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Broadband – A Social Determinant of Health

The promise of digital, connected health to engage all health citizens cannot be fully realized until people have access to the new social determinant of health: broadband connectivity. The World Health Organization considers social determinants of health inputs like education, safe drinking water, nutritious food, safe neighborhoods for walking, employment and transportation access. Together, these factors bolster personal/individual and public health. See the map of the U.S., and note whee the concentrations of aqua blue are. These are areas that lack broadband access. Telehealth and other digital health tools can get health care to under-served people in under-served geographic areas….where broadband

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Connectivity Is A Social Determinant of Health

It’s Christmastime, so I’m thinking about connections. “Connectivity” can be social (offline and online), which is indeed a health factor (see Christakis and Fowler on being Connected). But the kind of connectivity to which I’m referring is broadband, WiFi, the kind most often associated with data plans, cable to the home, and free WiFi at your favorite coffee or fast food joint. That kind of connectivity is also a social determinant of health, and is increasingly becoming so for all people. Yet as peoples’ need for internet connectivity is fast growing, especially for health, home broadband connectivity has reached a

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The Telephone Is As Digital As It Gets in Mainstream U.S. Health Care

The phone continues to be the platform technology used in this digital age of health care, according to Better Together: High Tech and High Touch, a survey report sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Council of Accountable Physician Practices. Nielsen’s Strategy Health Perspectives project polled 5,014 U.S. adults in June and July 2015 for this study. According to the study sponsors, this is the largest consumer population studied conducted to-date on the topic of digital health use and demand. The first chart illustrates the reality of digital health in the U.S. 2015: that notwithstanding the availability of telehealth,

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What Retail Telemedicine Means For Healthcare Providers

Direct-to-consumer retail health options are fast-growing in the U.S. health ecosystem. CVS Health brought three telemedicine vendors to its pharmacy brick-and-mortar stores. CVS also acquired Target’s pharmacies, expanding its retail health footprint. Rite Aid has added HealthSpot kiosks to its pharmacies, while Walgreens expanded its relationship with MDLive. And, Cox Cable acquired Trapollo to bring remote health monitoring into subscribers’ homes, along with the cable company’s venture with Cleveland Clinic, Vivre Health. Coupled with the growing supply side of telemedicine vendors, the latest National Business Group on Health survey found that most large employers plan to expand the telemedicine services they

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“What If 1 Million Americans Asked for Medical Records on the Same Day?”

This was not a theoretical question Dr. Farzad Mostashari, former head of the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT in the Department of Health and Human Services, asked yesterday at the closing keynote of Day 1 of the Patient Engagement Forum. Dr. Mostashari issued a challenged to the community of mischief-makers in health/tech patient advocacy: tell everyone you know to contact their doctors — by phone, email, patient portal, or in-person, on one designated day which he called a “Day of Action.” Health IT journalist Neil Versel (disclosure: also a long-time friend in the field) covered this news

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Doctors who write right: Gawande, Topol and Wachter put people at the center of health/care

There’s a trifecta of books written by three brilliant doctors that, together, provide a roadmap for the 21st century continuum of health care: The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol, MD; The Digital Doctor from Robert Wachter, MD; and, Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. Each book’s take provides a lens, through the eyes of a hands-on healthcare provider, on healthcare delivery today (the good, the warts and all) and solutions based on their unique points-of-view. This triple-review will move, purposefully, from the digitally, technology optimistic “Gutenberg moment” for democratizing medicine per Dr. Topol, to the end-game importance of

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Health is a growth industry at SXSW

Health is the hot topic at SXSW. While edgy new movies and hot music are the foundational elements of the annual South-by-Southwest festival, health and health care are the fast-growing themes at the meet-up, where the new-new, month-old beautiful JW Marriott Hotel by the Convention Center hosted most of the digital health track sessions. Digital health today goes well beyond mobile apps and genomic futures. Philips was a major presence this year at SXSW with its vision, shared by me, THINK-Health, and the HeathcareDIY team, of connected health where we live, work, play, pray and learn. In the case of

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The Internet of Things in health care – technology for good in HuffPo

