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Apple Watch Changes the Health Wearables Game

Apple Watch Changes the Health Wearables Game | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

After months of speculation and hype, the Apple Watch has finally arrived. 


What are some first impressions? How does it compare with other watches, bands and wearables? How will it impact the digital health landscape? (By the way, if you are reading this review for information on how to deliver your one-way banner ads brand messages via Apple Watch, you're already missing the point.)

I have been an avid user of wearable fitness and health trackers for a few years. After losing several Nike FuelBands on the soccer field, I recently switched to the Microsoft Band. Although it's slightly bulky, I truly enjoy the simple interface for tracking my activities, instantly measuring my heart rate and even paying for my Starbucks coffee.

Then along comes the Apple Watch. Of course it's got a great design, but it's not going to be for everyone initially. The learning curve is steep, especially if you're like me and don't take advantage of the online or in-store training. It does have a limited battery life and seems to be missing some core health functions. It might not be ideal for people with poor vision, and it doesn't currently have independent GPS capability. I was particularly worried about whether I could wear it while playing soccer, but I simply placed a wristband over it. Voila! I didn't find a default sleep-measurement function, but I assume that there will be apps to do that. Maybe Apple would rather I charge my watch while I sleep.

It's been only a few days, but I can already say that the Apple Watch experience is a great improvement over my other fitness bands. In addition to tracking my heart rate and how much I'm moving or sitting, the Apple Watch lets me do everyday things like receive texts and email, take phone calls and use Apple Pay. But I'm most excited about how it and other wearables will help me modify my behavior for better health. There's something very motivating about receiving visual and sensory cues from a device attached to your body. For instance, the Apple Watch gives you a nudge every hour to get up and move for a minute. It's very subtle and it may be a minuscule benefit, but it can be a great tool to combat the 21st century “disease of sitting” that so many of us are facing. 

We have been talking about big data, value beyond the pill and behavioral economics for some time. 

These wearable devices provide a great opportunity to do more than simply be shiny objects for early adopters. Wearables aren't just for fitness—they can make a big impact on adherence, compliance and cessation of unhealthy behaviors. 


Two hospital systems are currently conducting digital medicine trials using the Apple Watch to help manage hypertension and to determine how nurses and physicians can benefit from incorporating the Apple Watch into a medical home program. There are already a number of industry-related apps available for Apple Watch, including those from Drchrono, Lark, Doximity, WebMD, HealthTap and others.

The uptake has been rapid: Consider the fact more Apple Watches were sold in one day than Android Wear devices in an entire year. As a digital marketer, don't expect every demographic to immediately adopt the Apple Watch or other wearables. But ignore the Apple Watch effect at your own risk. The impact of this new technology and interface will manifest over time, just like our mobile phones did. 

Remember when they said social media was only a fad?


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Social Media Do's and Don'ts for Medical Practices

Social Media Do's and Don'ts for Medical Practices | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Patients have come to expect unprecedented access to their physicians, especially through technology-based means; a large part of that is social media. However, many physicians are leery of wading into uncharted waters that have the potential to open them up to legal risk and possibly blemish their reputation. Yet refusing to embrace social media could ultimately harm your practice. Younger tech-savvy patients expect to see their physicians online. If they don't, they may choose to leave your practice for one that has a more robust online presence.

Pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, aka Seattle Mama Doc, started blogging for Seattle Children's Hospital five years ago in response to the media frenzy over the MMR vaccine. She realized that she had limited time in the exam room to educate her patients and their families. "To me it seemed that I was not going to be the pediatrician and advocate that I wanted to be if I continued to stay just in the exam room," says Swanson.

Through blogging, expanding her role on Facebook and Twitter (@SeattleMamaDoc), and utilizing other platforms like health advocacy and public speaking, Swanson now has 25,000 followers on Twitter. But she says that number is really not important. "You can have 24,000 followers or 24 followers, but if the 24 followers are the right followers — people who need your advice — then that's really good."

So take heart, you can begin with little steps. Here's what our experts say you should know about "getting social."

WHY SHOULD YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA?

One of the best reasons for using social media is that you can reach your patients where they are increasingly active — online. Smartphones and other mobile devices are ubiquitous, and, in one sense, just a more sophisticated vehicle for word-of-mouth marketing. Patients continue to ask each other for the name of a good pediatrician or family doctor, but now they are doing that online.

