Archive for the ‘Mobile Health’ Category

Pharma Moves Into Digital Health

digital healthThe announcement that Novartis and Qualcomm Ventures have formed a joint venture to invest $100 million in digital health is significant and suggests that big pharma is transitioning from talk to action in the strategy to “move beyond the pill.”

This new move builds on their ongoing relationship, which includes a partnership to use Qualcomm Life’s 2net technology for Novartis’ clinical trials.

What did Novartis see in Qualcomm and why does this partnership raise the bar for pharma?

First, a little about Qualcomm’s technology and how it is relevant for healthcare. The 2net is a device, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, that plugs into a normal wall outlet. There are multiple wi-fi, Bluetooth and cellular technologies built into the device that are able to connect with dozens of different wireless activity trackers, symptom trackers and wireless glucose monitors and then upload the data to a secure personalized web portal, where patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals can review.

Most of the top medical and consumer devices available right now automatically pair with the 2net, so users don’t have to go through the sometimes frustrating “pairing” exercise. This solves one of the “last mile” user experience hurdles to easy device connectivity, especially for consumers who aren’t mobile savvy.

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The Land of Oz

Dr. Oz and celebrity doctors like him have stirred up the medical community. Regardless of what you think about the accuracy of Dr. Oz’s claims and advice, he has created a huge audience of four million viewers who look to him for medical, health and nutrition advice.

While I don’t have the clinical background to judge the truthfulness of Dr. Oz’s advice, I do know that he’s leveraging media and technology in a very fresh and powerful way to enable and support patient empowerment. His platform puts medical and health information into the hands of millions of consumers. Dr. Oz’s approach is filling an unmet need in the medical community: helping patients to truly learn and understand their health.

OzThe Perfect Storm
It really is a perfect storm of trend, technology and media. Patients really want to understand how to live healthier, and cable television and digital media and apps have made access to fresh content cheap, convenient and ubiquitous. But this shift has upset the natural order of traditional patient-doctor relationships.

Physicians working in the traditional health care system are often overburdened and don’t really have the bandwidth to create new ways of doing things. So along comes a physician, Dr. Oz, who is able to break down health, healthcare and medicine in very simple ways that make it accessible to the population – and consumers are embracing that. The magic of Dr. Oz’s approach is that it’s engaging, accessible, simple and motivating.

What can we learn from Dr. Oz?
While there has been negative press about Dr. Oz’s endorsements of weight-loss products, there are people, particularly those who may not have a primary care physician, who use his advice to make decisions about their health. So before we attempt to silence or disparage him, I think it is better for us to look at what Dr. Oz is doing right and what we can learn from his success, especially at the physician level. What can physicians learn from Dr. Oz’s simple, clear explanations of what’s happening in the body, and how can they incorporate that into their patient relationships?

The patient empowerment movement isn’t going away, and we shouldn’t want it to, so it is important for physicians to embrace the patient’s willingness to learn and understand medicine and how it affects their bodies.

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Pharma and its Innovator’s Dilemma

A recent conversation with a friend in the pharma industry validated my thoughts and concerns about the systemic challenges that pharma is facing. The pivotal insight came from my friend’s comment that he wants his next job to be “not just about pills,” but a job that takes on a broader role in healthcare, one that’s more focused on patient outcomes.

This personal revelation was a bit surprising given the fact that my friend’s entire career has been pharma marketing. Promoting drugs is his area of expertise. So why did it take a career “transition” phase to bring about this personal commitment to the need to broaden pharma’s mandate?

innovation highwayWhy not innovation?
The challenges and obstacles that senior-level pharma executives face are extraordinary, especially when it comes to innovation and moving the industry forward. Pressure from Wall Street, business partners and investors who are focused on revenue growth and short-term profitability makes it incredibly difficult for top executives to think outside the box or consider what’s next for the industry or their company.

