Follow the Money
The digital health revolution is gearing up. The population is being armed with wearables and shareables, and smart devices at flat rate prices.
Other sectors of our economy have already felt the full effect of the digital revolution. It has transformed how we interact with the marketplace as consumers making choices about everything from shopping to dining to travel. And that's a two-way street. Companies gather digital information to identify our unique preferences and habits. They learn to deliver products and services in the way that creates the best personal, individual consumer experience. In turn, this guides our behaviors and drives our consumer loyalty.
The health care industry, notoriously slow to change, is now playing catch-up. The money is pouring in. Other areas of tech investment stalled in early 2016. But digital health investing is stronger than ever. Digital health venture fund and worldwide investment tracker Rock Health reports almost 50% year-over-year growth in digital health investment for Q1 2016 compared with Q1 2015. The market hit close to a $1B high water mark for just last quarter.
Feel the Power
Digital health tools promise to empower people to take a leading role in their health care. People use these tools to access information they can understand and use. They bring healthcare messages directly into the homes and habits of our daily lives. They track biometric data points and provide the context to make those data points meaningful. Patients and providers come together in news ways, allowing the development of care plans based on personalized experiences and reactions.
Seeing the promise of digital health technologies is easy. What's harder is to even remember the days before digital devices permeated our culture and economy. Yet in the health arena, the investment in digital far outpaces actual adoption of new products. Why? Because the digital health revolution may be consumer-friendly, but consumers aren't the target for widening adoption. Digital health is a B2B2C industry. Providers and payers will determine how to integrate digital health tools – and the continuous data they generate – into our current ways of delivering healthcare.
The Commonwealth Fund notes that “Leading health care organizations have made inroads. Some are using cloud-based platforms to create a connective web among providers, while others are using smartphone technology and remote monitoring devices to detect changes in patients’ conditions and offer real-time feedback.”
Make the Connection
Healthstat is one such leading healthcare provider. Deployment in its worksite clinics of the Livongo for Diabetes program provides an example of both connecting providers with data through the cloud and using remote monitoring devices for real-time feedback.
Livongo provides people who have diabetes with an end-to-end solution. It includes:
- A connected glucose meter with data transfer and two-way messaging in real-time.
- Personalized analytics that provide context-aware insights.
- Coaching with Certified Diabetes Educators by phone, text, email, and mobile app 24/7/365.
The smart meter, unlimited blood testing supplies with automated reordering and the digital technology support are all included in the Livongo program for a flat monthly rate. For most Livongo users, including those at Healthstat clinics, the program is covered under their employer's health plan.
The data gathered by the Livongo smart meter can be made available to Healthstat clinicians at the point of care through Healthstat’s electronic medical records system, informing clinical interactions with real data. Patients also designate a care team to receive real-time alerts and notifications. And a diabetes coach is always on hand to help in any situation.
People trying their best to manage chronic illnesses like diabetes may spend 0.1% of their time in a clinical setting. They spend 99.9% of their time living their lives away from the watchful eye of a clinician. It’s becoming evident even to skeptics in the healthcare arena that connected cloud-based technology isn’t so much feared as an intrusion of privacy - it’s seen as security, like having someone who cares to watch over you. The coach in the cloud. Surely that's worth at least $1B.