Customer engagement is an important part of any business. Founder of practice-management consulting firm Physicians Practice Expert, Audrey "Christie" McLaughlin says practices that establish a presence on social media are connecting with their patients and the local community in ways that will position them as the go-to experts in the field. She adds this goes a long way to building the first steps to patient engagement: cultivating the "like, know, and trust factors" with a physician. 

Pediatrician Natasha Burgert makes liberal use of social media tools in her group practice, Pediatric Associates, a 13-provider medical practice in Kansas City, Mo. In addition to seeing patients full time, she is also the "social media community manager" for her practice. She says patients most often find out about her practice's social media accounts through word of mouth. "Moms talk to moms and they let [each other] know information is available. During the clinic visit I will tell them 'If you want to find out more, just follow us on Facebook, or you need to follow [my] blog,'" says Burgert.

Burgert says her patients' parents have come to trust the information they get from the practice's Facebook page or her personal blog, KCKidsDoc.com. In fact, the impetus for starting a practice social-media channel was the H1N1 epidemic in 2009. Burgert says her practice was being inundated with phone calls from panicked parents. They created a practice Facebook page where Burgert posted daily updates; when patients called, they were directed to Facebook.

SOCIAL MEDIA DO'S

Once you decide to plunge into social media, make sure you develop a plan. As with any worthwhile endeavor, it helps to have a playbook. Here are several factors you should consider first:

• Identify your goals. The first step to creating an online presence should be to define your social media goals as a practice. Julie Song, patient safety risk manager for medical malpractice insurer The Doctor's Company, says it is a mistake to lightly enter into the social media arena. She cautions against creating a Facebook or Twitter account because all the other groups in your community are doing so. "Determine what would be the best medium to portray your practice to the intended audience," Song says.

• Find your ideal patient. When working with practices, McLaughlin asks them to identify their "ideal" patient; the group of people your practice wants to speak to in its marketing and social media efforts. That has a lot to do with the type of social media channel that you choose. Burgert suggests that physicians register with Google+ and also create a profile on LinkedIn and Doximity. McLaughlin says Instagram and Pinterest are also good options for some practices.

• Make it fun. Make the learning process fun to remove some of the perceived drudgery of yet more administrative work. Swanson suggests starting a personal Facebook page around a hobby or family activity. She says using the social media tool in a "low-risk environment" will make it easier to learn the ropes, before you apply your new skills to your medical practice.

• Set a time commitment. Another hurdle that practices worry about is the time commitment they will have to make to their social media efforts. Busy physicians barely have time to see patients, let alone contribute to social media platforms on a regular basis. Burgert recommends finding that "one voice" to be responsible for posting to all social media platforms (with backup, of course, in the case of emergencies).

• Partner with staff. An acceptable alternative to doing it yourself is to identify that one staffer who has an interest and the skill set to represent your practice online. Swanson says she knows from personal experience how hard it is to treat patients full time and manage a social media presence. She says a physician can partner with staff members in the practice to share relevant, thought-provoking, or educational material that they can then disseminate to patients online.

• Decide how often you'll post. Burgert says she likes to post to Facebook at least twice a day. Twitter is much more "live-time, interactive," she says, so she posts when she is on the site, throughout the day. McLaughlin recommends practices post seven times to 10 times a week to Facebook, until they get a better idea of what their followers want and like. She suggests using Facebook Insights (a free data analytics tool) to dig into the data. That way you'll know when your people are online.

SOCIAL MEDIA DON'TS

Many physicians are unreasonably afraid of establishing a social media presence online, says McLaughlin: "Really, I think a lot of the fear is hyped up." As long as physicians keep common-sense tenets in mind, like not posting protected health information (PHI), she says they'll be fine.

However, there are a few social media pitfalls that physicians should be on the lookout for. Here are some things to be mindful of:

• Guard against HIPAA violations. It is important to protect your practice and patients against HIPAA violations. The best way to do this, says Song, is to have a HIPAA policy in place and to train your staff members on its execution. She advises that only HIPAA-trained staff members should engage with the public through social media. And to be thorough, your "office policy should dictate that staff are not to comment about patients or office-related matters on their personal social media accounts," says Song.

• Don't blur professional and personal profiles. Illinois-based healthcare attorney Ericka L. Adler says physicians should never combine personal and professional social media accounts. They should be kept strictly separate. She also advises against "friending" patients on a physician's personal Facebook page. "Patients don't need to see pictures of you partying to all hours of the night, or whatever it is," Adler says.

