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Tag: Healthtap

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 21

Jessica DaMassa asks me everything she can about health and technology in just 2 minutes. Including the firing of Ron Gutman at Healthtap, what happened at Dev4Health, gesture company Klue’s deals & Tom Price’s temporary lobotomy reversal. It’s Health in 2 point 00–Matthew Holt

What if Google Does It?

I’m a nerd. Instead of watching Hollywood movies, I watched the entirety of Google’s 3.5 hour keynote from their recent developer conference, Google IO. I really appreciate watching and learning from technology companies operating at spectacular scale. They put on quite a show (at least for geeks like me).

One hour and eighteen minutes (the link should take you the right spot in the video) into the keynote, Google executives unveiled new discovery and curation features for the Android Play Store for apps for teachers to use in class. Google hired a team of educational content experts to review and curate in-class apps. Google will release certified apps to a special section of the Android Play Store that educational IT staff and teachers can peruse.

Google will also provide tools for educational IT admins to centrally manage and distribute those apps throughout the school per teacher, class, grade level, and more. Google is dramatically simplifying IT management in large bureaucratic organizations that can’t attract top IT talent. This is a godsend for teachers who have wanted to deploy apps in class, but who haven’t had the necessary IT support.

This is a brilliant concept. In highly regulated, slow changing industries such as healthcare and education, the biggest barriers to adopting and integrating third-party apps into the core workflows are fear of inaccurate information and IT distribution and management challenges. Google is doing a tremendous favor for the educational system. This move will materially improve the uptake of in-class apps.

Obviously, this begs the question, “Why doesn’t Google do the same thing for healthcare?” Happtique and Healthtap recognized this need some time ago. They’re curating apps and providing IT infrastructure services to help manage and distribute those apps to employees along different job functions, roles, locations, etc.

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A New Grassroots Movement By Doctors

There’s a new movement in healthcare – and it’s growing from a surprising place.  Instead of emerging from government or industry, it’s budding from the grassroots –from everyday physicians. The movement is democratizing health information and giving birth to a new landscape: Interactive Health.

Interactive Health is transitioning clinical care from real-world, costly encounters to virtual, inexpensive, cloud-based care. And the view from the cloud is better.  This transformation is starting with the most fundamental interaction in healthcare: patient question, physician answer.

In late April of 2011, HealthTap decided to help facilitate this movement by bringing together physicians to engage online and create a roadmap for “care in the cloud.” Nine months later, the growth of physician engagement on HealthTap and beyond proves that Interactive Health is here to stay.

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The Emperor’s New Social Network

You can’t get much cooler than HealthTap: slick Silicon Valley start-up, social media darlingsavvy and successful backers. But when you closely examine the service HealthTap actually provides, the money and good looks fall away. Like in the fable about “the emperor’s new clothes,” behind the buzz, there’s nothing there.

OK, maybe one thing: a really risky way to get medical advice.

Here’s how a Feb. 4 New York Times article described the company’s website:

[U]sers post questions and doctors post brief answers. The service is free, and the doctors aren’t paid. Instead, they engage in gamelike competitions, earning points and climbing numbered levels. They can also receive nonmonetary awards — many of them whimsically named, like the “It’s Not Brain Surgery” prize, earned for answering 21 questions at the site.

Fellow physicians can show that they concur with the advice offered by clicking “Agree,” and users can show their appreciation with a “Thank” button.

So far, so good. But there’s more. The professional credentials of the physician answering your question, such as a board-certified specialty, are not available on the site. Instead, you get a crowdsourced “reputation level” built up by accumulating HealthTap awards, by  clicks of approval from other doctors and by other measurable activities at the site.

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Getting Better

In my last column, I discussed the need for a better way of connecting the discrete healthcare-related problems identified by patients and physicians with solvers who might be able to develop a solution – perhaps an immediate fix, perhaps a longer-term effort.

I’m grateful for the volume of feedback received about this idea, which has included specific suggestions from patients; an introduction by several CEOs to a range of relatively-new efforts designed to tackle different key elements of this idea; and a few frustrated entrepreneurs who poignantly describe their struggles trying to change a fairly intransigent system.

A few observations about some of the online patient communities that I’ve encountered: First, there appear to be a number of patient-support (peer-to-peer) communities, both disease specific and more general. Several in the general category (e.g. MDJunction, Inspire, HealingWell) seem at least superficially similar; presumably the user experience depends upon the level of participation within a particular patient community.

Other models seem obviously distinctive: for example, AskaPatient provides fairly detailed patient-submitted reviews of various medications; the prose tends to be a bit less dry than the typical drug label – for example, a recent user of one neuropsychiatric medication reported that “Having an orgasm is like smashing a pimple. I am not sure if I want to continue taking this drug.” Yes, think that one over.Continue reading…

Silicon Valley roars back…in healthcare too?

Recently, the Wall Street Journal has been writing article after article about how Silicon Valley is suddenly as hot again as in 1995. And anyone driving into San Francisco these days will have views of the city obscured with big “we’re hiring” billboards from the Groupons, Zyngas, Rockyous, and whathaveyous of the world.

In the past healthcare innovation and startups/new value creation has proceeded independent of that tech-scene and it has been much slower, dominated by buying behavior from giant incumbents who thought NIH stood for Not In Healthcare. But as my colleague and Health 2.0 co-founder Matthew Holt likes to put it: change starts at the edges. And we have seen Health 2.0 start small at the edges with the growth of patient communities, followed by other models connecting patients, payers, and providers in new ways (e.g. American Well, athenahealth, Castlight).

On May 18 SDForum is organizing a one-day event highlighting the change that is afoot in mainstream healthcare as a result of the innovation from the edges reaching the shores (and more) of mainstream health and wellness industries.

I am introducing the first keynote speaker (Holly Potter from Kaiser Permanente) and moderating a panel on one of my favorite topics: how data and innovation in analytics can make treatment and wellness decisions better, and hence create value, for all involved. While 80% of presenting companies are young (from only a few months in existence to 5 years from initial funding), there are also some pioneering established companies (Kaiser Permanente, Safeway, PAMF) who will touch upon topics like:

  • how ONC’s push for ‘data Liberacion’ is one of several forces helping to make health decisions more data-driven
  • how mobile/unplatforms, cloud-computing, and innovative use of analytics create new opportunities to understand patient behavior and introduce new, smart interventions
  • how chronic disease treatment is starting a transformation (funky billboards in LAX not withstanding, Lisa)
  • how new entrepreneurial energy is being backed by more and more funding (Healthtap is one of the companies who recently received funding and who will be on the panel that I moderate, Doximity is another company that fits that bill)

Finally, while some companies in general tech  or consumer markets seem to pursue growth without a business model, this event shows how companies in healthcare who get it right (e.g. Limeade), can grow fast, do good, and become financially viable businesses. Maybe one day the WSJ will report on the exciting IPO window of healthcare technology innovation companies for a change. In the meantime, come and see what the future will look like by hearing from those who are building it now.

Marco Smit is President of Health 2.0 Advisors, the market intelligence arm of the Health 2.0 family.