Jan25

Top Picks From CES 2016

Author Pic CES

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens (left) and Nelson Figueiredo (right)

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens, senior engagement strategist and Nelson Figueiredo, VP, director of technology, applied their experience as a healthcare communicators to identify the most impactful technologies from their year’s CES.

Each year, technologists, strategists, start-ups, major manufacturers, and consumers gravitate to Las Vegas for CES. This is becoming the premier event to showcase new consumer electronics, technology, and products. With the growth of healthcare as a key technology topic, CES is also an important venue for healthcare brands and influencers.

Ogilvy CommonHealth’s Ashley Evens and Nelson Figueiredo spent several days on the floor at CES and have curated the following list of products and technologies to watch:

CaptureProof: like HIPAA-secure Snapchat…only better

CaptureProof is a new HIPAA-secure platform for sharing media and data between patients and providers. CaptureProof allows doctors to monitor patient progress and symptoms, triage via media, consult colleagues, and link to wearable devices and EHRs.

It’s recently been used in pilots for remote physical therapy (reducing in-person appointments by 75% and resulting in an overall cost savings of $7,500 per patient) and its diagnostic capabilities are currently being studied by the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at MAYO Neurology.

Currently an invite is necessary to set up an account. However, we’re in discussion about the various ways brands and agencies can utilize the platform and looking forward to developing partnership opportunities with them.

CaptureProof

Holograms still have show-stopping power

With the exception of Shaq walking the showroom floor, preordering robots, when it comes to show-stopping power, hologram technology still reigns supreme.

The Kin-mo booth caused the steadiest stream of pandemonium and buzz at the event, literally, stopping hordes of people in their tracks and compelling them to ask questions and snap pictures and video.

Here at Ogilvy CommonHealth we’re exploring the practical application of Holograms in medical education and are working on making the technology less cost-prohibitive for use in the field.

Holograms from CES2016

Meet flic, the wireless smart button that could revolutionize the way patients communicate with providers

Flic is a small wireless button that you can stick anywhere. It can be programmed to send data and commands to apps on Android or iOS devices.

Swedish developers, Shortcut Labs, designed flic with simplicity, accessibility and safety in mind. It’s currently being used to streamline everyday tasks like controlling your connected home, selecting entertainment and ordering food and taxis.

But the ease of use makes it an intriguing solution for things like symptom reporting and tracking between patient and provider, treatment adherence, atmospheric or environmental controls, and accessibility for patients with limited mobility.

VR was king at CES and controller tech is on the rise

This year the Virtual Reality headset manufacturers exhibiting at CES were too numerous to count and VR environments demoing experiences in space, tech, automotive, entertainment, health and fitness were among the most engaging booth draws on the showroom floor.

While everyone seems to agree that VR is going to revolutionize medical education, it’s recent advances in VR controllers and the impact that they might have on rehabilitation and treatment methods that we found most inspiring at CES this year.

Two groups in particular, 3DRudder and Rink, are leading innovation in foot and hand controls, respectively, and are excited to explore applications for their devices in the healthcare space. Each offer the opportunity to gamify the treatment process in new and exciting ways and extend mobility exercises into the VR realm.

RINK

Sensum, the marketing industry’s new emotions experts

Turning emotions into data, measuring advertising’s effect on the subconscious, tracking the cognitive unconscious, things that used to be qualitative can now be quantitative thanks to Belfast-based Sensum.

They’re already working with some of the biggest media companies and agencies in the world to measure the effectiveness of messages, customer engagement, and usability.

Whether it’s a live event, or a product that needs to be tested for implicit response, new packaging, or a video message, Sensum has the platform and technology you need to capture the real-time emotional response from your audience.

They’re also the creators of the EmoCam.

CES is proving to be a venue for innovators and entrepreneurs to showcase their solutions for healthcare. As the empowered patient and modern physician begin to leverage new technology for better outcomes, there is an increasingly more important role for connected medicine, wearables, and mobile technology to help us live healthier lives.

