It’s not news that technology-enabled innovations are major drivers in the transformation of care delivery. Cutting-edge solutions are re-organizing provider workflows and delivering real-time data analytics to improve outcomes, lower costs and empower both acute and chronic care patients to be their own best advocates. What’s new is the emergence of tech-enabled services that are taking aim at specific parts of chronic disease and specialty care.
I’ve also been having a bit of fun with creating a new site called SMACK.health, which uses the new .health domain extension. Well you knew you needed both a new definition to replace the fuzzy term “digital health” and .com is so 1999! But what am I talking about when I use the term SMACK.health, and why? I was asked to write a piece about technology in health for USA Today spin-off, and I’ve repurposed it here to celebrate the official .health launch.
There’s a big change coming to our health care experience — driven by technology. Health care is moving from a point-in-time event to one of continuous care. Think of your last doctor’s visit. You probably had a few minutes with a rushed clinician and were sent on your way. The next steps, such as correctly interpreting the instructions, getting prescriptions filled and figuring out next steps was left largely on you. Yet, most conditions, like diabetes, heart disease and asthma, require continual monitoring and management to avoid painful and costly complications. In fact, what happens outside the doctor’s office is more important than that meeting in it.
A new way
Relying on the old point-in-time interventions doesn’t work. To this point, most hospitals and doctors have only had information tools that record what they did in the visit or during the procedure. Instead, SMACK.health technologies will enable clinical teams to perform continuous care. SMAC stands for Social & Sensors, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. These are the underlying technologies behind what we now use every day — Skype, texting, WhatsApp, iTunes, Facebook, Google, Amazon, et al. To reach patients wherever they are, thousands of relatively new companies are building similar technologies and services that will help a combination of today’s clinicians and tomorrow’s automated artificial intelligence systems manage patients — and help patients manage themselves. And hopefully they’ll be doing it with a big dose of empathy — hence our adding the “K for Kindness” to the SMACK.health lexicon.
The other big change is going to come in what we use those technologies to do. For sure, patients are already way, way better informed than they were 15 or 20 years ago. They can access great content online, including information shared by other patients on sites like PatientsLikeMe, MedHelp and Smart Patients. Patients and their caregivers will use those tools to be better informed about their care and inform each other and their clinicians. But that’s not all. We are already seeing services like American Well, Teladoc and DoctorOnDemand (sometimes provided by current health insurers and hospitals) enabling video visits. A whole range of cameras, sensors and medical tools will make those services, and a host of others, better able to connect patients with clinical solutions.
We are also going to use new technology to diagnose and treat. Computer algorithms from companies like PhysIQ are already remotely reading abnormal heart rates via disposable patches. Soon, a range of devices will be in the bathroom reading your spit, poop, blood, breath and vital signs. Companies like Philips and Nokia and startups Kinsa, uBiome and CloudDX are bringing them to market. They’ll first be used by the sickest patients, but soon they’ll be mainstream consumer goods. Finally, mental health, physical therapy and more are already being delivered by avatar-based artificial intelligence like Ginger.io and Reflexion Health.
The health care system faces huge changes adapting to the realities of these new technologies. But when it does, it will improve the experience for patients and clinicians. And it will bring patients and society better health outcomes.
Matthew Holt is the publisher of THCB and Chair, Health 2.0 Conferences
A little while back I caught up with former Health 2.0er Robin Berzin. (I first ran this video interview on Facebook). She’s a functional medicine doctor and now CEO of Parsley Health, a direct pay/concierge functional medicine clinic that also uses lots of new health tech. It’s operating in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Robin has an interesting model and is also looking for help. (And I’m running this ad for love not money!) Any MDs out there wanting to try a new route, see her blurb below the interview.
Parsley Health is hiring top primary care doctors at its centers in NYC, SF, and LA. At Parsley Health we practice whole-person Functional Primary Care focused on nutrition wellness and prevention along with advanced diagnostic testing. In addition we are building a groundbreaking new technology platform for primary care and offer both virtual and in-person services. If you are a physician and are looking to join a collaborative modern practice please visit our job description here or email your CV to [email protected]. Preference given to board-certified internal medicine and family medicine trained MDs with additional training in functional medicine. Additional clinical training available.