As sensors begin to proliferate our “Things,” from refrigerators to cars, toasters to t-shirt, our health could benefit mightily. Approaching this weekend’s South-by-Southwest Interactive meet-up in Austin, several authors have crowdsourced views on using technology for good in ImpactX, a special section in the Huffington Post sponsored by Cisco. I was asked to develop a view on using technology for good — for health and health care. Here’s my offering: How the Internet of Things Can Bolster Health. The promise of sensor-laden stuff in our lives can work for personal and public health in myriad ways — from perceiving impending epidemics

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The blurring landscape of digital health: the Health 2.0 team puts it in focus

They’re the team that built a brand with the phrase “Health 2.0” before the world barely recognized v 1.0 in healthcare. This week, those folks that brought you the Health 2.0 Conference unveiled the Market Intel database of over 3,000 companies, trying to make sense out of a very blurry and fast-morphing market landscape. I spoke with Matthew Holt and Kim Krueger of Health 2.0 earlier this week to discuss just what’s in this mine of information, and what they intend to do with it. In full disclosure, I have been a colleague and friend of Matthew Holt since his

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Most people want to go digital for health – especially the un-well

2 in 3 people in the U.S. would use a mobile app to manage their health, especially for diet and nutrition, medication reminders, tracking symptoms, and recording physical activity. The fifth annual Pulse of Online Health survey from Makovsky finds that digital health is blurring into peoples’ everyday lives. We’ve covered previous Makovsky digital health surveys here on Health Populi; last year, we focused on consumers managing risk in digital health platforms, and in 2013, the state of seeking health information online. That most consumers would go beyond health information search to the more engaging pursuit of managing health over

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People don’t know much about patient portals: Xerox’s 5th EHR study

The Field of Dreams works in nostalgic plotlines about baseball, but as I’ve pointed out since the advent of consumer-facing health technologies, there’s no Field of Dreams effect in health care when it comes to consumer health engagement. U.S. health consumers aren’t using the patient portals that health care providers have built as part of their efforts to bolster health engagement via EHRs and health IT, Xerox found in the company’s 5th annual survey on electronic health records. I spoke with Tamara St. Claire to discuss the implications of the consumer poll, which was conducted among 2,017 U.S. adults in

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Health IT Forecast for 2015 – Consumers Pushing for Healthcare Transformation

Doctors and hospitals live and work in a parallel universe than the consumers, patients and caregivers they serve, a prominent Chief Medical Information Officer told me last week. In one world, clinicians and health care providers continue to implement the electronic health records systems they’ve adopted over the past several years, respond to financial incentives for Meaningful Use, and re-engineering workflows to manage the business of healthcare under constrained reimbursement (read: lower payments from payors). In the other world, illustrated here by the graphic artist Sean Kane for the American Academy of Family Practice, people — patients, healthy consumers, newly insured folks,

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Women-centered design and mobile health: heads-up, 2014 mHealth Summit

This post is written as part of the Disruptive Women on Health’s blog-fest celebrating the 2014 mHealth Summit taking place 7-11 December 2014 in greater Washington, DC. Women and mobile health: let’s unpack the intersection. On the supply side of the equation, Good Housekeeping covered health tracking-meets-fashion bling in the magazine a few weeks ago in article tucked between how to cook healthy Thanksgiving side dishes and tips on getting red wine stains out of tablecloths. This ad appeared in a major sporting goods chain’s 2014 Black Friday pre-print in my city’s newspaper last week. And along with consumer electronics brand faves like

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Live from the 11th annual Connected Health Symposium – Keeping Telehealth Real

Dr. Joseph Kvedar has led the Center for Connected Health for as long as I’ve used the word “telehealth” in my work – over 20 years. After two decades, the Center and other pioneers in connected health have evidence proving the benefits, ROI (“hard” in terms of dollars, and “soft” in terms of patient and physician satisfaction), and technology efficacy for connecting health. The 11th Annual Connected Health Symposium is taking place as I write this post at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, bringing health providers, payers, plans and researchers together to share best practices, learnings and evidence supporting the

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Activity tracking is consumers’ #1 demand for smartwatches

Of all the functions a smartwatch could play, it’s activity tracking that’s top of most consumers’ minds. GfK conducted a survey in August 2014 among 5,000 smartphone-owning consumers in five countries — China, Germany, South Korea, the UK, and the U.S. The market research firm found that 29% of people see “activity tracking” the most important function. Phone calls ranked second with 13% of consumers, telling time 11%, and 10% voted for basic apps and navigation system. 7% of consumers noted the smartwatch would be desirable for basic web search. In this survey, activity tracking included the broad definition covering