Every day, pharmaceutical companies large and small are managed to meet performance and revenue expectations. My friend observed first hand how even the long-term planning process (5 to 10 year horizon) doesn’t give senior executives the flexibility to discover and engage in innovative opportunities that might allow them to consider new offerings or business models.

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FDA Loosens Regulatory Reins on Digital Devices

Over the past year there have been a series of draft letters from the FDA on the approval process for medical devices, particularly in the arena of digital health. After several years of being a hyper-vigilant regulatory agency and effectively slowing down the approval process for new products, the FDA has begun to relax its approval requirements, especially for digital health products.

FDA3Historically, the FDA has divided medical devices according to device classification and risk to patient and user. Class I includes devices with the lowest risk such as an activity tracker like a Shine or Fitbit and Class III includes those with the greatest risk such as pacemakers or implants.

The class indicates what level of premarket approval is necessary. Most Class I and Class II devices are exempt from the 510(k) Premarket Notification application. Most Class III devices require full Premarket Approval (PMA), which generally requires clinical data to support claims. Read Full Article Now »

Creating Pharma(x)

pipe1Mention change in the pharma industry today and you’ll get raised eyebrows along with a sarcastic alliterative remark suggesting you must be Sherlock Holmes…

No, the question is not whether change is happening, it’s how you predict, control and channel change to your advantage. Or acquiesce and allow it to happen to you.

Secular industry change is risky and challenging. But it’s only through market-defining challenges that companies and people come out stronger and better poised for the road ahead. Embracing risk and creating ambitious goals is what keeps companies moving forward and ultimately leads to new and exciting discoveries.

Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google, recently commented that as Google takes even more ambitious and costly bets, one would expect their failure rate to go up. But in fact, it hasn’t. And even when they may not achieve an ambitious goal, the path they take often leads to important things. Read Full Article Now »

The Touch of an Imerman Angel.

The phone rings.

It’s your doctor with the biopsy results and the news isn’t good.

Cancer.

Just the word itself takes your breath away. You feel dizzy.

Amidst swirling emotions of fear and uncertainty, you place a call to a number your doctor gave you. He called them angels. Whatever.

Later that day you get a call back from a woman who identifies herself as a cancer survivor. She’s your age and gender and she had your same diagnosis and she beat it. A survivor who knows exactly what you’re going through…

Slide1Welcome to Imerman Angels, the largest network of cancer survivors who volunteer to provide high touch, one-on-one support to cancer patients.

Jonny Imerman, the founder of Imerman Angels and himself a cancer survivor, was on a panel that I moderated at the recent Point of Care Conference in Philadelphia. The other panelists included a pharma marketing executive, a mobile health entrepreneur, and a medical mobile technology investor. Together we explored how technology can improve the physician-patient relationship.

It was very refreshing to have the voice of the patient on the panel, but why was Jonny on a panel about mobile technology? Is it possible to use mobile and social media and still retain the high touch experience of a cancer survivor talking to a newly diagnosed cancer patient? Read Full Article Now »

What will make Patient Data Meaningful to Patients and Physicians?

In my last blog posting I noted that the thousands of health apps available today are beginning to generate good, accurate patient data. But just because the data is accurate doesn’t mean it’s meaningful. Especially when it collides with the real world of the healthcare professional.

There are three important issues that need to be addressed before this surfeit of personalized patient data becomes useful and meaningful to both consumers and physicians.

Data Overload
The first concern is just data overload. As patient devices become interoperable with each other and with EMR systems (a good thing), they will dump raw data, whether it’s heart rate, blood pressure, glucose level, etc. right into the physician’s office. And frankly, doctors just don’t have enough hours in a day to be able to look at and process that information.

