December 13-15, 2019

MedTech Impact 2019

Venetian/Palazzo Resort

Las Vegas, NV

(561) 893-8633

info@medtechimpact.com

Category: Wearables

Technology in Cardiometabolic Health – Challenges and Solutions

Technology in Cardiometabolic Health – Challenges and Solutions

 

This partner blog is from The Cardiometabolic Health Congress (CMHC). In collaboration with MedTech, CMHC will host the Cardiometabolic Tech Summit on October 10th to analyze topics including big data and its role in cardiometabolic health, developments in genetic testing, medical devices, patient usage, and more. Read More

Left-Pocket/Right-Pocket: The Systemic Challenge Facing Health Tech Disruption

Left-Pocket/Right-Pocket: The Systemic Challenge Facing Health Tech Disruption

 

By Alfred Poor, The Health Tech Futurist

 

In the past decade, health technology has raced ahead at an unprecedented pace. We are seeing new tools that help diagnose and treat a wide range of illness and chronic disease sooner and more effectively. Telemedicine brings healthcare services to those who need it but who have difficulty getting to a hospital or other clinical setting. Remote patient monitoring can detect problems before they become emergencies requiring an ambulance ride and an expensive hospital readmission.

 

New wearables make it possible to automatically maintain a diabetic patient’s blood glucose levels within a much tighter range, greatly reducing the chance of expensive and life-changing secondary complications such as blindness or the loss of a limb. Smart implants can monitor important biometrics such as glucose levels without the frequent need for invasive finger sticks to draw blood. Innovation is not limited to diabetes. Exoskeletons and smart prosthetics can reduce healthcare costs while delivering a better quality of life. The list of disruptive innovations is nearly endless. But almost all of them share a common challenge; I call it the “Left-Pocket/Right-Pocket Problem.” A 2009 program in Camden, New Jersey, serves as a poster child demonstration of this situation. According to one government report, about half of all Medicare expenditures are spent on just five percent of the eligible beneficiaries. In Camden, a consortium of city hospitals pooled their data and discovered that one percent of the patients visiting the hospitals were responsible for $46 million in treatment costs over a five-year period.

 

A pilot program put together a team that targeted just 35 of these “frequent flyer” patients who racked up an average $1.2 million in hospital charges per month. Social workers coordinated their healthcare and other aspects of their lives, such as getting into drug treatment programs. They provided housing for the homeless patients and saw that they ate balanced meals every day. The result? The average monthly hospital costs were cut in half to $531,000. The cost of the program for a year was about $300,000. That amounts to a 20:1 return on investment. Here’s the problem; I don’t know of many hospital emergency departments that have line items in their budgets that cover apartment rent and social workers for homeless patients. The expenses come out of the left pocket, but the savings go into the right pocket. (Or to be more accurate, the “savings” mean that less money is taken out of the right pocket.) This is the challenge for disruptive health tech. It’s not enough to solve a problem; there must be a sustainable business model that pays for the new technology so that its development and production are sustainable.

 

Diabetes costs more than $300 billion each year in the U.S. alone, including both healthcare costs and reduced productivity. Imagine if a closed-loop wearable system could cut those costs by just one third, by eliminating many of the instances of costly complications. $100 billion is enough to pay more than $3,000 per year to each person with diabetes in the U.S. That would be more then enough to pay for a closed-loop insulin pump system for each patient. Similar cases can be made for other chronic diseases and ways that wearable health tech devices can provide a significant return on investment: COPD, heart failure, various forms of vision impairment, and more.

 

The problem is that we don’t have a closed-loop financial system to support these innovations. The savings – or reduced costs – benefit one entity’s budget while the cost of such programs might have to come from some other source.

 

We are seeing some signs of hope, however. For example, the Veterans Administration is a much more self-contained entity than some other healthcare organizations. The VA has been able to undertake some landmark projects in telehealth, especially in the areas of mental health treatment. The result has been greatly improved outcomes at much lower costs.

