Archive for September, 2012



Digital Health Gets Extended (Television) Coverage

September 26th, 2012
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Digital health is propelled by many different drivers: genomics research that allows for inexpensive, accurate sequencing (and biomarker discovery), smart phone and internet technology that provides consumers with access, and the increased power of consumers to demand remote healthcare services. Perhaps as a symptom of this increased demand (or at least awareness), we’ve observed digital health as a topic on two popular television shows.
 
Recently, Dr. Eric Topol, author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine and an advocate of these drivers who provides much commentary on digital health, appeared on the television show The Doctors. What was significant about this appearance?

     

  • He reached a large, mostly consumer audience with the message of digital health and the innovations that are happening vis-à-vis empowerment provided to patients by mobile devices.
  • He introduced biomarkers for certain diseases and the sensing technologies for them, and showed how powerful the combination can be in disease prediction and prevention.
  • By illustrating the power of a smart-phone attached electrocardiogram, he underscored the notion that consumers/patients will be connected to their doctors remotely.

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The Physician’s New World of Consumer-Driven Healthcare: A View from Eric Topol

September 25th, 2012
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We’ve had a lot of discussions about the waves of changes happening in healthcare, thanks to smartphone- and internet-fueled consumer power. In a recent Popper and Company post, Caroline Popper discussed how consumers’ access to information, expectations from the medical profession, focus on wellness (instead of disease) and determination of value are changing the industry.
 
Dr. Eric Topol, author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine, presented another face of this consumer-driven change; the effects on doctors. In this Medscape video presentation, Dr. Topol suggests that doctors, no longer the sole holder of personal health information, will need to change how they approach their practices as well as their patients.
 
Consumers are getting health information from many sources. For example, companies like Walgreens are increasing the information content of their consumer interactions. By educating its customers on the data generated by the devices Walgreens sells, patients have more knowledge of their own condition – and a knowledge base that does not start with the physician. Thus, the patient enters the doctor’s office with a more thorough basis of information and more challenging questions. This information base may make physicians uncomfortable, just as direct-to-consumer ads from the pharmaceutical industry have discomforted many. But, as Dr. Topol points out, physicians will continue to have an important role; it’s just going to be a different one.’
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Health IT’s Sharpening Focus: Calibrating Health Care

September 19th, 2012
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Sometimes the state of healthcare seems more like the movie “Snakes on a Plane” rather than the symbol of the serpent entwined on the Rod of Asclepius (the Greek god associated with healing and medicine). The movie title alone conjures pretty frightening images. The good news is that the rising numbers for healthcare investment, information technology spending, and consumer behavior related to their healthcare choices reveal a course change that’s not reptilian at all: 

  • According to a recent report in MedCity News, healthcare spending on telecommunications will outpace overall healthcare industry growth rates—climbing to $14.4 billion by 2017, at an annual growth rate of 10 percent.
  • Venture capitalists and incubators are researching both life sciences companies and IT companies—they could create matches between life science innovators and IT to spur more digital health innovations.
  • Improved networks and information technology are allowing providers to leverage their traditional medical care resources (e.g., hospitals, clinics, equipment) across a larger base of remote patients. These networks and electronic health records (EHR) will allow collaboration among clinicians, care teams, patients and provider organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

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A 30,000 foot View of Digital Healthcare, with Both Feet Planted on the Ground

September 17th, 2012
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The flight had leveled out when the cabin announcement called for a doctor. A passenger was in distress, feeling chest pains. Cardiologist Eric Topol, author of the Creative Destruction of Medicine, answered. He pulled out his smartphone, which had an electrocardiogram attached, and placed it on the suffering passenger’s chest. He quickly was able to assess the patient’s condition: a heart attack.
 
This is not the future of digital health. It’s happening now, as we learn in this radio interview on iHealthbeat (the California Healthcare Foundation’s radio show) with Dr. Topol; Chuck Parker, executive director of Continua Health Alliance; and Paul Sonnier, our head of digital health strategy.
 
Here are a few excerpts:
 
Parker: “Individuals recover better, and it’s less costly, to manage them at home, rather than inside of hospitals or long-term care facilities.”
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A New Healthcare Model Rising from Tradition’s Ashes (and Tim Berners-Lee)

September 10th, 2012
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Marketing is dead,” proclaims a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, adding that traditional marketing (i.e., advertising, corporate communications, PR, overall branding) doesn’t work anymore. Consumers are finding more personal ways to make buying decisions and increasingly do not value general “push” efforts (other than perhaps to become aware of a product/service).
 
But what of healthcare? The perspective in the HBR post helps us understand that traditional provider-dominated sharing of healthcare services is also dead. We’re beyond the point of believing what we’re told, particularly if the person doing the telling is a representative of a company and thereby being paid to endorse a particular product or service.
 
Instead, the model has shifted to one of validation. Consumers conduct research, join online community groups, and listen to trusted influencers. These developments are everywhere now:  discussion groups (e.g. PatientsLikeMe), which connect people by diseases, can often provide more information on an individual’s specific symptom/disease than physicians who, limited by time, tend to be more generally focused.
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Drawing an Infographic Line on Healthcare’s Future

September 4th, 2012
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Predicting the future is a risky game; too often, the prognosticator is wrong. But the exercise can be valuable, because it forces an analysis of forces driving technological and other change, and of what challenges may lay in the path of change.
 
Recently, an infographic on emerging technology published in MedCity News charted several paths that predict how (and how quickly) technological change is likely to occur; this infographic included healthcare innovations. While the graphic resembles the independent lanes of an electrophoresis gel (or an Olympic swimming pool for those of you who may have spent less time in the lab), many of the technological advances profiled are intertwined: for example, telepresence (predicted for 2024) could merge with certain advances in robotics as well as the advent of synthetic biology to develop a remote way of delivering cell therapy that was created entirely in a laboratory.
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