• Never give specific medical advice online. "I do not doctor online. I'm not sharing health information. I'm not sharing things that contain PHI without families' permission," says Burgert, of her social media platforms. She says only two of her patients have ever asked her personal health questions online. If they do, it is best to direct patients to call the office if they wish to speak with a physician.

• Don't acknowledge a physician-patient relationship. Another pitfall that physicians need to be aware of is acknowledging online that a person is their patient. Adler says that "simply acknowledging that somebody is your particular patient can create a HIPAA issue." If you are responding to a compliment about your practice, for instance, be neutral says Adler — you can say something like, "Thank you for your kind words."

In some cases, having a discussion with someone online could establish a patient-physician relationship where there is none, says Song. "Many practices do not realize that social media can create confusion about when the patient-physician relationship was established," she says.


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How Healthcare Can Use Social Media Effectively And Compliantly

How Healthcare Can Use Social Media Effectively And Compliantly | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As a regulated industry, many healthcare organizations have avoided the use of social media, and have even tried to squelch its use by their employees. However, some healthcare providers are beginning to realize that there are opportunities to serve the public, patients and physicians, all while building awareness and enhancing their brand.

Who Is Using Social Media?
Consumers, especially the younger generation, use social media to research and to make health decisions. These decisions include the selection of their doctor, hospitals and even courses of treatment for both themselves and their family, including their parents. These consumers are well-versed in social media and expect their providers to be equally adept.

Patients, who are already active social media users, consider themselves part of a tribe and tend to trust others on social media more than other sources. It only makes sense that they will use social media to connect with each other to share their experiences with both rare and common disease and health issues.

Physicians can use social media to network professionally with colleagues and peers and to share medical knowledge within the medical community. Some doctors also believe that the authenticity of social media can drive better quality of care.

In short, social media is a platform where the public, patients and healthcare professionals can communicate about health issues and possibly improve health outcomes. However, as the healthcare industry slowly begins to embrace social media, the legal and risks of non-compliance with rules and regulations have never been higher.

Compliance With Rules and Regulations
There are multiple federal and state rules and regulations that govern communications within the healthcare industry. One of the main challenges facing healthcare organizations is the protection of the privacy of patient information. To this end, firms must also show that they are supervising the activities of their employees with access to patient information. Companies planning to use social media also need to ensure that their electronic records are complete, secure and tamper-proof for record retention and audit purposes. Non-compliance with healthcare regulations can not only damage the reputation of a firm, it can also impact the bottom-line.

Legal Issues
In addition to being compliant with various rules and regulations, healthcare providers should also consider legal issues such as patient privacy, litigation and physician licensing before using social media.

Federal and state privacy laws limit providers’ unfettered ability to interact with patients through social media because anything that can be used to identify a patient, including pictures, is protected. Should patient information be disclosed through social media without patient authorization, providers would be subject to fines and other penalties.

Healthcare providers are vulnerable to lawsuits from a wide variety of sources. Firms may be required to produce information requested by the opposing party, which may include social media. This means that firms need to be prepared to capture, archive and make all electronic communications available on demand. Expensive fines, loss of the lawsuits and negative publicity could result if this is managed poorly, or not at all.

Healthcare professionals need to be careful about providing medical advice to patients using social media. If a patient receiving the medical advice from a doctor through social media is located in a state in which the doctor is not licensed, the doctor giving the advice risks liability under state licensing laws.

Use Social Media Effectively And Compliantly
In spite of the risks, healthcare organizations can begin to use social media to support better health outcomes for the community. However, before they begin, they need to follow some steps to stay compliant and to help avert legal issues:

  1. Gain support from executive leadership and develop metrics for success.
  2. Create a Social Media Working Group with representatives from across the organization to address concerns and talk through solutions.
  3. Interpret existing rules and regulations protecting patient information and maintaining records as it pertains to social media.
  4. Establish an acceptable employee use policy for social media and clearly communicate the policy to all staff.
  5. Put technology in place that controls and monitors social media communications in real-time and flags any posts that contain certain key words or phrases for review before they can be posted.
  6. Capture records with a system that preserves the format of social media communications, including edits and deletions. If asked, you want to be able to swiftly search and retrieve past communications in context.
  7. Archive electronic records so that they are e-discoverable in the event of litigation or upon the request of regulators and in accordance with federal and state recordkeeping rules.
  8. Conduct education and training programs for staff who will be using social media, including real-life examples to illustrate how to use social media and how not to use it.
  9. Craft a content strategy and create a library of content that may be easily posted on social media by staff to reduce the chances of patient information being leaked.
  10. Develop processes for Legal and Compliance to approve content before it is posted on social media.
  11. Deploy an ongoing feedback loop to show executive leadership how social media programs are meeting metrics.


