The 2018 Security Metrics Guide to HIPPA Compliance is a great source of security tips and regulatory insights on how to protect patient data from attack. It provides benchmark data on what other institutions are doing. Read More
Second MedTech Impact Expo & Conference reinforced critical connection between technology and healthcare
The second MedTech Impact Expo and Conference took place from December 15-16, co-located with the A4M/MMI 25th Annual World Congress. The event focused on assisting healthcare practitioners and professionals to better serve their patients through the use of medical technology and devices, while understanding the transformative effects of newly developed products and equipment. Speakers and sessions educated attendees on groundbreaking scientific research and education, supplemented by the most progressive equipment and medical technology.
The conference agenda included keynote speakers who discussed the multitude of ways to leverage data, manage patient privacy and security, understand legal implications, and gain insight into care collaboration software and collaborative health teams. Pablos Holman, self-described ‘futurist and inventor’ discussed “Inventing the Future of Food,” describing the revolutionary shift in the way food is prepared through the advent of 3-D printing. Holman has consulted worldwide on invention and design projects that assimilate the newest technological advancements. Entrepreneur, innovator, professional speaker, and author Robin Farmanfarmaian explained how to utilize and apply technology in order to empower patients and consumers. Chief Medical Officer and Head of Healthcare and Fitness for Samsung Electronics of America Dr. David Rhew focused on the applications of technology to improve and expand the landscape of healthcare.
Other lecturers included Reenita Das, Partner and SVP of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Frost & Sullivan, and Dr. Michael Nova, Chief Innovation Officer of Pathways Genomics, discussed the ways in which health technology wearables and machine learning can be integrated into modern medicine and healthcare. Bryan Boda, Head of Business Development at Fitbit Health Solutions, described his work regarding population health and consumer activation, while Dr. Arlen Meyers held an interactive workshop session that focused on how to become a medical advisor to companies, at all levels of product development.
About MedTech Impact:
The goal of MedTech Impact is to help healthcare practitioners and professionals better serve their patients through the use of technology, by utilizing devices and products that help track progress, assist with diagnoses, and ultimately support injury and disease prevention. By connecting attendees with the most recent and innovative scientific research and education, MedTech Impact envisions helping clinics, hospitals, and private practitioners protect and build the infrastructure of their practices by utilizing the most recently developed and cutting-edge devices, equipment, and technology. For more information, visit www.medtechimpact.com.
The primary issue that consumes the majority of the burden of healthcare costs in the United States is preventable chronic disease: while the most prevalent health conditions are simultaneously the most avoidable, they continue to cost the country’s budget billions of dollars. While overall numbers have decreased since 2010, when chronic disease cost the U.S. a total of $315 billion, morbid obesity rates have continued to rapidly spike—a condition that leads to a range of critical health issues including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Primary care providers have long faced the struggle of determining how to implement best practice care for patients diagnosed with chronic diseases. Recent studies indicate that almost half of the entire U.S. population has at least one chronic health condition—including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, or arthritis. Statistics designate these health care treatments costs to account for 86% of cumulative national healthcare spending, and the CDC reports that chronic conditions are the leading causes of death and disability in the country.
Yet the past decade has seen the advent and proliferation of digital health technology, spurring the generation of new techniques and strategies for healthcare professionals to utilize in chronic disease management. These types of technology vary in terms of accessibility and usability, but include remote monitoring, mobile health apps installable on phones, and wireless wearables—which serve as activity trackers.
A series of interviews conducted by Medical News Today demonstrate a bright future for the potential of new technology, and its ability to spur and provide high-quality care. Suzanne Falck, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, noted that a highly successful digital tool is currently in use for the management of heart failure: an implanted sensor immediately transmits data to a healthcare practitioner, who then analyzes the data in order to make medical recommendations. Further clinical trials and studies indicate that remote monitoring is more cost-effective than traditional, conventional management.
Moreover, the burgeoning popularity of medical apps signifies that mobile technology can make a hugely positive impact on chronic disease management. There are currently approximately 259,000 medical health apps available to purchase; over half are aimed at targeting consumers with chronic conditions. Clinical trials have repeatedly shown that patients with type 2 diabetes who utilized an app to monitor their blood glucose levels showed greater benefits than those who did not. A recent article in Diabetes Technology& Therapeutics states that the prognosis in patients with diabetes is ‘strongly influenced by the degree of control of their disease,’ which reinforces the effectiveness of self-management support through mobile apps.