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Dr Eric Topol on the digital democratization of health care

Moore’s Law is coming to medicine. And it will look and feel a lot like Uber: with rich technology underpinning,  consumer-service oriented and friendly, and shaking up the professionals at the front line of the business (from taxi drivers to physicians). Eric Topol, physician and editor-in-chief at Medscape, told a standing-room-only audience at the kickoff of the 8th annual Health 2.0 Conference that the democratization of health care is coming based on consumers’ use of eight drivers: sensors, labs, imaging, physical exams, access to medical records, transparency of costs, and digital pills. Dr. Topol referred to the cover ot TIME

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Health on the 2014 Gartner Hype Cycle

Remote health monitoring is in the Trough of Disillusionment. Wearables are at the Peak of Inflated Expectations, with Big Data leapfrogging wearables from the 2013 forecast — both descending toward the Disillusionment Trough. Mobile (remote) health monitoring, however, has fallen into that Trough of Disillusionment as RHM has been undergoing reality checks in the health care system especially for monitoring and patient self-management of heart disease (most notably heart failure) and diabetes. Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Gartner Hype Cycle, one of my most-trusted data sources for doing health industry forecasts in my advisory work. Compared with last year’s

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Inflection point for telehealth in 2014

The supply side of telehealth has been readying itself for nearly a decade. The demand side appears to be aligning in 2014 for adoption to grow and sustain (some) solid business models. On the demand side, Towers Watson’s 2014 survey of large employers forecasts growth among companies that will offer telemedicine in 2015. Towers found that 37% of employers planned to offer telemedicine to workers as a lower-cost site of care; 34% more employers were considering telemedicine in 2016 or 2017.  The health benefits adviser calculates that employers could save over $6 billion if industry replaces virtual health consultations with

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Big Data Come to Health Care…With Big Challenges – Health Affairs July 2014

“For Big Data, Big Questions Remain,” an article by Dawn Falk in the July 2014 issue of Health Affairs, captures the theme of the entire journal this month. That’s because, for every opportunity described in each expert’s view, there are also obstacles, challenges, and wild cards that impede the universal scaling of Big Data in the current U.S. healthcare and policy landscape. What is Big Data, anyway? It’s a moving target, Falk says: computing power is getting increasingly powerful (a la Moore’s Law), simpler and cheaper. At the same time, the amount of information applicable to health and health care

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Homo informaticus – the global digital consumer

Consumers around the world are feeling more knowledgeable, self-confident and realistic, enabled by mobile platforms, the democratic power of social “choruses,” and a more sharing economy featuring collaborative consumption. As peoples’ phones get smarter and smarter, they carry more powerful multichannel information devices in their hands which empower Homo Informaticus – the new global digital consumer, described in EY’s report, How to copilot the multichannel journal. EY polled 29,943 consumers in the Consumers on Board survey living in 34 countries: across the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, India and Africa. Homo informaticus is the rational consumer smartly using technology to filter information.

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Dialing Dr. Verizon – the telecomms company launches virtual house calls

Expanding its wireless footprint in health care, Verizon, the telecommunications company, announced the start of Verizon Virtual Visits today. The program will be marketed to employers and health plans to enable patients to see doctors at home or when traveling, via Verizon’s wireless network. I spoke with Christine Izui, Verizon’s quality officer, mobile health solution, earlier this week about Virtual Visits. We discussed the market forces that support the growth of telehealth and, in particular, physician visits “anywhere:” There is an under-supply and poor distribution of primary care doctors and certain specialties around the U.S. Employers and health plan sponsors are

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The VA is a telehealth leader

“Telehealth isn’t about seeing a provider by video: it’s about decision making,” Dr. Adam Darkins, leader of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Telehealth Programs, told the audience in his keynote address at the Government Health IT Conference in Washington, DC, on June 17, 2014. Dr. Darkins, trained as a neurosurgeon, realized earlier in his career “time and again,” he said, that he should have seen his patients more frequently in-between face-to-face visits. “A good decision downstream can make a lot of difference to someone’s longevity,” Dr. Darkins recognized. He’s worked with a team at the VA to build

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Privatizing health privacy in the US?