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Also posted in advertising, Augmented Reality, behavior change, Brand Awareness, Branding, Consumer Electronics Show, Creativity, Culture, Design, Digital, Global Marketing, Great Ideas, Healthcare Communications, Patient Communications, Physician Communications, Technology | Comments closed
Jan8

Viewpoints @ CES: Joe Youssef

CES LogoVegas baby! It’s the home to Elvis impersonators, endless entertainment, and, come each January, the largest consumer electronics show in the US. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a global technology tradeshow showcasing the latest innovations set to impact our businesses and our lives. Since 1967, CES has been bringing together the most innovative minds across the technology, healthcare, automotive, and robotics sectors, as well as many other industries. Attendees are inundated with a vast amount of futuristic electronics and ideas unveiled each year at the event. And year upon year, this event has become an increasingly hot topic around our agency. Those fortunate enough to attend come away with the feeling they’ve found themselves a golden ticket to the innovative kingdom that is CES.

To get at the heart of what attendees are experiencing during the event, we sat down with Joe Youssef, engagement strategist at Ogilvy CommonHealth and a veteran of CES. Take a look at his firsthand account of how the event has changed and grown in recent years.

OCHWW:
How has the CES evolved over the past couple of years?

JY:
CES used to be an annual tradeshow focused on consumer electronics only. The show has expanded its footprint into all areas of technology: healthcare, gaming, automotive, etc. There is something for everyone in every sector.

OCHWW:
How does CES compare to other industry events (tech, health, etc.)?

JY:
CES isn’t comparable to the majority of industry events due to its diversity and size. SXSW is the only event that comes to mind as being comparable. CES brings a small city of people together, representing different industries, all looking for the latest and greatest tech, trends and business opportunities.

Between the breakout sessions (spanning the multitude of industries), the conference keynote speakers, and the huge the showroom floor exhibiting the latest and greatest tech, it has something to interest everyone.

RINK

Taking out spaceships with our bare hands thanks to Rink, Samsung Creative Labs’ mobile virtual reality controls at CES 2016.

OCHWW:
What themes at CES have shown the most promise over the past few years?

JY:
Wearables and 3D printing have definitely shown the most promise in recent years.

Wearables have become more intuitive, interoperable, and focused on providing meaningful outcomes for consumers. 3D printers are becoming cheaper, smaller and larger in size (depending on whether you are using for commercial or personal use), and have potential to disrupt many industries as innovative printing materials are developed.

OCHWW:
What survival tips would you give to a first-time attendee at CES?

JY:
Don’t try to do everything during your time at CES. Planning is key to enjoying the show and all it has to offer. Pick the top 2 or 3 things you want to do or see each day. There is NO WAY one person can do and see everything CES has to offer. Be flexible. Most importantly, make sure you bring comfortable shoes with you!

OCHWW:
With a focus on healthcare, what are some of the breakout products that have debuted at CES?

JY:
Wearables come to mind. The ability for health care professionals to monitor patients remotely and adjust treatment in real-time based on collected data is a real game changer. Improvements in genome sequencing and reduction in price are quite incredible. The availability of this data can really unlock the keys to curing and treating the ailments of our aging population.

OCHWW:
What makes for a great speaking event at CES?

JY:
A great speaking event starts with a prepared speaker. Someone who knows how to read a room and deliver a speech relevant to their audience is key. It also helps if there isn’t an ulterior motive to sell your goods or services to the audience. It waters down the message and kills your credibility as a speaker. Focusing on delivering an experience that is enlightening and educational is what makes for the best speaking events.

For more information on CES and to see all the action from the ground in Las Vegas, follow OCHWW on Twitter, @OCHWW.

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Oct1

4 Key Takeaways From the OCHWW Marketing Summit 2015

Martha CMO Blog2_ED

Behind the scenes look at OCHWW’s Innovation Lab

The OCHWW Marketing Summit took place on September 24, when attendees from all over the world came together to discuss marketing in the age of person-centric healthcare. Throughout the day, speakers from the pharmaceutical and technology industries echoed four main themes surrounding the state of healthcare today: innovation, personalized medicine, social healthcare, and the vast amounts of health data being generated every day.

Innovation
Innovation must play a larger role in healthcare organizations going forward. According to Chris Halsall of OgilvyRED, it cannot just be a hobby of an organization, it must be the core. As Ryan Olohan from Google Health puts it, “Technology comes at us like a train—you’ve got to innovate or get run over.” Innovation in healthcare comes down to courage, and we must change the culture of healthcare organizations to embrace digital innovation.

