By Brooke Faulkner, freelance writer, @faulknercreek.
The proliferation of wearable mobile-connected devices has done a lot of good for people trying to lead healthier lives. People are able to gather data about their sleep to help them get better rest, track insomnia, stress, and exercise, and keep up to date on their own daily routines and health.
Many of the devices exist not just as trackers but as ways for people to motivate themselves to exercise more, go to bed at more regular times, and other little things that slip by in the daily grind.
Healthcare Data in the Modern Age
Sleep is absolutely related to health. Many health issues affect our sleep or are caused by issues with sleeping. A number of medical professionals are interested in how, when, and for how long we sleep. These days, that information is stored in digital medical records, which have a number of advantages. Specialists can access information far more quickly and easily to help us with medical problems.
There are, however, disadvantages to medical records being easily accessible and easily updatable. Privacy and security have become major concerns for healthcare providers, as the records contain our most sensitive information, which proves highly valuable to hackers.
Official medical records, however, are just the tip of the iceberg. We use the internet not only as a go-to for advice about medical conditions, but as a method to voluntarily record all sorts of data about us. Recording, storing, and tracking sleep data on our personal devices gives us a lot of power to “do it yourself” when it comes to preventative health and tracking changes in our sleep patterns. This ease of use, however, comes with a cost. It’s not all about sinister hackers, either; that data can be used in all sorts of ways that are, while not outright damaging, at least partially invasive.
Wearables, Bluetooth and Data
Tech companies are working on more advanced ways to use high-tech devices to track our sleep. These include wearables and even devices that don’t need to be attached to the body. The amount of information gathered, and its accuracy, varies greatly by device. The Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to store, track, and share the data the devices collect are parts of their appeal.
The number and type of people who benefit from this information is vast. Sleep disorders are a common side effect of other medical disorders, and managing sleep is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, especially for people who are at greater risk for certain conditions.
You don’t need to have or be at risk for medical complications to make use of sleep data, however. There are plenty of careers in the U.S. which require people to work long or unconventional hours. Night shifts and long shifts, such as those worked by nurses, can cause havoc with the circadian rhythms that regulate our sleep. This can create complications for otherwise completely healthy people. Being able to self-regulate with the help of wearable devices is a great advantage.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has created a new resource to help physicians extend care beyond the exam room with technologies that are “changing the way patients interact with healthcare.” The Digital Health Implementation Playbook offers a guide to the most efficient path for applying digital health solutions including key steps, best practices, and resources to accelerate and achieve digital health adoption. The AMA made this announcement in conjunction with the Digital Health Collaborative and Connected Health Conference.
Physicians are optimistic about the potential of digital health innovation to benefit medicine and expect to use more digital health tools in the near future, however, complex factors inhibit adoption. During an AMA-convened summit this year, innovators, researchers, physicians and decision makers warned that adoption and implementation of digital health solutions can be difficult and time-consuming.
“Implementing digital health technology has been a challenge for those without a clear course to success,” said AMA chair-elect Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H. “The AMA is committed to making technology an asset, not a burden, and the Playbook provides the medical community with widespread access to a proven path for implementing digitally enabled health and care. The Playbook’s road map is based on institutional knowledge and best practices convened by the AMA from a wide array of experts in the field.”
The Playbook is designed for care teams and administrators in medical practices of all sizes and areas of specialty. The Playbook is a living document that will be updated to include new content over time. As the Playbook evolves, it will provide a helpful 12-steps process to guide the implementation of a variety of digital health solutions. The first six stepsare fundamental to the implementation of any digital health solution. The subsequent six steps focus on specific digital health solutions and the unique considerations relevant to that specific technology.
Currently, the Playbook provides resources for the implementation of remote patient monitoring (RPM) using devices, trackers and sensors to capture and record patient generated health data outside of the traditional clinical environment. RPM provides clinicians the opportunity to apply patient generated health data to improve the management of chronic disease and engage patients in their own care.
As more connected devices and wearables are validated as accurate, reliable and effective health care tools, the medical community is increasingly looking to integrate digital health and mobile health technology into medical practices to better understand and manage chronic diseases outside of the practice environment as health care shifts toward value-based reimbursements.
The current decade has seen the boom of wearable tech. Today, we have embraced this tech and are using it in daily routine. Apart from being a fashion statement and geeky, these devices serve a noble purpose. They watch out for you. Yes, they keep an eye on your health and help to save you against several issues. In the following, I will explain that in detail.
