Keas lists, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma, and I do not take any prescription medications, basically the only information Keas provided for me was my BMI, which I could find on plenty of other websites, and is well-known to be an unreliable determinant for healthy weight.

At the end of the day, Keas is a digital health trainer. If there are people out there who want to pay for a service to nag them through the days and weeks to eat the right food and do the right exercises, then Keas will be popular. I don't know that such a population exists, except for individuals with a variety of health problems who might need a resource that creates a health plan and consistently reminds them to keep up with it. How many people want to pay for the privilege of trading their medical histories for a barrage of alerts to keep up with a computer's customized health plan? Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see the market.