Personalized medicine
Personalized medicine is the intersection between biology and technology. With today’s technology, we have the tools to get the full picture of the patient—molecular, clinical, and demographic, according to Niven Narain of Berg Health. With that, we can deliver personalized precision medicine, giving the right patient the right drug at the right time to lead to better health outcomes. Jeff Arnold of Sharecare states that this ultra-personalization of healthcare will empower consumers to take control of their own health.

Social healthcare
Health is the most personal thing there is, but as it stands today, healthcare is the least personal. One of the most significant benefits of technology is facilitating human connection in healthcare. Health is now social, and patients are talking about your pharma brand whether you are part of the conversation or not. Be part of the conversation.

Health data
Vast amounts of health data are being generated every day, and we need a system to parse it to make it useful, according to Bill Evans of IBM Watson Health. David Davenport-Firth of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide states that patients can’t make health decisions if they don’t understand their health data. Cognitive systems like Watson can democratize health insights to better patients’ lives, and responsive and dynamic representations of health data can personalize and humanize patients, leading to better health outcomes.

Healthcare is undergoing a transformation unlike any it’s seen before. Looking to the future, healthcare organizations must be disruptive by embracing innovation and putting patients at the center of everything that they do.

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Sep3

Mobile in Healthcare: The Future?

Mobile Healthcare Blog ImageIn the past few years, mobile technology has changed the way consumers interact with their service providers. Whether ordering a cab to one’s exact location within minutes or getting groceries delivered in a matter of hours, there seems to be an app for everything. The healthcare industry is no exception to this trend. Mobile health data helps patients, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies in new and innovative ways.

Mobile technology is changing the way doctors and patients interact with both the healthcare system and with one another. The fitness wearables trend has put the power of transforming one’s health and body into the hands of the consumer. People use wearables and other mobile devices to get constant data feedback on their heart rate, steps, calories burned, etc. Many of these apps then organize and share this information in an easy-to-understand way, allowing consumers to make better decisions about their health. Patients can also use new apps, such as ZocDoc, which provide up-to-date appointment availability, enabling users to schedule visits with doctors as quickly and conveniently as possible. In fact, even more specific apps exist, such as Castlight, which compares prices of MRIs and other tests to find the most affordable options in a given location.1

Healthcare professionals also use a number of different apps to improve patient care and treatment. Indeed, there are entire sections of Apple’s App Store devoted to apps for doctors.2 Perhaps one of the most useful features in many of these apps is the ability to look up information right at the patient’s bedside. Quickly searching for certain symptoms can save crucial time for both the doctor and patient and may facilitate a more accurate diagnosis. Moreover, certain apps will soon offer on-the-go monitoring functionality, providing live feeds of patients’ vitals right to their doctors’ mobile devices. This continuous supply of information can optimize patient care and improve the healthcare system on a wider scale.

These mobile technologies are not just changing the way healthcare works in developed countries. Mobile has been incredibly helpful in transforming and improving the healthcare systems of many third world countries. This technology helps serve underprivileged societies by “addressing challenges such as reducing material and infant mortality rates, combatting infectious disease, creating awareness of HIV and delivering nutritional health and treatment for a variety of health conditions remotely.”3 CliniPAK360 is one app that has transformed treatment in Africa. The app works by allowing healthcare workers to input symptoms and information about a patient, which is then used to analyze and diagnose serious conditions. Other hospitals in Africa are using phones or tablets with preloaded medical information, which can be critical for saving time and effort in diagnosing and treating patients.

Mobile is also changing the way that healthcare marketers target consumers. Instead of simply “pushing pills,” companies now make their brands interactive and interesting to consumers, helping to change their brand image. Mobile apps help patients track their own health and progress and supply pharma companies with more data to effectively target consumers. Merck created MerckEngage, which provides health tracking services and has over 100,000 users from whom Merck can collect new insights and information. Geisinger Health System also launched an app on a small scale that studied “metrics like patient acceptance and treatment adherence to decide which solutions to these issues could be deployed on a broader scale” based on data they received from the app. Additionally, mobile apps can also help with medicine adherence by understanding which patients do not follow their prescription instructions and targeting them with more precise reminders. Pharma companies can leverage this data revolution to obtain the most accurate and useful marketing information yet.4

I have seen this mobile technology in my short time here at Ogilvy CommonHealth. In the past few weeks, I have helped work on an app which tracks a user’s sleep habits through either manual input or syncing up with a wearable device like Jawbone or Fitbit. This app is mutually beneficial as it helps the owners collect data on sleep habits nationwide, and helps users achieve greater awareness of their sleeping behaviors.