Another innovative and exciting development is wearable technology and devices, which are currently being studied in a variety of clinical research settings. Many healthcare providers believe that the ‘potential of this technology is endless,’ as they can improve access to care while simultaneously enhancing convenience—and likely patient compliance.
Most importantly, being conscious of medicinal needs and treatments requires a consistently high level of responsibility and awareness. Healthcare experts urge patients to take active, informed roles in managing their health: online workshops have been developed to offer chronic disease self-management programs, which have been proven to significantly improve health statuses. Moreover, healthcare practitioners and professionals must collectively work together and utilize the new landscape of digital medical technology to their patients’ benefits.
The increase in human lifespan—currently at an average of 80 years in developed countries—is often attributed to improved medical treatments and technologies, including innovations like the discovery of antibiotics and enhanced care for once-fatal occurrences like heart attacks. Yet advancements in medical technology also impact quality of life, particularly as people age. Many recent breakthroughs have improved seniors’ ability to remain healthy throughout the aging process, while simultaneously improving home care and challenges like overcrowded hospitals and remote populations.
The ways in which technology facilitates aging in place and patient care at home include wearable health devices, the concept of telehealth, and mobile apps. Wireless and wearable devices like Fitbits, smartwatches, and other technologies can provide useful data surrounding heart rate, calories, steps walked, sleep hygiene, and stress experienced. While these devices provide information to patients, they also can be configured to automatically deliver data to physicians—who can more accurately monitor patient health and continually screen for potential risk factors or new health issues. Moreover, in addition to devices that specifically monitor health, there are now wearable devices that can remind patients to take pills or perform other necessary medical tasks. Some predict that by 2018 over 81 million Americans will use some form of wearable technology.
The technological breakthroughs in communication and connectedness have also made it possible to provide healthcare services to remote places and populations. In 2016, approximately 74% of employers offered a ‘telehealth’ option as part of their medical service benefits. Through these services, a simple video chat with a clinician serves as a bridge for patient recommendations for treatment or further care. Because those who live in remote areas cannot easily access doctors’ offices—reports indicate that the physician-to-patient ratio in rural areas is 39 per 100,000, whereas in urban areas it is 53 per 100,000—telehealth technologies allow patients to easily access quality healthcare.
Finally, the ability to easily and rapidly connect customers with workers through mobile apps helps the healthcare industry by providing on-demand services to patients in need. These services include visiting patients’ homes, helping to set up smart devices, delivering medical products and equipment, and assisting with routine tasks. Not only does the need for on-demand professional services foster and create an entirely new industry, but it also dramatically improves home patient care.
Because the constant breakthroughs in technology are consistently increasing the human lifespan, the quality of our lives gains even more importance. Wearable medical devices, telehealth, and app-enabled, on-demand services can collectively help enhance the quality of healthcare in the home.
Recent data and statistics demonstrate that overall American life expectancy has dropped for the first time in a decade, spurring an urgent and pressing need for the advent and proliferation of medical technology—coupled with scientific progress and laws to encourage innovation.
While the research points to specific factors that have lowered rates of mortality, including increased obesity, long-term unemployment, and a resurgence of chronic diseases, the studies incontrovertibly suggest the critical need to provide enhanced ‘life-saving and life-prolonging’ therapies and treatments.
There is no specific way to address the divergence of issues regarding lowered life expectancy, but there are particular measures that must be undertaken. These include enacting evidence-based policies that spur innovation, and further eliminating any roadblocks to America’s inventors.
By spearheading research that targets the most grave and life-threatening challenges in our medical and healthcare system, new resources will grow and develop, ultimately allowing for patients to access breakthrough therapies. The need for medical-technology innovation is steadily increasing, while removing obstacles to improving patient outcomes and creating high-tech manufacturing jobs remains a challenge.
We must collectively and cooperatively tackle the persistent healthcare problems that our country faces, while boosting innovation in the technological sector in order to further address medical challenges.
U.S. regulators recently approved what is being termed the ‘world’s first digital medicine’: a pill with an inbuilt sensor that can be tracked inside the stomach, and communicates data surrounding whether—and when—patients have taken critical medication. The Food and Drug Administration are permitting the device to be used in an antipsychotic medication, with the overall goal of increased medication adherence, and the hope that the data can be used to help both doctors and patients better manage treatment.
