We’ve discussed previously how medical societies, healthcare practitioners and life science product developers are increasingly concerned about reducing costs of healthcare product development and delivery – both for the developing company and the end patient or consumer. Cost-effectiveness and “cost control” are the new watchwords.
But much of this cost control will come not from cutting R&D budgets or reducing unnecessary tests (though those are important considerations). Instead, a targeted look at healthcare customers and the development of sensitive, intelligent information technology that can track patient progress and capture customer preferences will pave the way to innovative and revolutionary healthcare delivery.
An ideal information system should track product (or service) quality, total patient outcome and the cost of treatment for the entire time a patient is sick. In addition, this information system should monitor and discover behaviors that can prevent illness from happening, or check up remotely on a healthy healthcare consumer (such as a pregnant woman). This will require a “democratization” of IT; a design of systems that anybody can use and that contain metrics that are shared among platforms:
- As Paul Sonnier observed in his latest post, customers are becoming more aware, more informed, and more demanding of healthcare. And they’re getting their information with better IT, using smart phones, tablets and the Internet to get the information they want and need. They’re not waiting for their physicians or life science companies to deliver it.
- Healthcare IT is expanding its focus from the individual patient in a single care setting to playing a major role in public health.
- Today, about 51 percent of physicians use some EHR system (that’s up from 18 percent in 2001).
- While these trends mark a revolution in healthcare, there are warning signs. Although tens of thousands of healthcare apps are now available on smart phones and other devices, many have very limited focus and are quite specific to a certain disease or procedure, and many other programs simply do not work as advertised, according to Alan Labrique, director of the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative. Labrique is one of the first researchers to use academic tools to determine the effectiveness of mHealth programs. For many apps, scale up is problematic; consistent end-user data input is another issue for even the most valuable apps.
Do you think a robust, scalable information system technology could be developed to integrate and handle this new wave of healthcare information and mHealth tools at both the delivery and the consumer level? What are some solutions to scale-up problems (such as not being able to give smartphones to everyone)? How can we integrate and share electronic health data across multiple platforms, while preserving security and convenience? Where does the responsibility for integration lie? We’d love to hear your suggestions.
Tags: democratized healthcare, democratized healthcare technology, healthcare delivery, healthcare information, healthcare technology, mHealth
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Healthcare practitioners and technology developers alike are experiencing new pressures to either reduce delivery costs or to consider cost-effectiveness when developing new products. As an illustration of this new pressure, nine medical societies recently listed 45 procedures that they believe need to be streamlined, or eliminated, to reduce costs associated with patient care.
We at Popper and Company believe that many of these recommendations are fairly obvious, such as not ordering a CT scan or antibiotics for someone with uncomplicated sinus inflammation, or forgoing routine annual electrocardiograms for low-risk, asymptomatic patients.
But these medical society recommendations addressing patient care point to an important issue for life science companies in the business of developing new health products—a need to get away from building revenue projections based on a population-based “screening” mode, and an urgency to shift to ensuring desired ROI based on a personalized one.
The idea of personalized medicine always leaves me with the indelible impression that developers and deliverers should return to Marketing 101—Lesson 1: separate and segment your markets. At the 40,000-foot level, personalized medicine is little more than a specialized way to segment a market. This kind of marketing segmentation—whether it’s ordering tests only for patients who exhibit a strong need or designing a regimen based on a patient’s individual proteomic profile—can be a boon for the whole diagnostics industry, which finds itself at the sharp end of the segmentation spear.
For new product developers, the focus on personalization opens the door to integrate a new information infrastructure. New information system products should be able to capture and analyze costs on an “episode of care” basis, and integrate patient outcomes. Rather than evaluate cost-effectiveness of an individual procedure, an information system should be able to track quality, outcome and cost over the whole disease episode, from the patient’s initial reporting of symptoms to treatment.
This is not the future of health care; this is happening now. It would behoove us not to ignore the segmentation trend; instead, our industry can borrow techniques from others that routinely segment their markets (e.g., automobile manufacturers that make both electric vehicles for short commutes and large trucks for transport), consider total cost of use (e.g., energy consumption over the life of a dishwasher), and integrate outcome and customer feedback (e.g., a consumer report rating).
Have you started to segment your market? If not, how would you start? What impact do you think this will have on costs and their reimbursements? Tell us what you think.
Tags: healthcare industry, healthcare marketing, healthcare practitioners, healthcare technology, healthcare technology developers, personalized medicine
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In a recent Forbes article on the last FutureMed meeting in California, writer David Shaywitz expressed his concern that technology developers are more focused on their technology than with how it may be accepted by health care practitioners. But he also expressed hope that, soon, technology and the practice of health care might experience a meeting of minds (and possibly even hearts).
At Popper and Co., we make an effort to search for technology solutions that can truly make a difference in health care, and often we’ve been skeptical of the “latest shiny new thing.” While I believe that sometimes technology apps appear to be solutions in search of a problem, we are arriving at a point in time when a happy merger between health care and health technology may be feasible. Why?
- Because we (the scientific and technology community) now understand enough about biology to adapt technology to address real clinical problems. Our knowledge of genetics alone allows us to design targeted (i.e., “personalized”) therapeutic solutions.
- Because cost and resource constraints have led to patients being more engaged in the price and quality of their health care.
- Because consumer power has forced many practitioners (and technologists) to consider the “might” of this market.
- Because new technologies facilitate fundamental health service innovation for providers as well as patients.
In response to a related article by David Shaywitz, Popper and Co. strategic advisor Paul Sonnier had this to say:
While we need to be cautious about broad generalizations when it comes to digital health (which includes non-FDA-regulated consumer solutions) and the business sectors where it is having a direct impact, drug development – an area of focus in Mr. Shaywitz’s Forbes piece – is certainly seeing the integration of wireless technologies in a beneficial way. For example, new, “virtual clinical trials” enabled by smartphones and other apps allow patients to register and participate in drug trials without visiting a clinical site. Moreover, monitoring clinical trial participant compliance and relevant vital signs via wireless health devices can provide a greater level of detail and confidence in study data and conclusions, which is also of benefit in obtaining FDA clearance. DNA sequencing, too, which has been described as “bio-digital health,” allows for more targeted clinical trial participant selection and a movement away from population-based medicine. These examples alone illustrate digital health’s potential to improve biopharma’s bottom line and, ultimately, create better, more individualized health care.
Finally, here are some thoughts on the topic from Popper and Co. co-founder Ken Walz:
Many new emerging technologies have disruptive potential; including smart phones for clinical trials, remote diagnosis and data interpretation, for example. And there are some areas of health care in which patients and practitioners may be more amenable to adopting new technology. But not every part of medical practice is welcoming technology with open arms. It’s important to note that many of the areas that aren’t as accepting happen to be the more challenging areas of medicine. To assess the fate of all technology based on its current lack of proven utility in specific niches of health care may be setting the bar needlessly high.
In fact, targeting areas that are less “sexy,” but nonetheless important—e.g., process workflow improvement, better use of sensors, remote monitoring of patient compliance, and online appointment scheduling and lab result access—could deliver a great deal of value through new technology adoption.
Where do you see the most ideal matches between technology and health care? What challenging areas of medicine might be better postponing marriages with technology for another day? Do you have specific questions about the convergence of technology and health care that you’d like to pose to us? Share with us here.
Tags: bio-digital health, cyber health, digital health, digital technology and health, health technology, healthcare technology, telemedicine
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