The central theme among all of these healthcare apps is optimization, data collection, and a better understanding of disease perception. Large databases of patient and consumer information now exist, which can be analyzed to streamline and improve patient experience, outcome, and overall health.5 It remains unclear how far these apps can take us, or if a piece of technology will ever be as good as a doctor’s intuition, but the continuing innovations provide a glimpse into the future of healthcare.

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May28

Satisfying Patient Needs Across Generations via Patient Portals

When it comes to healthcare, patients from the “Greatest Generation” to Millennials want three things: 1) a strong patient-physician relationship, 2) easy-to-understand healthcare information, and 3) this information? preferably in a digital format. How do we accomplish all three? Before we answer that question, let’s take a look at how different generations access healthcare information.

Monica Wong Blog Image

The “Greatest Generation” (Age 65+)
While almost 60% of people ages 65 and older use the Internet on a daily basis, this generation of patients are heavily influenced by their doctors when it comes to recommendations, health information and referrals. However, children and caretakers of this generation, Baby Boomers, may also play a role in making these decisions on behalf of the “Great Generation.”

Baby Boomers (Age 45-65)
While this generation is also influenced by physicians, Boomers are more likely than the “Greatest Generation” to research their options, challenge assumptions and rely on peer-to-peer conversations to make their healthcare decisions. 79% of Baby Boomers go online every day or almost every day. A Google/Nielsen Boomer Survey also reported that 78% of Baby Boomers have searched for health information after seeing something on TV. Baby Boomers also influence healthcare decisions of their Gen X and Millennial children.

Gen X (Age 30-45)
According to research done by Smith & Jones Healthcare Marketing, Gen X are only moderately responsive to healthcare advertising. Since this generation is the first to experience the digital age, Gen X shops for healthcare like they do for retail goods and services. They are partial to TV and in-office messages compared to other forms of marketing channels, but they also have a tendency to search for ratings and reviews online, as experience matters to them.

Millennials (Age 20-30)
Like Gen X, Millennials highly value positive patient experiences. They are young and healthy and as a result, they mainly use healthcare for primary care, urgent care and OB/GYN. Online advertising, TV and in-office messages are the best ways to reach them close to the care decision. Millennials seek information from a variety of sources, including online, social networks and word of mouth.

Satisfying Patient Needs Across Generations With Patient Portals
What do these generations of patients all have in common? They want positive patient experiences with their physicians. They want information they can easily understand and they want easy access to it online. So how do we satisfy these needs? Patient portals. Why? Because increasing positive patient outcomes and experiences begins with making physicians more accessible when patients have concerns. Physicians can distribute timely and relevant information to their patients on a digital platform that can be accessed 24/7. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 41% use portals for secure messaging, 35% use them for patient education, and 30% use them for prescribing medications and scheduling appointments.

How Can Marketers Leverage Patient Portals?
By repurposing existing healthcare marketing material and creating a depository for digital assets, these resources can be made available to HCPs who can then share these assets with their patients. Their patients will likely be more receptive to information as it is coming from a trusted source, their physicians, and through a channel they have easy access to. However, there are limitations.

Opportunities to Take Patient Portals to the Next Level
For elderly patients, additional features like the ability to increase portal font size is a simple fix. For digital natives, mobile-optimized portals can facilitate prescription refills and requests as well as schedule appointments. For non-native English speakers, portals available in different languages can dramatically improve patient services. But for those who do not have access to the Internet, we’ll have to find a way to close that gap. If you have any thoughts, please share in the comments below.

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May19

Wearable Wonder: Will They Improve Patients’ Quality of Life?

LeanneLakeBlogImageSizedClearly wearables are “all the buzz” in our industry. Soon our Fitbits, watches and the like will become an essential part of connected healthcare, monitoring our bodies and feeding important data about our health to the cloud to be analyzed by our healthcare professionals. More data in, better outcomes come out—it’s fantastic news. But what if these devices can go the next step and actually respond to the data they are monitoring? Can you envision a future where a wearable device can improve our body’s function and a person’s quality of life in real-time? I recently learned about one that just might.

