Data, Prediction and the Future of Healthcare

Guest post by Ted Spooner, CEO of RespondWell.

Ted Spooner
Ted Spooner

Anyone who grew up playing video games ought to have a greater appreciation for the future of healthcare.

When they moved out of the arcade halls and into living rooms, video games became more accessible to more people. And when a wave of fitness-related console titles were released in the late 1990s and early 2000s — Dance Dance Revolution, EyeToy: Kinetic, and Yourself!Fitness/My Fitness Coach — women joined in the fun. By 2014, a study by the Entertainment Software Association revealed that women represented 48 percent of the gaming population in the United States, and the addition of this untapped market allowed the gaming industry to make the pivot that would eventually merge gaming with healthcare.

The title character of My Fitness Coach was Maya, a virtual personal trainer. Maya was the agent who coached couch potatoes and weekend warriors alike to reach whatever fitness goals they might have. A doctor, similarly, knows what’s best for patients and has a reason behind every instruction — and the difference between the virtual video game trainer and the Ph.D. isn’t the vast ocean it once was.

With innovations from FitBit and Jawbone for wearables, Biosensing to Augmedix and Entrada for electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical workflow apps, as well as direct competitors such as Doctors on Demand and TeleDocs, traditional healthcare institutions are facing consumer-direct competitors whose products and services are almost exclusively based on the use of self-care technology. A new wave of innovation is coming soon. Venture funding of digital health companies surpassed $4 billion in 2014, nearly equivalent to the previous three years combined.

So, what’s next?

Self-care apps like FitBit, RespondWell, Caremerge and others that feed a patient’s data into a cloud have the potential to enrich clinical observations in ways that the occasional hospital visit cannot. If you have a device producing conclusive data that says “your heart rate is higher than it should be,” “you’re taking too many pills,” or “you’re walking with a gait,” a physician can say with confidence “something bad is going to happen to you.” Predicting a person’s proclivity for injury and illness is more of a science than ever.

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Patient-Centered Healthcare Through Better Technology

Edward Keiper
Edward Keiper

Guest post by Edward Keiper, president and CEO of Velocity Managed Services.

Patient-centered healthcare technology is putting the power of good health into patients’ hands. All of the changes in American healthcare regulations point to one top priority, and that’s patient centered care. Why does this matter? Because patients who are empowered to manage their own health are more likely to be proactive and, theoretically, therefore healthier.

Knowledge in the world of healthcare can be a great thing, and the technology community is responding with thousands of apps and other healthcare IT initiatives, such as activity tracking devices and websites designed to help consumers keep close track of their wellness.

One of the most popular wellness devices, FitBit, figured prominently in a recent study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery“Functional Recovery in the Elderly After Major Surgery: Assessment of Mobility Recovery Using Wireless Technology” is a great example of how providers can reap more value from investment in health IT. It turns out that patients who monitor their activity are more likely to engage in self-care.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic provided FitBits to 149 post-surgical heart patients. The researchers determined that using the FitBit to monitor mobility wirelessly was “easy and practical, and led to a significant relationship between the number of steps taken in the early recovery period, length of stay and dismissal disposition. The research indicates that an activity monitor such as a FitBit could positively affect post-discharge outcomes by empowering patients to take their recovery into their own hands. Better discharge outcomes leads to lower costs in the long run. This is just one example of many.

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