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Can connected health improve the lifestyle challenges patients face?

Can connected health improve the lifestyle challenges patients face? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

My dad was a wonderful guy who could fill the room with his personality.  He grew up during the Great Depression and was a World War II veteran.  I was thinking of him recently while considering how much health care delivery has changed in the last 100 years.

When asked about his health, my dad would always say, “I feel great.  I don’t have any aches or pains.”  This is telling. His generation equated pain with the need to seek care from an expert.  After all, he grew up before penicillin was discovered.  During that time, given what we knew about health and disease and what we could offer for treatment, it makes sense that people sought the care of a physician when they “weren’t feeling well.”


We’re now in an era where chronic illness management and prevention accounts for 70 percent of health care costs.  Of the forces responsible for illness — bad luck, bad genes and lifestyle — lifestyle is the predominant cause of chronic illness.

Our public health officials understand this important change, but consumers by and large still do not.  They still mostly seek care when there is some symptom or acute need. This is problematic because so much lifestyle-driven illness is silent for years (hypertension, prediabetes, obesity) and only generates symptoms when things are pretty far along.

The other interesting aspect of my father’s adage is the denial underneath it.  He was really saying, at some level, “If I don’t have any symptoms, I’d just as soon avoid the doctor so I won’t get any bad news.”  This psychology too is quite prevalent among consumers today, adding to the challenge of raising awareness of lifestyle-driven illness.  It is easy and human nature, to live in denial.

Another childhood memory I have is how kind my mom was whenever I was under the weather. She gave us extra love, as if that would help the illness improve more rapidly.  Given that most childhood illnesses are viral infections, I suspect her added affection didn’t change the course of any illness, but she made it tolerable to be sick.

We all want to be cared for.  This enables a child-like approach to the health care system.  It is common for patients to come to see us joking about non-compliance and begging, “Don’t yell at me.”  Likewise, they boast about their doctors, implying that they can put all of their worries aside:  “She’ll make sure I am OK.  I trust her.”

This triad of not thinking about health until symptoms arise, not wanting to hear bad news and abdicating responsibility for care to a health care provider accounts for a big part of why it is so difficult for physicians to get folks’ attention before they get sick.

Connected health can help us counteract these challenges.  The vast array of sensors now available and their attendant feedback loops make it hard to ignore when we’re not on track with our health.  Even if we don’t feel symptoms, we can be reminded several times per day of how we’re doing with respect to a given health parameter.  When these data are shared with a health care provider, it becomes more difficult for individuals to abdicate responsibility, something we’ve called the sentinel effect. When patients know their objective health data is being shared with a provider, they naturally up their game to appear to be compliant and interested in their health.  No one wants to look like a slacker in front of their doctor.

But we still have challenges when it comes to denial and individuals abdicating responsibility for their health.  This is magnified because we live in a libertarian society.  It is our right to ignore our health if we choose to; and because our politicians want to offer us coverage, we can still get our bills paid in the face of unhealthy lifestyle and behaviors.

What tools do we have to deal with this challenge?

1. Incentives/rewards.  We can offer individuals rewards for achieving health goals.  Our connected health sensors can be the source of objective data to automate decision-making around those goals.

2. Penalties.  As a colleague recently said to me, “There is a continuum.  You start with encouraging your workforce not to smoke and offering them rewards for not smoking.  Next, you give them notice that those who continue to smoke will pay a higher insurance premium.  Finally, you institute a policy to not hire smokers.”



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Social Networks In Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers To Change | EMR and HIPAA

Social Networks In Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers To Change | EMR and HIPAA | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As U.S. hospitals, professionals, and patients from coast to coast grapple with a daunting maize of healthcare challenges that’s growing more complex each day, it’s easy to forget that the solutions we need might just be sitting in someone else’s back yard.  And no matter who might own those great ideas, harvesting their value depends upon finding the best ways to share and make the most of them.

Both of these themes were at the heart of an exceptional two-day event I attended in Copenhagen recently, hosted by Healthcare DENMARK.  Called “The Ambassadors’ Summit,” each participant was invited to attend based upon his or her lifetime healthcare-industry contributions.  The Summit provided our group the opportunity to compare ideas and benchmark best practices with peers from around the world.  And while every national representative had something valuable to offer, some of the best thinking came directly from our hosts themselves.

