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.
At the same time, however, healthcare costs are rising, in part, due to the nature of how many Americans seek treatment and manage their own health conditions:
This all makes for very expensive healthcare delivery.
Something has to give; but what?
- Chronic management is starting to move from the ER and doctor’s offices, while home monitoring and mobile monitoring is growing. The current market for home blood pressure monitors is $1 billion, glucose monitors is $7 billion and markets are growing for blood coagulation monitors and home-based cholesterol testing kits.
- Online physician-patient visits are growing and 39% of doctors now communicate with their patients through email. The U.S. Veterans Administration showed that telehealth resulted in 25% fewer hospital bed days, and 19% fewer admissions.
- Several companies in the U.S. and elsewhere, small and large, health and non-health–related, are coming up with solutions to care for patients at home utilizing various platforms and devices.
- Kiosks and mobile units are springing up across the country to bring healthcare to the consumer.
How can we continue on this journey toward even more healthcare efficiencies?
Calibrated care refers to ranking patient-provider interactions in order of severity, much like an automated telephone system works in customer service for other products. It determines the lowest interaction mode necessary (via the web, a smart phone or tablet), and can use software programs to measure need (e.g., Is this a prescription refill? A need to change dosage? A complaint of chest pains?), and determine the right interaction level. Moreover, software is under development (with more on the way) that saves data from every interaction to aid in follow-ups.
While some nurses report feeling their jobs are threatened by telehealth, nursing has historically embraced innovation and new ways to improve patient care. A recent report on nurse-led telehealth intervention for diabetics resulted in a significant reduction in HbA1c levels.
While doctors may be slow to adapt to changes and insurers are not fully confident, the bottom line is: consumers are demanding these changes. More than 80% of consumers want more internet-based information on their health, and Kaiser Permanente reported that 87% percent of seniors using its online health record system were happy enough to pay for it.
Ultimately, these innovations will allow a fully remote, digital version of Patient-Centered Medical Homes (which will, of course, depend on having the right technology to make them work). This new focus could create a real movement toward digital health and make it a significant part of our healthcare system.
Do you think a software-based calibrated care system could work? What possible obstacles could there be? Could these systems reduce healthcare costs? In what specific ways? Share your thoughts with us.
Tags: consumer behavior in healthcare, Health Care, health IT, healthcare costs, healthcare efficiencies, healthcare investment, healthcare IT
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Sometimes, between the hotel room, the lectures, the networking, the power lunches and the data consumption at a conference, you’re on the plane home before you have time to reflect upon why you attended in the first place. I’m excited to be heading to the 18th International Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference in San Francisco this week—and I’m setting out my reasons for going this year beforehand.
I always look forward to this conference because of its balanced range of life science topics, including those with technical, scientific, business, strategy, regulatory and reimbursement slants. Within this balanced range of topics, the Tri-Con uses a channel structure to help attendees “tune in” where they can get the biggest bang for their buck. I’m excited to learn more about the following specifics within each channel:
- Diagnostics—Rapid changes are taking place on the diagnostics stage this year. Personally, I’m interested in molecular diagnostics, personalized diagnostics, cancer markers and circulating tumor cells (CTCs). I’ll be tuning in to discussions on the adoption and integration of the next generation of sequencing, companion diagnostics and the use of/characterization of CTCs.
- Drug discovery & development–Here, sessions promise updates on translational science, including the use of biomarker technology to support drug development.
- Biologics–This is a vast topic, but I’m especially interested in discussions on the study and use of stem cells. I’ll be looking to learn more about the applications of stem cells to support drug testing and for use as therapeutics.
- Cancer–For this channel, I’ll be focusing on sessions related to companion diagnostics, stratification of patient populations (including predictive and prognostic markers), and recent developments in pathway-driven or targeted drugs (a.k.a., personalized medicine).
- Informatics–Within this area of focus, I’ll watch for updates on methods to analyze integrated data types, workflow management and more.
The integration of each of these channels (which include more than 250 presentations), the focus throughout on industry-changing and trendsetting technologies, and the quality of keynote presenters is what distinguishes Tri-Con from other industry events. It also doesn’t hurt that more than 70 scientific posters will be displayed and that the exhibit hall is packed with vendors that present their latest products and technology (often in a manner that enables you to dig in and understand the role of the product/technology in the R&D process).
In addition to all of the educational aspects of the conference, I’m also looking forward to meeting thought leaders in many of the disciplines, and to connecting with Popper and Company clients and colleagues who will be attending.
If you’ll be there, please comment below or drop me a note, and let’s plan to connect. If you’re not attending, but are interested in any of the channels above, I hope you’ll tune back into our blog for my follow up piece post conference. As for now, I’m leaving on a jet plane…
Tags: 18th international molecular tri-conference, biologics, cancer markers, ctcs, diagnostics, drug discovery, Health Care, informatics, life sciences, medical devices, personalized diagnostics, tri-con
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As one of the nearly 8,500 attendees at this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, I’m not alone in recording my observations. However, while the crowds and the climate are still fresh in my mind, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share some of my key takeaways. If you were there, please feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section. If you weren’t, let me know if you have any questions about a point I’ve made or curiosity you had about the conference that I haven’t covered.
Also, whether you attended or not, you may want to check out the ruminations of TheStreet.com’s Adam Feuerstein who blogged “live” from the conference as well as In Vivo’s Blog on the subject and the prose of the IR Report’s Dominic Jones.
- Fire codes be damned: Attendance was up significantly from last year with the number of registrants approaching 8,500 compared to closer to 7,200 last year. It is difficult to imagine that the Westin could accommodate any more people, yet apparently there is unyielding resistance to a change of venue. I think this is a case where tradition trumps fire code.
- Optimism prevailed: Or, more to the point, everyone we talked to expressed their opinions that “there seems to be a greater sense of optimism.” To the extent that economics is, in large, a measure of a function of human behavior, this “sense of optimism” may be good enough to get things moving in the right direction again.
- Realism in Health IT: Among the health IT companies, I noted a sense of realism. Some executives in this space acknowledged that the federal stimulus funding directed to their industry – rather than the must-have nature of their products – may be a primary reason for the growing interest in that space.
- mHealth wasn’t in the house: One thing that we did not see or hear much about was mobile health, probably reflecting the public company nature of this event. Most of the activity in the mHealth space is dominated by privates or large publics for whom mHealth is a tiny piece of their life science business.
- Moving systems closer to point of care: Part of the mHealth story is increasing efficiency, often at the patient or consumer level. Efficiency was a feature mentioned by several instrument companies looking for ways to move systems closer to point of care.
- Social networks playing a role in wellness: Finally, though the conference was largely dominated by pharmaceuticals, devices, and research tools, there seemed to be an uptick in the number of mentions of wellness and the role of healthy behaviors and decisions in preventing disease and illness. The power of social networks to effect behavioral change is clearly a part of this mix.
Tags: 2011, conferences, Health Care, J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Ken Walz, life sciences, mHealth, Pharmaceuticals
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