The issue of medication non-compliance has been an ongoing challenge for pharmaceutical companies, healthcare systems, providers, and patients alike. This technology, which was developed over the past decade by Silicon Valley-based Proteus Digital Health, will be incorporated into the antipsychotic medication Abilify—which has been taken by approximately 7 million people in the United States since its inception 15 years ago.
Chief executive of Proteus Andrew Thompson asserts that the technology would allow people “to engage with their care team about their treatment plan in a new way,” supplemented by the ability to use a mobile phone to track and manage medication regimens. When patients swallow the tablet, which contains the sensor, a signal is sent to a patch worn on the body, which subsequently connects to an app on the patient’s phone: showing that he/she has taken the necessary dose. The prescribing physician will automatically receive the data; patients can also choose for family members and other providers to get the notifications. Moreover, the wearable patch has the capacity to track levels of physical activity—considered a key indicator of overall health and wellness—and allow patients to self-report mood and sleep quality.
This landmark regulatory clearance highlights the burgeoning high-tech evolution in the ways drugs are delivered, which can ultimately assist in curbing the estimated $300 billion in wasted medical spending caused by patient non-adherence. One of the bedrock pillars of the digital health revolution is making it easier for patients to comply with drug regimens, while simultaneously tracking their habits. Yet digital tracking is one of several outlined approaches to increase patient compliance; companies like Intarcia and Braeburn Pharmaceuticlas are pursuing other tactics, including the creation of implantable devices that contain up to one year’s worth of treatments for people with chronic medical needs.
A recent article in Harvard Business Review details the ways in which digital health care can help prevent chronic diseases like diabetes. One of the most expensive and rampant chronic diseases, treatment for diabetes exacts a staggering cost of $245 billion each year, with an estimated 30.3 million people affected.
A number of digital health interventions can be used to address chronic conditions like diabetes, with the ultimate goals of reducing costs, improving patients’ involvement in their own care, and mitigating the overwhelming burden of chronic diseases in the U.S. Most recently, Fitbit has demonstrated its interest in addressing diabetes management, forming partnerships with medical device giant Medtronic and DexCom.
Fitbit CEO and Chairman James Park states that these collaborations have involved the integration of data streams from connected glucose monitors into Fitbit’s data streams, and then displaying that data on Fitbit’s app. “For a lot of people managing their diabetes, access to that data has traditionally been very difficult so just being able to have that data be able to merge into other data streams and be available in real time is an advancement for people with diabetes.”
Bryan Boda, Head of Business Development at Fitbit Health Solutions, is a featured speaker at the upcoming MedTech Impact conference. Our lineup of speakers will collectively explore the latest technologies, products, and services that can track patient progress, assist with diagnoses, prevent and manage disease, and improve overall patient care.
New research indicates that digital health has the potential to save up to $46 billion in annual healthcare spending, according to a new report from IQVIA (Quintiles/IMS Health). Murray Aitken, Executive Director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, describes a new landscape of healthcare, in which a model that looks across five different patient population groups has seen a proven reduction in acute care utilization–typically hospitalization–when consumer mobile apps are used.
“Diabetes prevention, diabetes care, asthma, cardiac rehabilitation, and pulmonary rehabilitation: in each of those five areas we took the results from published research and modeled that to estimate that if these available apps today were used by all patients who could benefit from them, the US healthcare system could save $7 billion per year. So that’s just for five areas. If that level of savings was achievable across all disease areas, we’re looking at annual savings of something like $46 billion.”
While there is an incontrovertible increase in terms of innovation, and increased evidence surrounding the impact that digital health can have on outcomes in addition to cost, there is also an uptick in adoption of mobile health apps. Aitken and his team report that there are now more than 318,500 health-related consumer apps available for download: nearly twice the amount from two years ago. Around 200 new apps are added to the marketplace each day.
The majority of health apps are comprised of general wellness apps, yet recent advancements in chronic condition management apps have made them increasingly popular and relevant. In addition to the apps themselves, there is a growing amount of efficacy data available surrounding the apps, based on searches on ClinicalTrials.gov. As of February, there were 869 active trials utilizing digital health technology worldwide; 540 were in the United States.
Moreover, several of the barriers to adoption that were previously restrictive are changing; as there are more publications regarding privacy and security guidelines, app formularies are being officially established, and there is a continued shift to value-based care. “We still have a long way to go,” says Aitken. “We don’t want to overstate the extent to which mobile health apps have become mainstream, but relative to four years ago, there is a lot of progress that has been made.”