It’s called the WAK, short for the Wearable Artificial Kidney. This wearable innovation has the potential to be truly life-changing for the more than 400K patients with end stage renal disease who are currently undergoing hemodialysis every day in our country.

For the majority of these patients, treatment is their lifeline, but it can also take over their life. Hemodialysis patients receiving treatment in centers spend on average 4 hours a day, 3 days a week completely immobile—tethered to a chair, tied to a machine. Much like chemotherapy, the treatment that is saving them often makes them sick for hours afterward. In the absence of a successful transplant, they will undergo dialysis until the end of their life.

The WAK is designed to help patients get out of the chair and back into life. It is a miniature battery-powered dialysis device that is worn like a tool belt. It is connected to the patient by a catheter, weighs approximately 10 pounds and offers dialysis 24/7. Some experts believe that in a perfect world, more frequent dialysis would yield better control, however this comes with a tremendous burden to the healthcare system. If proven successful, the WAK could improve outcomes and deliver new hope for patients, reducing their time in the chair and giving them the mobility to go about activities of daily life—a more “normal” existence. The FDA fast-tracked the WAK, and it is currently undergoing its first human trial in the United States. Human clinical trials conducted in Italy and London already concluded successfully.

For me, following the progress of this wearable technology is personal. I lost my dad to end stage renal disease and its complications three years ago this June. During the five years he “survived” on dialysis, I watched his body and spirit wear thin. Early on, the dialysis center gave him the personal connection he needed to share with patients having a similar experience, but soon after getting into the three-day-a-week routine, he and my mom longed to get back the flexibility that every retired person deserves. The ability to hit the driving range with his buddies on a Tuesday, attend his grandson’s football game on a Thursday, or even make the trek to NJ to visit me and my family on a Saturday afternoon.

Looking back, I wonder how the WAK would have changed my dad’s dialysis experience and the burden it placed on both him and my mom.

What’s your wearable wonder?

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Apr15

ResearchKit: A Medical Research Revolution?

Research Kit Blog Image SizedIn what boils down to crowd-sourcing medical information, Apple’s ResearchKit promises to turn the iPhone into a powerful tool for medical research. But will it live up to that promise?

Apple is putting the power of clinical trials in our pockets with ResearchKit, the open-source software framework designed for medical and health research. It will help doctors and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from clinical research participants using iPhone apps, enabling faster insights at lower cost.

ResearchKit leverages the sensors and other capabilities of the iPhone to track movement, take measurements and record data. When granted permission from the user, ResearchKit can access data from Apple’s HealthKit app such as weight, blood pressure and glucose levels, which are measured by third-party devices and apps. ResearchKit can also request access from the user to access the accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensors to gain insight into a user’s gait, motor impairment, fitness, speech and memory.

Several world-class research institutions have already developed apps with ResearchKit for studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Using the built-in templates for informed consent, users decide if they want to participate in a study and how their data—and which parts of their data—is shared. Participants can perform activities and generate data wherever they are, providing more objective information than simply filling out forms for their activities.

More data will be generated through these apps for researchers to analyze than ever before. For example, just four days after its release, Stanford University School of Medicine’s MyHeart Counts app was downloaded 52,900 times, with over 22,000 users consenting to the study. But more data isn’t necessarily better data.

On the surface, ResearchKit sounds like the long-awaited answer to ongoing issues in traditional clinical trial processes, including limited participation due to proximity to institutions running trials, frequent data entry and the integrity of that data and limited data collection.

Apple has created three customizable modules to address the most common elements across different types of clinical studies: surveys, informed consent and active tasks. Programmers can use these modules as they are, build upon them or even create new modules of their own.

ResearchKit initially includes five active task modules that invite users to perform activities under semi-controlled conditions, while iPhone sensors actively collect data. The tasks can be a simple ordered sequence of steps or dynamic, with previous results informing what is presented. In this way, researchers and programmers can create custom apps for their relevant disease states. These modules simply record the data and pass it on to the researchers; Apple does not store it or track it in any way.

Since ResearchKit resides on the iPhone, it will be easier to recruit participants for large-scale studies, accessing a broad cross-section of the population. The data that it collects mostly comes from sensors and other apps; there is little chance of error in the measurements as compared to patients recording their data in paper-based diaries. Even the data that patients will enter themselves into ResearchKit apps will be more accurate: programmers can put limits on that data so that it fits within proper parameters.