 

Businesses are another example of where health tech disruption is gaining traction. Employee fitness incentive programs have been proven over and over to have a real and significant return on investment that can transfer directly to a company’s bottom line. In addition to controlling healthcare costs (either direct costs or insurance premiums), these programs have been shown to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, foster employee engagement, and improve employee retention. These gains can add millions of dollars to a business balance sheet every year.

 

While it’s important to build a better mousetrap, the world won’t beat a path to your door if you don’t have a way to pay for it. Health tech businesses must do more than just show that their products and services will save money; they must also show how the money can move through the system to cover the costs of the devices in the first place.

 

 

Author bio: Alfred Poor, the Health Tech Futurist, believes that innovative health tech will save healthcare in the U.S. and worldwide by lowering costs and improving outcomes. He is a full-time technology speaker and writer, and is the Editor of Health Tech Insider, an industry website and newsletter that covers wearable and mobile devices for health and medical applications.

 

 

 

This Week: Telehealth Innovation Bill Returns to Capitol Hill

CMS Launches New Physician Focused Claims Data Project

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced the launch of a new pilot program aimed at providing healthcare providers with direct access to patient claims data. Using application programming interfaces through the Medicare Blue Button program, the program is designed to allow practitioners with deeper insight into patients’ history, providing data access to previous diagnoses, medication lists, and more to provide a more full picture of a patient’s medical history. The pilot has launched on the program website, where clinicians may request access to the pilot. CMS will begin the program with a select group in August, and then expand to a growing number of providers. In a statement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma noted: “Technology, coupled with open data sharing, is how we will improve value, control costs and keep patients healthy while ensuring a solvent Medicare program for generations to come.

 

Kaiser Permanente Appoints First Chief Digital Officer

Kaiser Permanente has appointed Prat Vemana as its first Chief Digital Officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. Vemana will be responsible for the strategy, development, and execution of the company’s digital vision in partnership with the internal health plan, hospital, and medical group teams. As the former Chief of Product for Home Depot, the move marks the continued trend of medical organizations looking outside of healthcare for technology expertise. In a released statement, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson shared: “We’ve made tremendous investments in building our digital platforms and creating greater access for our members. Now we are taking it to the next level by focusing on digital experiences that change the way transactions and services are delivered.”

 

Researchers develop wearable device that could administer medication to prevent overdoes deaths

Researchers from Purdue University are developing a wearable sensor capable of detecting when a user’s heart rate decreases to trigger the administration of Narcan–an antidote used for opioid overdoses. Still in the proof-of-concept stage, the wearable sensor is made up of a battery, RF control, and induction device. In a video describing the developing technology, Hyowon Lee, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue, explained: “A lot of time patients who overdoes are found alone and are incapacitated to inject the life-saving drug themselves. We are trying to come up with a closed loop solution that can automatically deliver an antidote.” The opioid crisis remains as a major public health crisis within the U.S., with over 70,237 overdose deaths in 2017 alone.

 

Telehealth Innovation Bill Returns to Capitol Hill for Third Attempt

The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act  is headed back to congress after failed attempts in 2015 and 2017. The bill seeks to provide incentive for more healthcare providers to launch telehealth programs through reimbursements via the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMI). Additionally, the bill would have the CMI evaluate telehealth models for cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care “without increasing the costs of delivery.” In a press release, U.S. Representative John Curtis (R-UT) who introduced the bill with co-sponsor Joe Neguse (D-CO) stated: “Telehealth innovation is critical to expanding cost-effective healthcare access in a state like Utah, where care is often unavailable or difficult to access for rural communities. […] Technology provides great potential to enhance connectivity between healthcare professionals and their patients and I’m pleased to work with willing partners on both sides of the aisle to find healthcare solutions for rural communities across Utah and around the country.”

This Week: Telehealth Innovation Bill Returns to Capitol Hill

Wearable Device Measures Cortisol in Sweat

Researchers have developed a patch that indicates how much cortisol is being generated through a person’s sweat. The hormone cortisol, which influences emotional stress, blood pressure, metabolism, immune response, and memory formation, changes naturally throughout the day, and can rise because of increased stress.

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Wearable Device Measures Cortisol in Sweat