Denmark has long stood out among nations for its health system, which is differentiated by its fundamental focus on the patient.  The Danish system functions by placing the patient in the center of its care-delivery circle.  Patients’ involvement in their own care is essential for the system to work.  And while few argue that patients should have a greater say in their own care, in Denmark they really do.

Because the Danes have made healthcare a true national – not political — priority, there’s a team mentality country-wide to support it – to improve it continuously over time.  It was this commitment that led Healthcare DENMARK to hold the Summit in the first place: they recognized that every country around the world has its own best practices to offer for consideration.  For example, Summit Ambassadors from Germany brought participants their expertise in international healthcare systems, managed care, integrated care, secure data transfer, and theoretic medicine, among others.  Colleagues from the United Kingdom shared insights from their roles in organizations like the World Health Care Congress and in subject areas such as healthcare analytics and health system financing, to name a few.

At the end of the Summit, we all agreed to return a year from now having advanced our own care systems by harnessing and developing the rich ideas we’d shared in just 48 hours.  Easily said, but what will prove the best means of connecting all the ideas in all those back yards?  The answer is social media used smartly – in a way that establishes closely defined social networks that engage communities interested in solving very specific problems.

As I left the Summit, I could already envision a new group of social communities that could invite the participation of the leaders who contributed so much to the Ambassadors Summit – effectively creating real-time conversations around the key issues that concerned each one of us.  For example, we could launch a new community with a “Danish voice” to advance our nation’s work to increase patient centricity.  Another smart social network could consider the construction of new hospitals and the consolidation of existing ones.  Other smart social healthcare communities could focus on medical homes, the roles of primary-care physicians, and the true connectivity of personal health records.

The possibilities are energizing because they are so clearly within our reach.  With the smart use of social platforms, global boundaries lose relevance, great meetings like the Ambassadors Summit never have to adjourn, and our power to drive a world of better care increases exponentially.



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Why Medical ID Fraud Is Rapidly Growing

Why Medical ID Fraud Is Rapidly Growing | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As the healthcare industry continues to digitize patient records, that data is a growing target for cybercriminals intent on committing medical identity theft and fraud, says Ann Patterson of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance.

In fact, the number of individuals affected by medical identity theft in the U.S. increased 22 percent in 2014 vs. the previous year - an increase of nearly half a million victims, according to The 2014 Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft. The study, conducted last November by the Ponemon Institute, was co-sponsored by the alliance.


Ponemon Institute estimates that medical identity theft incidents affected 2 million victims in 2014, nearly double the number of victims affected when the survey was first conducted five years ago.


"As the health industry creates more and more electronic health records and becomes fully digitized ... it just creates more cyber data for hackers to try to attack," Patterson says in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

"Medical records are highly lucrative on the black market," even more so than credit card data, she notes.

It's not just the data stored by healthcare providers and health plans that is being targeted, she warns. Consumers also need to safeguard their medical information, whether it's by shredding paper-based "explanation of benefits" documents they receive in the mail from insurers, or being more mindful of the information they share on social media.

"Cybercriminals are really good at aggregating and data mining all kinds of data that's available on online platforms, like social media, to create really rich, robust medical identity about you, Patterson says. "It's not just your date of birth, Social Security number, and health plan ID number ... that need to be protected. All other health information can be aggregated to create a really rich identity that can be exploited."

In its 2013 study, Ponemon found that about third of medical ID fraud victims were faced with various out-of-pocket expenses, such as legal fees. But in 2014, about 65 percent of medical ID fraud victims dug into their pockets, paying, on average, about $13,000 to clean up the mess left by medical ID fraudsters, Patterson says. "However, what we're finding is that oftentimes, even after spending all of that money, the problem doesn't get solved. Your medical record is still not correct." That's because false information can become part of an individual's medical record when someone fraudulently receives treatment as a result of identity theft.


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Smarter healthcare through business intelligence

Smarter healthcare through business intelligence | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In case you missed my posts on our Microsoft in Health Facebook page, I recently went on a road trip across Europe to talk with our healthcare industry clients about how they're using Microsoft business intelligence (BI) tools and analytics to improve health services for their customers.

Tools like Power BI for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure offer a variety of benefits for healthcare organizations and providers. Power BI for Office 365 provides a self-service business-intelligence infrastructure for all of their information, enabling them to visualize data, share discoveries, and collaborate in intuitive new ways. With Microsoft Azure, organizations can stream massive amounts of data, perform real-time analytics, and gain key insights to make faster and more reliable decisions about critical issues.