8 in 10 people in the U.S. believe that total privacy in the digital world is history, based on a survey from Accenture conducted online in March and April 2014 and published in the succinctly-titled report, Eighty Percent of Consumers Believe Total Data Privacy No Longer Exists. 84% of U.S. consumers say they’re aware what tracking personal behavior can enable – receiving customized offers and content that match one’s interests. At the same time, 63% of people in the U.S. also say they have a concern over tracking behavior. Only 14% of people in the U.S. believe there are adequate safeguards

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Health care at an inflection point: digital trends via Mary Meeker

When Mary Meeker talks, the digerati listen. Meeker is the digital industry analyst who’s a partner at KPCB, a venture capital company, in Silicon Valley. Each year she publishes a report on the state of the digital marketplace. Her 2014 paper, Internet Trends 2014 – Code Conference (dated May 28 2014)  is online, and as usual, it’s full of data points on both digital technology segments along with some vertical industry findings – in education, financial services, and health, among other segments. I’ve combed through the 164 pages of the PDF to trend-weave the health implications. When it comes to health, the

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The retailization of digital health: Consumer Electronics Association mainstreams health

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has formed a new Health and Fitness Technology Division, signalling the growing-up and mainstreaming of digital health in everyday life. The CEA represents companies that design, manufacture and market goods for people who pay for stuff that plugs into electric sockets and operate on batteries — like TVs, phones, music playing and listening, kitchen appliances, electronic games, and quite prominent at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, e-cigarettes (rebranding “safe smoking” as “vaping” technology). In its press release announcing this news, CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro says, “Technology innovations now offer unprecedented opportunities for consumers to

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The appification of health – a bullish outlook from Mobiquity

Over half of people using health and fitness apps began using them over six months ago, and one-half of these people who have downloaded health and fitness apps use them daily according to survey research summarized in the report, Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health and Fitness from Mobiquity. The company contracted a survey conducted among 1,000 U.S. adults in March 2014 who use or plan to use mobile apps to track health and fitness. Thus the “N” in this study was a group of people already interested in self-tracking health and not representative of the broader U.S. consumer

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The digital health bubble – is it about to burst? #SXSW

That’s a useful and timely question, given the news that Castlight Health will launch its IPO with valuations north of $1 billion. Yes, “billions,” and according to a  MarketWatch analysis, “it’s a bargain at $1 billion.” So then – do we anticipate a bubble? asked Marc Monseau of the Mint Collective, the convener of our panel who brought together Robert Stern, a successful health-tech entrepreneur whose latest venture, @PointofCare, focuses on patient engagement; Marco Smit of Next Innovation Health Partners (parting from the Health 2.0 Conference family where he led Health 2.0 Advisors for several years); and me. Some key

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Health data data everywhere – let’s human-scale it / Report from #SXSW #SXSH

Health data is everywhere, but not much useful to drink. Is #bigdata in health care at the top of the Hype Cycle? And how do we humanize it, make it relevant and useful for our everyday life? In other words, can this data help us hack our lives and health for the better? That question has been on my mind for the past couple of years since the convergence of big data and data analytics and health has emerged. Yesterday at the 2014 South-by-Southwest happening, I attended a panel discussion called Hacking Your Life For Better Health (#hacklife on Twitter).

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Digital health is hot at South-by-Southwest #SXSH

Today kicked off the 2014 South-by-Southwest Festival (#SXSW) in Austin, TX, running until March 16 and featuring dozens of sessions, concerts, video, and fireside chats in music, film and interactive segments. I’ll be involved in an interactive session on Tuesday called “The Digital Health Bubble – Is It About to Burst?” This panel includes Marc Monseau (@MDMonseau) who is a pioneer in health and social media (building J&J’s early leadership in social health online); Marco Smit (@MrHealth20) who leads Health 2.0 Advisors and is a veteran strategist in several health/tech companies; and, Robert Stern, Founder/CEO of @PointofCare, a health IT platform that

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HIMSS14 Monday Morning Quarterback – The Key Takeaways

Returning to terra firma following last week’s convening of the 2014 annual HIMSS conference…taking some time off for family, a funeral, the Oscars, and dealing with yet another snowstorm…I now take a fresh look back at #HIMSS14 at key messages. In random order, the syntheses are: Healthcare in America has entered an era of doing more, with less...and health information technology is a strategic investment for doing so. The operational beacon going forward is moving toward The Triple Aim: building population health, enhancing the patient’s experience, and lowering costs per patient. The CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, spoke of the