Wearable tech comes in several forms including:
Most of these products contain sensor collect raw data. They feed this data to a database for analysis. The analysis triggers a response. The response can be an alert to a physician to contact the patient suffering from abnormal symptoms. These can help the doctor communicate with the patient and give them advice.
People who spend their time juggling between tasks more likely ignore their health. This negligence makes the test consume more time and delays reports. Therefore, wearing something that remains in contact with human skin to continuously and carefully monitor someone’s activity and fitness in real time can have its benefits. In short, wearable tech offers timely awareness on various health issues to both the patient and doctor.
With that said, following are four ways that help healthcare services improve their approach:
Real-time health monitoring
The rapid growth in tech has improved remote health monitoring. The real-time health monitoring devices are playing an important role and the products are developed to consider cost, usability, accuracy and security of data.
The technology also facilitates two-way communication between the doctor and patient, offering up-to-date healthcare information. The RMS system comes with two interfaces, one geared toward the user, and the second one designed for the doctor. The patient interface contains wearable sensors to extract medical data of the patient.
The listening port transfers information to a web server that accesses the data for doctor’s interface. For instance, a remote monitoring device with diagnostic framework finds an underlying health issue in real time. It can help avoid a potential health issue and let the patient recover. This system is compatible with several wearable sensors to extra the data and helps to learn different parameters including:
These parameters help to detect severe issues beforehand.
Healthcare centers like Beach Pain Center encourage the adoption of modern tech in a fitness routine. Wearable tech helps people with their fitness resolution, improving their chances of success. Fitness wearable helps to monitor or even tracking fitness metrics as the distance walked on run calorie consumption and even quality of sleep. These trackers sync to a computer for real-time tracking for health-related data.
These trackers are geared towards fitness maniacs or people trying to achieve a healthier outlook, like practicing chiropractic. It guides the user towards success.
Somatix is a leader in wearable-assisted gesture detection for real-time health intervention and well being enhancement.
Elevator pitch Somatix is a leader in wearable-assisted gesture detection for real-time health intervention and well being enhancement. Somatix derives physical and emotional symptoms from simple hand gestures, utilizing sensors built into a range of wearables to remotely detect, analyze, gain insights and act on massive volumes of body motion data. The platform additionally employs machine learning and advanced analytics capabilities to apply personalized CBT (cognitive behavior therapy)-driven intervention that increase individuals’ treatment adherence and improve people’s lives.
Eran Ofir is the CEO and co-founder of Somatix, a real-time gesture detection platform for effective healthcare intervention, utilizing sensors built into a range of wearables to remotely detect, analyze, gain insights and act on massive volumes of body motion data. Eran has 20 years of experience in executive roles with multinational companies, where he established and led business units at Orange, AOL Mobile, Amdocs, Convergys and NCR. Over the last decade, Eran has lived and worked in Israel, South Africa, China and the US, selling software platforms, hardware, services and consulting to customers in telecom, internet, retail, utilities, financial services and healthcare sectors. Eran is a Tel-Aviv University graduate in electrical engineering (BSc) and finance-marketing MBA.
Somatix targets organizations with clear financial interest in maintaining high employee, customer and patient health levels, driven by the requirement for technological innovations capable of enhancing preventative healthcare and rehabilitative treatment.
Our G2M strategy aims to directly sell to clinics and hospitals bearing the impact of changes in payment arrangements for the services they render, health insurance companies whose profitability is constantly being eroded by mounting healthcare expense reimbursements and senior corporate human resources managers offering employee benefit programs.
Smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion annually, nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity. The global smoking cessation and nicotine de-addiction market is expected to reach $21.8B by 2024.
The population addicted to smoking is rapidly increasing. The growing desire to quit smoking and health complications associated with smoking serve as incentives for companies to introduce novel solutions and drive the growth of the smoking cessation and nicotine de-addiction market.
Who are your competitors?
We identify two types of competitors: big-data analytics and solution specific companies; most are smoking cessation consumer mobile apps. None of the other existing smoking cessation solutions in the market today offers the four key benefits we do (see competitive advantages below), and in fact most don’t even offer a combination of two.
How your company differentiates itself from the competition and what differentiates Somatix?
SmokeBeat is superior to other smoking cessation solutions, mainly because it:
Automatically detects smoking gestures.
