How far we’ve come with consumer-facing technology in health care, in such a short period of time…
Ten years ago, having professionals in the field with a hand-held device or iPad was “cutting edge” (see the presentation Using Smartphones & Tablets To Improve Services For Consumers, from our 2011 OPEN MINDS Institute for Behavioral Health Informatics and Mobile Technologies in Children’s Health & Human Service Systems, from The 2010 OPEN MINDS Institute for Behavioral Health Informatics). A few years later, Thomas Herzog with Netsmart, in his 2013 presentation, “At The Speed Of Thought: Mobility, Connectivity & Accelerated Innovation In Behavioral Health,” spoke of the potential of the Internet Of Things (see What Is The Internet Of Things, Again?). And, in 2015, David Mohr spoke to the adoption of the 165,000 smartphone apps in the health and human service space in his keynote address, 165,000 Health Care Apps & Counting: What We’ve Learned & Where We’re Going With Digital Mental Health. And now we’re moving to a new era in health and human service infrastructure—passive monitoring and wearable devices.
Over the years, we’ve covered some of the early developments in wearables and passive monitoring—Spry Health Introduces “Loop” Wearable Disease Management Platform, Pittsburgh Start-Up Behaivior To Predict Relapse Through Artificial Intelligence & Wearable, The BRIDGE Wearable Neuro-Stimulation System Offers Alternative Pain Management For Opioid Detoxification, and New Doppel Wearable Actively Alters Mood. And, we have raised the issue of how to fit this “next generation” of technology into your planning in Fitting ‘Invisibles’ Into Your Tech Planning.
But it appears that wearable digital technology will go from novel to normal relatively quickly—see Forrester: Nearly 1 In 3 Americans Will Use A Wearable Device By 2021 and Survey: Nearly 25% Of Americans Own A Wearable Device.
That transition will be the focus of the upcoming keynote address, “Remaking Health Care With Wearable Technology & Digital Health—A View To The Future,” by Andrew Wright, Vice President, Digital Medicine at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. at the upcoming 2017 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute. In preparation for the institute, we recently reached out to Mr. Wright to get his take on how digital technology, including wearables, will “disrupt” service delivery for consumers with chronic conditions and complex support needs.
What do you see as the biggest digital “disruptor” to health care in the next five years?
Disruption will not come from any technologies or solutions but from the end consumer. As health care costs rise, our out-of-pocket burden is also increasing making us more engaged in how and where we spend our money. As technology infiltrates every part of our lives, we are becoming smarter and also more demanding. We quickly adopt new technologies and dismiss them if they do not “naturally” fit our everyday needs. Why should health care be different? Add to it the fact that we all carry devices in our pockets that are more powerful than our work computers, you end up with a scenario where we are forcing a change on the entire health care system. Depending upon who you are in this ecosystem, approach and speed will vary. So from my perspective, disruption has already happened in the form of mobile phones being used for health care applications. The next step is obvious, solutions and technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning will graduate from consumer use to commercial to clinical-grade evidence-based solutions that integrate with a network of solutions to provide a seamless experience to the consumer.
Can you give some examples of wearable tools that are being used to support consumers with chronic conditions? How are the tools being used now and how do you think their use will change over the next few years?
If you just focus on wearables, the market is definitely growing but at a slower rate than a few years ago. But on the other hand, more and more features like accelerometers, heart rate, GPS etc. are being put into the devices. Obviously, the goal is to collect as much health, behavioral, and contextual data as possible. Unfortunately, most of the wearables in the market suffer from two key issues: 1) engagement; and 2) quality of data. As wearable technology improves, in parallel, there is a wave of new tools and apps that are seeking to provide clinically demonstrable solutions to consumers for diagnosing or managing chronic conditions. An example would be AliveCor’s Kardia for EKG which is a $99 device that works with your iPhone to record and interpret EKG for detecting atrial fibrillation. Now consider a recent announcement which said that Apple is working with Stanford and American Well to test whether its watch can detect heart problems. The point is that soon many of today’s solutions will start to converge into fewer platforms.
What do you see as the biggest barriers to incorporating digital tools into standard treatment?
Again, depending upon who you are in the health care ecosystem, these may vary. But from my perspective some of the biggest challenges are poor user experience design, lack of understanding of patient behaviors and needs, digital tools that add to patient or clinical professional workload, lack of interoperability, inflexible technology systems providers, and siloed data.
What advice do you have for executives of direct service provider organizations as they prepare their organization to be sustainable in this future market?
[The answer is] Twofold: Know your customer intimately and help them adopt the technologies that make a meaningful impact on their quality of life; [and] provide the relevant feedback to your partners and help them design the solutions that are missing.
For a deeper dive into the current wearable technologies landscape—and their potential to “reinvent” the delivery of health services, join Mr. Wright on November 7 at The 2017 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for his keynote session, “Remaking Health Care With Wearable Technology & Digital Health—A View To The Future.”