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Patients play a starring role at #HIMSS14 – Best In Show

Even before stepping into the Orlando Convention Center on Sunday 23 February 2014, my clairvoyant powers know the forecast of the Best in Show: the growing role of patients in health care, reflected in both the education session at the annual 2014 meeting of HIMSS as well as the product/service mix being proffered on the convention show floor. As a member of HIMSS Connected Patient Committee, I know first-hand the conscious effort and energy that the organization has committed to getting real about patients’-peoples’-caregivers’ central role in health care. The organization was built on providers and technology. When I first

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The value of health IT – driving ROI takes a village

This is my second post for the #HIMSS14 Blog Carnival, written to coincide with the annual 2014 HIMSS Conference convening health IT leaders in Orlando, FL, 23-28 February 2014. I am gratified to be one of a dozen+ Social Media Ambassadors to the Conference. The first post, on why health IT ‘should’ matter to consumers, can be found here.  Investments in the digital health space reached nearly $2 billion in 2013, based on Rock Health’s look back at venture funding in the market. These financings covered $245 mm that went toward electronic health records and clinical workflow; $161 toward analytics

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Connected Health – the technology is ready, providers on the cusp

The convergence of technology developments – such as the internet, mobile phone adoption, cloud computing, sensors, electronic health records – with societal evolution including consumerism, demand for transparency, and “flatter” organizations – enable the phenomenon of Connected Health. Connected Health by definition includes mobile health (mHealth), telehealth and telemedicine, as presented in the February 2014 issue of Health Affairs which is dedicated to this theme. Why Connected Health’s time is Now relates to those factors cited above, and the underlying challenge of managing health care costs. While all nations in the developed world are facing difficult health economies, the U.S. spends so

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Health is everywhere – seeing health in JWT’s Top 100 Trends for 2014

Of 100 broad-based trends to expect in 2014, most relate in some way to health. I’ve reviewed every one of the 100 forecast points in JWT’s 100 Things to Watch in 2014 report, and it seems Health is Everywhere. Let me point out many, which I’ve allocated to health-ified buckets (note that JWT organizes the list of 100 by alphabet, from “A” to “Z,” so they are not in any prioritized or strategic order). The most direct-health impacting bucket of trends are those in health tech. These include E-cigarette regulation (#35), Glassware (#42), Haptic technology (#46), Needle-free vaccines (#64), Oculus Rift (#65), OTT TV (#66), Telediagnostics

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mHealth will join the health ecosystem – prelude to the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show

The rise of digital health at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show signals the hockey-stick growth of consumer-facing health devices for fitness and, increasingly, more medical applications in the hands of people, patients, and caregivers. This year at #CES2014, while the 40% growth of the CES digital health footprint will get the headlines, the underlying story will go beyond wristbands and step-tracking generating data from an N of 1 to tools that generate data to bolster shared-decision making between people and the health system, and eventually support population health. For example: – Aetna is partnering with J&J to deploy their Care4Today

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Investing in technology that lowers health costs – the growing role of mobile

At the Venture+ Forum at the 2013 Mobile Health Summit yesterday, Lisa Suennen, Managing Director of Psilos Ventures was asked what she and her venture capital fund look for in choosing new investments for their health care portfolio. She succinctly said, “technologies that lower costs.” With nearly $1 in $5 of the U.S. economy attributable to health spending, Lisa’s got a point. Technology in U.S. health care has been mostly additive and expense-inducing, not reducing: fax machines and printers, for example, continue to proliferate in health care settings as part of “networking,” and once you add a new clinical technology

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For Medtech, Design is the New Plastics (advice to The Graduate)

Return on innovation in medical technology is on the decline. Med tech needed a GPS for its role in the health ecosystem, and lost its way as it focused on a few wrong priorities. In a $349 billion market, there has been much to lose…and will be to gain. The new world for medical technology and how the industry can turn around is the subject of P2C’s report, Medtech companies prepare for an innovation makeover, published in October 2013 by the PwC Health Research Institute (HRI). The problem has been an addiction to incremental improvements on existing products: think about the analog in

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