Although ResearchKit solves many issues with clinical trials, it also creates some of its own.

Patient population

Apple promises access to a diverse, global population through ResearchKit, but that population might not represent the population as a whole.

IPhone users are more wealthy and educated than the general population, and minority groups are underrepresented in its user base. Additionally, ResearchKit is only available on iPhone 5 and newer models and the latest generation of iPod touch, which excludes a large segment of iPhone users.

On top of that, the patient populations for ResearchKit apps will be largely self-selected: those using the apps are already likely to be interested in their own health. So can the results generated from this narrowly defined population be extrapolated to the population as a whole?

Another point to consider with the self-selected patient population is that app desertion rate can be high, so researchers won’t have complete data from those who don’t finish the trial. This will also bias the data toward better outcomes since those who actually finish the trials are more motivated to see a positive outcome.

Data Validation

There is no validation that participants have a specific condition before they can enter a trial. This lack of verification can further skew the results of the trials. Going forward, tighter controls on who can enroll in each trial by verifying their basic information will lead to better qualified participants and more robust trial data.

Secure Communication

Verifying participants’ information might be hampered by the current lack of secure communication mechanisms between ResearchKit apps and their researchers’ servers.

This is up to the app developers to implement, as is HIPAA compliance and compliance with international research regulations. Even if secure communications are implemented properly by app developers, sharing personal medical information is a sensitive subject—especially with current data breaches. There will likely always be privacy concerns, especially in participants who don’t fully understand how their health data will be used.

Big Data

ResearchKit trials could potentially have hundreds of thousands of participants, each one with the potential to have inaccurate data. How will researchers separate the signal from the noise with such large amounts of data?

Cleaning that data will be a huge job, and further making inferences from that data to the general population could be difficult. Building trust in the trial results in light of the challenges listed here could be an uphill battle with the general public. More thought needed here.

Going forward, simple improvements such as data validation will go a long way toward more qualified patient populations and more robust trial outcomes. But how can ResearchKit be made available to a more representative patient population?

The answer could lie in the open source framework of ResearchKit. Researchers will have the ability to contribute to specific activity modules in the framework, like memory or gait testing, and share them with the global research community to further advance what we know about disease. And since it’s open source, there is the opportunity to expand into the Android realm as well.

On a global scale, Android is the far more popular operating system, and its user base is more representative of the population as a whole. It would benefit these clinical studies if users across platforms could use these apps.

That said, Android has a fragmented operating system with disparate hardware platforms that have differences in their sensors (accelerometers, GPS, gyroscopes), and even in chipsets from device to device. Researchers would have to account for all of these differences and build and test apps across platforms, which is nearly impossible on their limited budgets.

While ResearchKit is not the perfect solution for clinical trials research, it is a good first step, especially when it comes to to clinical trial recruitment, which has been the bane of the healthcare industry for far too long. Results of the pioneering ResearchKit apps—for asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease—will reveal the true utility of such a mobile, global medical research solution.

This article was originally published in Medical Marketing & Media.

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Sep11

Are Apple’s new offerings really ready for healthcare?

RPBLOGApple fans were waiting with bated breath for this week. And in usual Apple style, the company did not disappoint the vast numbers of people who eagerly sat through a staged presentation of the new products Apple will be foisting upon us in the next six months.

The new iPhone 6 is a sleeker, stylish phone with a bigger screen, a plethora of new groundbreaking apps such as Apple Pay, and powerful technology that could make the phone even more personal than it is now.

And as if that were not enough, Apple provided a double-whammy by showcasing the new Apple Watch, a truly innovative and stylish mini device that will change the simple task of telling the time.

With these two new devices, Apple also began to stake a claim in the health and wellness arena.

Let’s take the phone. It comes bearing the next generation of Apple’s powerful M chip—the M8. This chip enables Apple to turn the iPhone into a fitness tracker. The next generation motion coprocessor and sensor will know whether you’re riding a bike, running, or speed walking. It will also be able to estimate distance as well as how far you’ve gone. Finally, it will track elevation, thanks to its very own barometer, which will pick out your relative elevation by measuring air pressure.

All of this data will be collected by the new HealthKit app with powerful and intuitive dashboards and displays to help the owners of the device to begin tracking and analyzing all manner of activities.