Amanda Goltz is a massive ball of energy in the world of digital health. For the past 2 years she’s been working for English pharma company BTG. But how does a pharma company get involved in health tech without wasting everyone’s time, and what exactly are they trying to do? Amanda certainly has both opinions and a plan. Today part of that plan became official with the purchase of Oncoverse, a cancer management program BTG has been working on with Wanda and Dignity Health. I spoke to her Monday morning my time to find out more (and yes, if you wait to the end, there is both a job “offer” and I have my own BBC Live home office moment!)
One of the more interesting companies playing in the analytics space is Ayasdi. We’ve featured them at Health 2.0 a couple of times, but at HIMSS I got a chance to talk a little more in depth with chief medical officer Francis Campion about exactly how they parse apart huge numbers of data points, usually from EMRs, and then operationalize changes for their clients. The end result is more effective care and lower variability across different facilities, for example changing when drugs are delivered before surgery in order to improve outcomes. And increasingly their clients are doing this over multiple clinical pathways. They’re really on the cutting edge of how data will change care delivery (a tenet of our definition of Health 2.0) so watch the interview to hear and see more!
Bridget Duffy, the CMO of communications tech company Vocera & head of its Experience Innovation Network, is a national leader in the patient experience movement. And we all agree there are lots of improvements needed in the experience for both patients and front line clinicians. Anyone following the story about the death of my friend Jess Jacobs last year knows that there are problems a plenty in how patients are treated (pun intended). Bridget talked with me at HIMSS17 about how well we’ve done and how far we have to go.
SAP is a giant of ERP but over a decade or so has been layering both new acquisitions in analytics (Business Objects, Success Factors) and developing the Hana “cloudfirst” data platform. They’re actually a quiet giant in health care, in part because of a partnership with Epic. But the next step is providing what they’re calling a “democratization of data analytics” allowing line managers & clinicians to really understand what’s happening at the coal face of care delivery. It’s a complex space, but one David Delaney, Chief Medical Officer at SAP, explains in this interview from HIMSS17
Continuing my series of interviews from HIMSS17, is one with Robert Armstrong, CEO of Appstem. Appstem is one of the companies that quietly builds most of those ubiquitous mobile apps branded by health plans, pharma companies and a large number of product companies too. It’s an example of the hyper-specialization going on within technology, as even well funded product companies start to use companies like Appstem to build onto their partner APIs and build out their portfolios. An interesting niche and one that’s a lot more important that you’d think–it’s well worth a listen to Robert to find out more.
One of the more surprising announcements at HIMSS17 (or anywhere so far this year) was that a company led by some well known health tech veterans has both invested a ton of money and been off the ground for some time, while being very quiet about it. Integra Connect is the company and it’s a tech and services company providing ACO/APM/MACRA/ MIPS-type services for high cost specialty care (think cancer). CEO Chuck Saunders was at Aetna’s Healthagen group (and before that Broadlane/WebMD/EDS and some others I forget) and the Chairman (and source of most funding) is Raj Mantena who built several companies in the specialty pharmacy space (inc ION and Oncoscripts). Integra Connect already over 1,000 employees and several large physician groups as customers and I spoke with Chuck about the (high cost and pretty large) niche they’re in and how they’re working.
Continuing my interviews with various health tech players from HIMSS17, Julie Yoo MD may be one of the brightest people in health IT. She and her colleague Graham Gardner founded Kyruus to deal with one of the most complex problems in health care. The issue is the patient accessing the right doctor/provider, which is somewhat equivalent to getting everyone in the right plane to the right vacation (or in computer speak “load balancing“). While this sounds simple it’s a very complex issue with both a huge data problem (tracking which doctors are available and do what) and a rationalization issue (what patient needs what). Julie explains the problem and how Kyruus works with provider systems to fix it.