Enables clinicians to passively monitor, follow up on and enhance smoker adherence with prescribed cessation treatments.
Provides complete, ongoing awareness of treatment success vs. predefined goals; delivers information-rich statistics on smoking routines, including number of cigarettes consumed, smoking time of day and location, long-term impact on health, financial costs and more.
Employs machine learning and analytics to generate personalized CBT-based interventions.
By Poornima Venkatesan, senior consultant, Virtusa.
In today’s value-based care environment, patient engagement is a vital key to success in clinical outcomes. This is especially true for chronic diseases such as arthritis, where continuous care is necessary because of the disease’s physical, emotional and economic impact on patients. Although the advent of specialty drugs in the past decade has made disease control possible, clinicians still face challenges in patient care because patients’ preferences about therapy aren’t often considered.
Understanding patient goals and expectations
While a clinician’s goal is to achieve remission, a patient’s goal could be clinical or nonclinical and varies depending on their individual characteristics and demographics.
Patients from low-income countries such as Morocco expect access to primary care (never mind rheumatologists), support services and education about the disease. The high expenses related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in such countries result in poor treatment compliance, school absenteeism in children and deterioration in quality of life. Comparatively, even with excellent health insurance systems in the United States, one in six adults with RA reduce their medication use because of high out-of-pocket costs. Most patients expect cost-effective care. In wealthier countries like the United Kingdom, patients expect increased social connectedness and family support.
Elderly patients expect reduced pain, fatigue and side effects, whereas young adults expect independence and normalcy from their treatments. Women, who are most affected by RA, might expect a lesser impact on family life and childrearing.
If such multidimensional expectations are not met, patients tend to discontinue their treatment. As new biologics and non-biological complex drugs (NBCDs) are developed, patient adherence is essential in determining both therapeutic and potential adverse effects. Studies reveal that frustration towards the method of drug administration (like self-injection) also impacts adherence. In the U.S alone, the total cost of non-adherence is estimated between $100 billion and $289 billion annually.
Therefore, it is important for the patient and the physician to trust each other and have open discussions about treatment strategies and expectations to ensure better alignment and cooperation.
Measuring patient engagement
The first step towards patient engagement is awareness of their current engagement levels. The patient activation measure (PAM) tool is helpful here. PAM measures the attitude and knowledge of patients about the disease and treatments. Studies have proven that highly activated patients have better outcomes via increased medication adherence, resulting in lower healthcare costs through fewer ED visits, hospital admissions and re-admissions. By continuously monitoring activation levels, providers can measure sustained changes in patient behavior and personalize their care programs.
We can also measure engagement levels by taking advantage of data. Data derived from direct [electronic health records (EHR), claims] and indirect sources (wearables) provide a holistic view of an individual patient. Simple analytics applied to population data can predict patient behavior. For example, analytics can help providers know which patients are likely to miss their appointments, which patients will fill their prescriptions on time, and so on. Detailed patient-based data could also lead to better and more accurate diagnoses and treatments.
Digitalization is inevitable: Technology and healthcare are becoming more inextricably linked as new innovations and discoveries are made. Many health-related devices and services have been created in recent years with the express purpose of improving everyone’s quality of life. As a result, many international healthcare companies, like Now Health International, are now implementing innovative digital solutions to deliver better healthcare services.
Recently, broad steps are being made in the field of preventive medicine – below are some of the top digital solutions for preventive healthcare.
By now, just about everybody wears a fitness tracker or a smartwatch, or owns a smartphone. The ability to count steps to measure one’s activity level is a great start, and is only the beginning. Vital signs data can now be collected by devices we have on us, which can then be automatically analyzed and sent to your healthcare provider in order to provide crucial information as to your state of wellness.
You can also be alerted to the amount of calories you’ve consumed, reminded to go for a walk or do some stretching exercises, or even take a short break. Sleep monitoring apps collect data while you doze and provide you with helpful information on how much rest you were able to get on any specific night.
With remote monitoring, the need to go to a clinic appointment can be greatly reduced as well. Even big companies like Apple are working on a way to determine blood sugar levels in a non-invasive way, which can change the lives of millions of people suffering from diabetes.
Traditionally, health agencies rely on doctors, patient surveys, labs and research studies to collect information on pathogens and outbreaks of diseases. In the event of a serious outbreak, early reporting and progression tracking is critical to getting treatments out quickly and effectively, as well as preventing its spread. Digitalization is changing the way we respond to infectious disease outbreaks with portable genome sequencing as well as epidemiological surveillance and remote monitoring.