The Apple Watch enters a largely unregulated personal health tracker business, taking on Fitbit, Jawbone, and other wearable devices. This is a powerful device. It is a pedometer, a heart-rate monitor, and it comes with a robust array of fitness tracking features, including “rings” to track your movement.

The Move ring will track your normal amount of activity, such as walking. The Exercise ring will track all manner of exercise routines, and the Stand ring will measure how long you stand or sit during the day.

But the watch also becomes your personal coach and will give you customized reminders to reach fitness goals. It will have its own Workout app, which will measure calories, time spent working up a sweat, and a variety of other activities. Finally, it will also gently nag or encourage you toward doing things more slowly than you planned. All of this will be shared with the HealthKit app.

Apple plans to offer a sports version of the watch, which comes with an alloy case that’s 60 percent stronger than the regular version.

The Apple Watch looks like it will become a serious contender in the fitness tracking market, but the steep pricing may make other fitness trackers more appealing to people.

From a regulatory perspective, the Apple Watch, while not being deemed a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be watched closely. The personal health data collected by individuals for their own use is outside the federal laws controlling the use of patient information.

This collection of data opens up a debate on privacy, and as this is health-related data, there will be extra scrutiny on how this data is collected and used, and more importantly, who has access to it.

However, the Feds are closely watching this fast-growing market. The FDA has already issued a list of mobile applications it is watching closely. The list includes software used by individuals to track and log personal data on exercise, food consumption and sleep patterns, and to make suggestions about health and wellness.

The major issue for privacy advocates will be how this personal data is used by the device makers and developers of apps. How marketing uses this data for profiling and targeting will become a place for regulators to identify safeguards.

Apple is also doing its bit and has made it clear to developers of health apps that it wants to protect privacy. This comes on the heels of the broadly covered celebrity hacking debacle that occurred a few weeks ago, opening up a debate about the collection and backup of data from mobile devices that synchronize with the cloud.

Last week, Apple updated its guidelines for health app developers, stating that apps working with HealthKit may not use the personal data gathered for advertising or data-mining uses other than for helping manage an individual’s health and fitness, or for medical research.

The guidelines also say that app developers cannot share data with third parties without the user’s consent.

It will be interesting to see how the FDA, as well as privacy bodies in the more stringent and regulated environments in Europe, deal with the brave new world that Apple is forging for us.

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Mar21

The Future of Wearables at SXSW 2014

SXSW_Logo_2013_BlackBG_CSAs you might have imagined, the conversation around wearables was booming at SXSW this year.  But they weren’t talking about FitBit or Fuelband as you might expect.  They were talking about what comes next, after we’ve quantified our surface vitals.

“I got bored with how many steps I walked every day and quickly got used to the idea that I was never doing enough,” said Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, in a conversation-style session held with Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab.  “The amount we are starting to wear to track our vital signs is crazy, but we are moving beyond vitals very quickly,” Brown went on.

The Affective Computing group at MIT is now taking wearables deeper into ourselves than ever before with conductive skin technologies that can detect stress and, paired with complex algorithms, intuit emotions. In aggregate, Joi explained, this will grant us the ability to curate our lives in ways we couldn’t before.  Historically, our environment and circumstances were akin to a series of accidents and coincidences. The future will be much more intentional.

In the healthcare delivery space, these new technologies will help us treat and understand emotional conditions like anxiety, stress, autism, and others. “Devices like Neumitra will transform the way we think about mental health,” said Scott Stropkay, co-founder of Essential. “Mental health is about brain health, which is analogous to physical health, which can be measured and improved.”

Technologies like Neuma, a bio-sensing watch, help measure stress in real time so we can start to manage it.  Linked to a dashboard and combined with calendars or locations, we can begin to figure out what stresses us out—and what calms us. On a larger scale, we can aggregate that data to help make our communities, societies, and world an altogether less-stressful place.

But there is a moral question to all this measurement and quantification. Sometimes there are evolutionary and societal reasons for the need to deceive ourselves. After a less-than-savory meal at a friend’s house, we are conditioned to say, “dinner was great,” so as not to offend. And we are conditioned to believe it. “What’s interesting,” says Ito, “is that the subconscious always knows, we just don’t always rationalize. In a controlled, unemotional study, we can pick out the liar.”

