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Our connected health selves are not quite there

Enthusiasm is plentiful -- broad deployment is harder to find. For some topics, it may not be that important what year this is or what health-related event we attend – the lamentations are the same. I have been lurking around the Connected Health Symposium for a number of years – and when it is all said (and said and said again), investment in consumer health tech is at crazed levels, but actual healthcare system utilization is still hard to find. Prowling the sparsely-planted exhibit hall and the speaker agenda, it seems pretty much where we left it last year – what matters most to a hospital system conference like this? Is the future of healthcare actually healthcare at home? Given the vast brick-and-mortar Partners Healthcare establishment, not soon. Expect to hear that topic again.

Mobile, mobile, everywhere – will we be thriving through innovation? Making health addictive, patient engagement; wearable and smart phone applications -- fighting obesity is, uh, very big this year, though Weight Watchers may not be the battle plan du jour. Wearable fitness trackers and on-body devices are hot-hot-hot, as is care coordination and, of course, that still-not-broadly-deployed but compelling stand-by, telehealth. One session called "Lessons in taking Connected Health to Scale" was actually about significant difficulties in taking it to scale. For example, the California Healthcare Foundation’s Margaret Laws spoke about the struggle of converting endless remote patient monitoring pilots to actual usage. Meanwhile, stalwarts like robotic VGo remote-control tele-consultation units, the ever-funded Intel-GE Care Innovations, and Ideal Life were still present, but not anywhere near adoption tipping points of their various markets. No matter, ever onward.

Catching on -- speed-dating innovator presentations. This symposium offered up two rounds, 10 participants each, of rapid-fire presentation/demos. This is becoming the very welcome template for startup company presentations. We are in the age of far too many Kickstarter requests and a percolating plethora of incubators and accelerators -- too many to count and too many companies to survive. Take a quick look at a few: TechStars, Bizdom, CITRIS Foundry, 1776DC, The Startup Factory, Cambridge Innovation Center at MIT (175 companies!), and Forbes Top Ten List of incubators. For these new entrants, learning to present your value proposition in four minutes or less has become Job One. And visuals matter during these quick tours -- for example, the Kinect-using Reflexion Health, Inc. software for measuring whether you are doing your prescribed physical therapy routine correctly.

Not present, not much accounted for – the connected health of seniors. This symposium touched many topics, but pretty much avoided directly discussing the topic of seniors, their lack of technology utilization, the non-tech talking Medicare and/or its 49 million participants. Even though most states have decided that telehealth makes a difference in keeping Medicaid costs down and that private insurers most cover remotely delivered care (in rural areas). Even though pilots have come and gone and been regurgitated yet again in new locations, CMS still waits for proof, still granting innovation awards that study, but do not broadly reimburse, remotely-delivered care. Meanwhile Medicare penalties for patient readmission will rise next year. Seriously, is prevention the key to controlling revolving door readmission? Seriously, is the key to keeping these seniors at home a combination of greater emotional connection and improved patient engagement? What about mitigating loneliness and isolation? Could remotely delivered telehealth services help? Wait until next year for answers. Only the doctors know for sure.


Thanks for the report, Laurie, since I couldn't attend. Here's one more complaint about things NOT happening: is anything going on to help people with dementia and their family caregivers? Over five million Americans have some stage of Alzheimer's now, not to mention vascular dementia (stroke), other progressive neurological disorders, brain injuries, etc. It's a growing problem, and the family caregivers are under great amounts of stress trying to keep their loved ones safe, happy, and home. Are we the only company addressing that need? Memo has been working flawlessly for family caregivers for over a year now. It's not that I'm asking for competition - I just wonder why others aren't dealing with it. Have you seen anything?


I applaud you for addressing this massive explosion in interest in mHealth, connected health, patient engagement, etc. In most cases I agree, there is a lot of noise and, to be honest, misunderstanding as to what patient activation and patient-centered really means.

That said, I must have done a pretty poor job in my 4 1/2 minutes (ironically, 2 presenters after Reflexion) because the video I showed specifically addressed an elderly patient, Allen Brown, and how he can be connected and supported in a unified way.

While that video is not online, it was a derivative of this one located on YouTube http://youtu.be/NQEI12pZbo8

This particular video was developed for a project called HealthLinks being put in place in Ontario Canada to better coordinate care for, and serve the population of "frequent flyers" who are often elderly.

This solution is in place, is being used, and is scalable. While our customers and the researchers we're working with continue to evolve their new models of care-delivery and in the process, are now delivering care to an ever-expanding population of patients, rest assured, "Connected Selves" do exist, and are reaping benefits.



From the website:

"Pharmacists who are caring for seniors or other clinically complex patients will find NexJ Transitional Care Management and NexJ Medication Adherence ideal tools for delivering Medication Therapy Management services. Providing these added services may qualify for additional revenue from various insurance plans as part of MTM services."


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