Disease Outbreak Prediction
Computers are helping health care professionals in the field calculate how fast a disease can spread, how many people will be affected, and determine which patients should receive priority care. The epidemiological web platform BioCaster mines text from social media platforms, blogs, and news sites to gather information on a specified area that may be a hot spot for an outbreak. There is also the option of receiving warning alerts via text or email to help users keep themselves safe.
We put a lot of faith in health technology: to make us better, to save our systems, to revolutionize healthcare. We may be looking at it from the wrong side entirely.
The social determinants of health matter more than our ability to deploy doctors or provide insurance; physical and mental, health is always more social than clinical.
But most of our health tech that is supposed to be revolutionary is aimed at clinical factors, rather than the social determinants of health. Yes, telehealth can increase reach, but it is still just a matter of touchpoints, not a fundamental change to the lifestyles and cultures that determine health.
Same with all our EHR systems creating more ways to record information, more ways to quantify patients, to put more emphasis on engagement and quality-based reimbursement. Even genomics and personalized medicine are taking a backseat to soliciting reviews and trying to turn the patient experience into a number. It all puts greater focus on the clinical encounters, on how patients “feel” broadly about each minute aspect of their time in the medical facility.
A Digital Disease
As politicians trade blows on minimum wages and the ACA, the likelihood grows that insurance benefits and livable incomes (and lifestyles) will get pushed further out of reach for more people.
Modern work is tech-centric, which means lots of sitting, and manages to facilitate increased snacking without being particularly physical, a double-whammy that prevents employment or higher incomes from leading to healthier choices. For the less-skilled, normally accessible jobs are in the sights of automation and disruption. While tech is taking over medicine and opening up new possibilities, it is also transforming the labor market and closing countless doors to workers.
By extension, technology is changing the social framework that determines public health. Income inequality is growing, wage growth is stagnant, and no amount of awareness can change these front-of-mind concerns for people who may well want to eat better and exercise more, or even commit to seeing the doctor more often and following his or her advice to the letter.
Poor people can’t necessarily eat better as a simple matter of choice or doctor’s orders. Planning meals and purchasing healthful foods is a tax on limited resources–time as well as money. Working three jobs to pay the bills, many lower income individuals also don’t necessarily have time to exercise. And more likely than not, those working even high-paying jobs are sitting all day, sapping their bodies of energy and resilience, undoing the good of their intentions and smart devices alike through attrition.
Mobile technology is impacting every element of American healthcare–from insurance and billing to documentation and caregiving, the impacts are being felt. The truly transformative element of the mobile revolution is not the technology itself, or the way it changes the look and feel of the tasks it affects. Despite complaints of the depersonalizing effect of technology, the ultimate value of mobile in the sector will be how it enhances and encourages communication.
Providers are Going Mobile
Already, flexibility and functionality have already drawn providers to mobile devices and solutions. Voice-to-text technology and similar automated solutions are in the offing to relieve the documentation burden that has dampered some amount of enthusiasm toward digitization. Bolstered by these advancements, caregivers will go from subjects of their EHRs to masters of patient encounters.
One of the huge benefits of mobility — as opposed to simply being networked on desktop computers or having a digital health records solution — is the capacity for greater native customization and app development. Native apps are like the currency of the mobile, smart device world providers are entering. Developers can deliver personal, branded interfaces that allow doctors to choose precisely how they want their dashboards to look, giving their EHRs a custom touch that has been sorely lacking throughout their implementation.
App-centric development will further reduce the friction of adoption and utilization, giving doctors a sense of empowerment and investment, rather than the bland inertia that has carried digitization thus far.
The personalization of the technology through app development will help boost adoption, and return the focus to what the technology enables, rather than how it looks or what it has replaced. Mobile technology’s strength will be in reconnecting doctors and patients, and creating bridges of data and communication across the continuum of care.
Patients are Going Mobile
Patient-facing health apps and mobile point of access to care combine convenience and cost-saving with a learning curve. Increasing the visibility of EHRs through mobile portals gives patients greater reason to develop some basic health literacy, and levels the playing field during doctor encounters. The more providers use mobile solutions, the more incentive patients will have to do the same.