Emotion- and stress-tracking wearables bring the sub-conscious truth about ourselves to the surface.  And how will these affect things like healthcare?  We are all familiar with the placebo affect, which works both ways. This, in fact, is the basis for the FDA ordering 23andMe, an online genetic testing service that provides ancestry-related genetic reports, to cease providing health-related reports until the FDA works through the implications and figures out how to regulate this new kind of service. “Nine out of 10 cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented. But we spend more money treating than we do preventing,” said Ann Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe. “Everyone makes money when I am sick, but who makes money when I am healthy?”

“Twenty-seven percent of us are wearing some sort of sensor,” explained Dr. Leslie Saxon while speaking on Body Computing. “A new person—from birth until the time they are two—will have more medical record data stored in the cloud than any person who came before them.”

All of this is leading to a new kind of personalized healthcare. The kind of healthcare in which delivery mechanisms happen in real-time and enable informed decision-making.  At an aggregate level, data can aid, inform, and expedite research.

Today’s quantified wearables are a great start, but the future of wearables is contextual, environmental shaping, and behavior changing.

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Feb28

How Can Self-monitoring Best Support Behaviour Change?

3907691Some of today’s biggest public health challenges, such as obesity and  heart disease, can be linked to personal lifestyle decisions. Governments have tried tackling these issues with smoking bans and taxes on high-fat foods, with moderate success. However, personal health behaviour change is needed to make a significant, lasting impact. Can self-monitoring of health information be the answer?

Studies in diabetes, hypertension, medication compliance and weight loss have shown that patients who successfully self-monitor their activities and set personal goals enjoy improved health outcomes and better adherence to treatment 1-6. We now have an abundance of apps and wearable technology at our fingertips to comprehensively track numerous aspects of our lifestyle, analyse results and observe improvements over time. These self-monitoring tools can then be easily integrated into social health networks so that we can share experiences, track our progress against that of our peers, and give and receive advice on how to succeed.

It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 health and fitness apps available. But with this bewildering variety of choice, how can we know which ones will encourage lasting behaviour change?

Easy does it

The apps which make the process of data upload as effortless as possible for the end user are the ones most likely to catch on in the long-term. Devices that automatically record data and synchronise it with online analysis programmes in real time provide a seamless transition and are not hampered by general forgetfulness or lack of time.

Keep it simple

Health information needs to be engaging, and simple enough to be universally accessible. The average person is likely to find sorting the data that matters from what doesn’t time-consuming and intellectually daunting—in fact, many patients who have to actively monitor a condition like type II diabetes don’t always fully engage with self-monitoring for these very reasons.7

Be realistic

Establishing aspirational but realistic goals and providing reinforcing feedback can help bring self-monitoring systems to life and make them personally meaningful.  A recent study into self-monitoring to improve diabetes treatment found that the main concerns patients had with the system were disappointment with unmet expectations and difficulty fitting the programme into the demands of daily life. 1

Collaborate

Ideally, fitness or health tracking app developers should collaborate closely with specialist healthcare providers and device makers as well as social scientists who understand how to bring about behaviour change. Such cross-fertilisation could result in truly useful tools that track fitness alongside other health metrics, such as blood sugar levels or medication adherence.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION: Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com. Please allow 24 hours for response.

1.  Barlow J, et al. Self management approaches for people with chronic conditions: a review. Patient Education Counseling 2002;48:177–87.

2.  Benhamou PY. Improving diabetes management with electronic health records and patients’ health records. Diabetes Metab 2011;37(Suppl 4):S53–6.

3.  Dennis EA, et al. Weight gain prevention for college freshmen: comparing two social cognitive theory-based interventions with and without explicit self-regulation training. J Obes 2012;2012:803769.

4.  Parker R, et al. An electronic medication reminder, supported by a monitoring service, to improve medication compliance for elderly people living independently. J Telemed Telecare 2012;18:156–8.

5.  Ralston JD, et al. Patients’ experience with a diabetes support programme based on an interactive electronic medical record: qualitative study. BMJ 2004;328:1159.

6.  Wagner PJ, et al. Personal health records and hypertension control: a randomized trial. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012;19:626–34.

7.  Choose Control Survey. Choosing to take control in type 2 diabetes. Available at: http://www.diabetes. org.uk/Documents/Reports/Choose_Control_report.pdf (Last accessed May 2013).

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