If you follow most internists today, they’re in the office all day seeing 15, 20, even 25 patients and then in the evening they’re spending three hours reviewing their notes and lab reports or they’re logged onto their patient portal site to respond to the two dozen patient emails they received that day. We can’t ask them to now review and respond to potentially dozens of patient data streams. Read Full Article Now »

Good patient data is not always meaningful patient data

I’ve been thinking recently about some of the newer sources of health data, namely patient-generated data. My working headline is something like “Good patient data is not always meaningful patient data.”

mobile3I have the distinct sense that our rapt attention to mobile devices, mobile health, patient data, patient-generated data, etc. is all really exciting for those of us who are in technology because we love the idea of sensors and capturing data that could never be captured before and building massive databases and doing all this great regression analysis on it to look for tipping points and trends and turning it into cool graphical reports. It’s fun and exciting and sexy!

But patient-generated data often breaks down when it meets the physician. And here’s why.

There’s a tidal wave of patient generated data from apps and devices that is only increasing. When you read stats about how many tens of thousands of medical health apps there are in the Apple Store and how new devices are being launched every other week, it leads to a deluge of patient data.

Data from patient apps and devices – activity level, heart rate, blood glucose, etc. – is all “structured” within its environment, that’s good, but it’s not interoperable with any other data. This means that the data is seldom integrated with any electronic medical records system (EMR) at the physician level. That’s a problem for doctors wanting (required) to leverage these systems to interact with their patients.

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The Rise of Multi-Channel Healthcare Delivery

eprizeLast week at Health 2.0, the XPRIZE Foundation announced the winners of the Nokia Sensing Challenge, a $2.25 million global competition to accelerate the development of sensors and sensing technology that is smaller, lighter, and capable of capturing true clinical data on a personal level. It was an exciting overview of emerging technology that’s crossing the barriers of mobile communication, nanotechnology, physics, chemistry, biology, material science, and software.

Multi-Channel Health Care Delivery

I write often about the importance of multi-channel healthcare marketing, but this convergence in technology and health will open up exciting new growth opportunities for multi-channel healthcare delivery.

Health traditionally has taken place through three primary delivery channels:

  1. Hospitals
  2. The doctor’s office
  3. Clinics

These channels have evolved over the years in terms of their level and sophistication of healthcare delivery. Even 20-30 years ago, most sophisticated health delivery was only available on an inpatient basis in hospitals. And then in the ‘90s, partially as a byproduct of the Clinton-era focus on healthcare reform, there was a real push to reduce hospital costs, leading to the development of ambulatory care, or outpatient services.

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Three Key Strategies to Drive Better Patient Care

When it comes to health technology and new mobile apps, we often jump right into a discussion about cool features and social media. But the real question should be impact. What positive impact are we having on patients and their physicians, the ultimate gatekeepers?

The bottom line for most physicians is efficiency: “How can I be more productive with the time I have with my patients given the clinical load I carry?” Therefore, a good place to start in any technology impact discussion is how to enhance the physician-patient interaction to make it better and more efficient.

There are three important activities that influence physician efficiency:

 1) Precise diagnosis of ailments

 2) Patient education support

 3) After-care compliance and home monitoring

These are also three activities that can have a significant influence on patient outcomes.

All three of these are time-consuming but critical activities, and all of them can benefit greatly from technology.

1) Precise Diagnosis

Stopwatch1During the typical 15-minute office visit, in addition to collecting as much medical and family history as possible, physicians will review a patient’s symptoms. Very often they’re listening for that random clue that might influence the diagnosis, something that maybe the patient hasn’t thought of or hasn’t remembered since the last office visit.

When a patient walks in a doctor’s office, particularly if they don’t have a caregiver with them, they often are stressed and very often forget or misread symptoms that might have happened at home. It’s kind of like when you take your car into the shop and suddenly that engine knock isn’t there anymore, and the garage guy rolls his eyes and tells you to bring it back when there is a real problem.

Technology can play a supportive role here by capturing a wide range of patient symptoms as they are experienced at home, at work or socializing with friends.

One solution to this challenge is an mHealth (mobile health) iPhone-based symptom tracker. A mobile app can capture relevant patient experience data and efficiently provide it to the physician to inform the diagnosis – information that the patient might not even remember or consider important. By providing additional diagnostic clues, a symptom tracker will enhance the conversation about health between the physician and patient.

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