John Collins has dedicated his career to the empowerment of others. His goal has always been to create tools that help people to make the most of their lives. Since 1995, Stayhealthy has been carving out its space in the fields of augmented reality-powered engagement and innovative technology. Since that time, the company has participated in building the largest network of 11,000 biometric kiosks, installed across the U.S. and Canada.
Over the past 24 years, with Collins’ forward-thinking mindset, Stayhealthy has learned what doesn’t work in healthcare and as a result, has created a system that relies on engagement, education and retention as core strategic initiatives. For Collins, these initiatives are part of his very personal mission to change the way we measure and track health and wellness. Of course, backing Collins every step of the way, is an incredibly diverse team of experts and creative minds, from medicine, science, technology, media, advertising and design. Collins points out that the use of patented technology, to offer highly accurate and clinically valid screenings, creates an opportunity to address the growing epidemic of diseases linked to excess body fat, such as cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. “Excess fat is among the most critical problems faced by the U.S. today – and I made it my goal to make America healthier.”
CSQ caught up with Collins over email to find out more about his path to success – and where it might go next.
What was the impetus for becoming directly involved in healthcare?
Collins: A deeply personal experience led me to switch from a successful entertainment career to healthcare. I was born in New Zealand and relocated to the United Kingdom when I was nine, where the British school system set a practical foundation for my life that led me into accounting. While going through my apprenticeship, a close friend, who happened to be the former drummer for David Bowie, asked for some help with his career, and after some back and forth, I decided that I loved music enough to give it a try. It was also during that time that I became a father and relocated to the U.S. Our son was born soon after we arrived in the states, and life seemed to have everything my family was seeking. One day after returning home from work, I went to find my son for family dinner and found him floating face down in our swimming pool. I pulled him out, and the paramedics revived him, but it was too late. The shock was such that I had to reevaluate my entire value system. Would the entertainment business satisfy my new outlook on life? Investigating the brain and how drowning impacted the whole body was the start of a complete change in direction for my family and me. I determined that I had to do all that I could to impact the lives of others for the better, and as such, ended up in the healthcare space.
How has Stayhealthy impacted the community and how do you hope to further that progress going into the future?
Collins: My initial research into what our country and the world was confronting, where health trends were concerned, was very revealing. The trend of excess body fat was a major problem that was leading to many other conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, knee and hip replacements, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and as many as 30 different kinds of cancers. It was quite clear that a solution had to be found. Between our medical devices that are in use by over 3,000 medical professionals worldwide, our activity monitors and our ColorQuest AR app for children, the community impact has been huge. This is only the beginning for us, as we continue to grow into the amazing technology in front of us.
How are immersive technologies like AR impacting the evolution of healthcare?
Collins: We have learned a great deal over the last 20 plus years. In many ways, our focus has been on what does not work. We know that giving a person a number does not engage or educate a user. Then, an “aha moment” occurred. What if we could translate that number into a personal experience? Could we show people their major organs such as their heart, liver and kidneys as impacted by their body fat percent? Augmented or enhanced reality enables a user to do just that – augment or enhance reality in a highly emotional way, that engages and educates them, so they are open to solutions delivered through the very device they carry with them everywhere they go: their cell phone.
What excites you about your career now?
Collins: Today, we are the first company that is delivering applications and experiences that reflect the confluence of augmented reality and consumer wellness. The solutions we are currently building are focused on kids and families; cancer prevention; and wellness post-cancer – areas ripe for innovation and education.
What is your definition of success?
Collins: For myself and my amazing team at Stayhealthy, success is empowering people to be engaged and educated in ways that enhance their lives for the better. The statistics about our current health crisis are daunting, with over 70% of the U.S. suffering from excess body fat. This epidemic is directly related to a number of chronic illnesses and diseases. By successfully addressing excess body fat through solutions that combine healthcare and augmented reality technology, we know we are having an immediate impact. Long term, we recognize that by educating young people, they will be able to reduce their lifetime health costs up to 30%, while taking control of their health and wellness in a way that has never been possible before. Simply put, success looks like life-changing innovations and an empowered and healthy population.