When apps are connected to prescription management and can monitor adherence to treatment plans, mobile devices provide a two-way mirror enabling doctor and patient to remain connected long after the encounter is over. This can allow providers to better anticipate and intervene where drug abuse is at risk, as well as to prevent ED admissions and re-admissions beyond what telehealth has been able to achieve.
Even without connecting providers, mobile health apps will also support personal health management, with an eye to prevention as well as education. From diet-planning to workout tracking and even disease management, patients have more ways than ever to study their bodies and better understand their unique wellness needs. As providers and their EHRs evolve to integrate mobile patient-generated data, the potential for customization will make each encounter more conversation-driven, using data as a platform to educate, engage, and advance communication.
All these personal, data-rich conversations will help push prevention and population health into front of mind for a generation.
The impact of the digital revolution is widespread, but arguably few industries have felt the impact more than the health informatics field. From medical mobile applications to vital-monitoring wearables, smart technology is taking the health care world by storm and remodeling patient care delivery.
Over the years, health informatics has strengthened provider-patient relationships and empowered patients to take control of their health care. But that’s just the beginning. Here’s a look at how health informatics will take shape in 2017 and continue to be one of the most promising fields for STEM careers.
Improving Patient and Hospital Information Security
Cybersecurity is top of mind for health care specialists as the world grows increasingly reliant on technology. From large retail chains to voting polls, cybersecurity breaches are on the rise. And hospitals are no exception. Earlier this year, a hospital in Kansas reported a cyber attack in which the hackers forced the hospital to pay a ransom in exchange for unfreezing their data.
Understandably, hospitals are desperately seeking new ways to improve the security of their data. Hospitals are addressing vulnerabilities by making security a part of their existing governance, risk management and business development initiatives. By building more secure network infrastructures and educating all staff, hospitals are able to better protect their information in the short term. In the longer term, it will come down to hiring more security specialists to identify and correct security threats. This is why the cybersecurity field is taking off and more individuals are earning cyber security degrees to gain entry into the field.
Decreasing Healthcare Costs in the Long Run
Before things get better, they tend to get worse—and that seems to be the case with healthcare costs. At first, the cost of health care will rise as hospitals and physicians’ offices purchase and implement new systems. But once the upfront cost has been covered, these new systems and machines will decrease operational costs for hospitals by simplifying daily processes.
On the other hand, individuals seeking health care will see the long term benefit thanks to the increased efficiency of electronic health records (EHRs). Since EHRs provide a comprehensive overview of health history, it will become easier to identify potential health risks and administer treatments early on with fewer doctor visits. Early detection and diagnosis is key to lowering health care costs and, ideally, making us a healthier population.
Most people are familiar with wearable technology today and how they track information related to health and fitness of the wearer or the person engaging with it. One in five American’s now owns a wearable tech device. The focus on wearable tech is on for both the consumer as well as the health care providers and the health insurance industry.
Susan Hahn-Reizner, who is on the advisory board of Northwestern School of Professional Studies, has put together a comprehensive infographic that looks at how wearable technology is changing the healthcare services industry.
The Current State of Wearables
The use of wearable tech is still in its infancy; however, users are starting to weigh in on both the benefits of wearable technology as well as the unmet expectations that come with it.
The most popular wearable devices in the market are fitness bands and smart watches. On the consumer side of wearable tech, 56 percent of consumers believe the average life expectancy increases at least 10 years because of wearables monitoring vital signs. Forty-six percent of consumers also believe wearable technology can help them to lose weight and maintain a more active lifestyle.
On the flip side there are many unmet expectations that come with wearable technology. Abandonment is a big issue with wearable technology with more than 33 percent of wearable device consumers using the device less or not at all after a year of purchase the device. Another big issue for consumers is privacy and security breaches that come with this technology. Eight-two percent of consumers have concerns because of invasion of privacy and another 86 percent worry that wearables make them more vulnerable to security breaches.
How Health Insurance Companies Are Pushing Wearable Technology to Consumers
The health insurance company Humana began using wearables to reward fitness activities with reduced premiums, gift cards and health devices. A three-year study of employees who participated in this program showed a 44 percent decrease in the number of sick days taken.
BP distributed 16,000 FitBits to its employees as part of a larger healthcare plan for its workforce. This helped to drop corporate healthcare costs well below the national growth rate. Over the course of 25 years, it’s estimated that wearable technology and remote patient monitoring technologies could help to cut hospital costs and save more than $200 billion. As you can see wearables can help to put a huge dent in cutting healthcare costs.