During my 16-day journey, I visited Norway, Sweden, Croatia, Belgium, France, and England. At each stop I was amazed to see the many ways healthcare organizations are using business intelligence and analytics enabled by Microsoft products to increase healthcare efficiency and improve patient care.

Helse Vest, for example, is a regional health authority that operates 50 healthcare facilities throughout Norway. To meet the requirements for a government-sponsored national patient safety program, Helse Vest needed to create analytical reports based on surgery trends and other medical data, and to do so much more quickly. Using Power BI for Office 365, Helse Vest employees can now visualize combined data from multiple facilities and create dynamic analytical reports in less than one day—a 93 percent improvement over the 14 days it previously took to build a report.

In Sweden, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Aerocrine, a company that makes medical devices used by physicians and clinics worldwide to monitor, diagnose, and treat asthma. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s population suffers from asthma—a potentially deadly disease that has no cure. Medications and inhalers offer relief that help asthma patients live healthy lives, but only if they routinely monitor their condition and follow their prescribed treatments.

Using a Microsoft Azure solution, Aerocrine can collect near-real-time telemetry data from all of its devices worldwide. With that data, the company can monitor the equipment remotely, keeping track of where devices are located, how they’re performing, and which ones need to be replaced before dangerous downtime occurs and leaves patients unmonitored for days at a time. The Aerocrine devices precisely measure airway inflammation, for example, but the machines are very sensitive and easily disrupted by environmental factors such as dry weather or humidity. With the analytics that Microsoft Azure provides, Aerocrine can check remotely to see whether a device has a humidity level that is too high or too low. Microsoft Azure also enables Aerocrine to see when devices are nearing the end of their allotted number of tests and then deploy new resources proactively.

These are just two examples of the innovative ways in which healthcare organizations worldwide are putting Microsoft BI tools and analytics to work to provide more efficient services and better patient care. In the end, it all adds up to smarter healthcare.


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Why 2014 was a groundbreaking year in digital health

Why 2014 was a groundbreaking year in digital health | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

2014 was the most exciting year in digital health since 2000, when the human genome was cloned. In February 2001, The Human Genome Project and Craig Venter’s Celera Genomics published the hallmark event. What followed was over a decade of glimmers of the potential for personalized medicine and new insights into disease, but also realistic mitigations in expectations, as is wont to happen in health care.


There is every indication that the next decade will be different — there will be an acceleration in innovation and development of devices to assess our healthy and ailing selves. What happened in 2014? A huge increase in funding and corporate investment in digital health technology (e.g., mobile, social media, genetics and big data), and massive growth in the accessible population, and the amount of open data:

  • Funding in digital health startups, tracked by an accelerator Rock Health since 2011, has grown steadily at double digit growth until this past year, when records were shattered with $4.1B in funding, more than double the 2013 amount.
  • Almost every major consumer technology company announced a large health initiative, notably Google, Apple, and Samsung.
  • Electronic health record and sensors were positioned to join or actually entered the “Internet of Things”. The partnership between Apple and Epic alone could reach 20 percent of patients entering a health care system in the U.S. An estimated 10M activity monitor units were sold in 2014 and phones became personal health monitors with the release of Apple’s HealthKit and Google’s Google Fit.
  • Lastly, the number of large data sets that opened in health care and the tools to analyze them came of age in 2014. For example, the FDA launched openFDA in June 2014, which made it easier to analyze data about adverse events, drug and medical device recalls, prescription and over the counter product labeling, and to access open source code for analyzing this data.

What does this mean for our health? Funding will help drive innovation, and greater connectivity between patients and the people and systems that deliver their care will help drive efficiencies. Both of these will enable developers to more easily amass huge data sets to advance personalized diagnosis and treatment, and support efforts to prevent disease.

Innovation. The last five years have been a “wild west” of digital health startups with greatly varying business rationales and user adoption. We are now beginning to see some sound inventions that make economic sense and will be used by patients, providers, and systems. Activity monitors will go stealth, such as the contact lens being developed by Google and Novartis that detects blood glucose levels. Quantification of conditions will advance so that we have a better understanding of the level and type of disease we are dealing with, such as Oculogica’s brain injury detection system for concussion and other brain afflictions. (Disclosure: The author is a consultant to Oculogica.)

Efficiencies. One of the most needed, but most difficult to realize, implications of health care systems partnering with technology companies, are changes that reduce time and costs for health care systems and patients — from the simple check in at a clinic or hospital, to the number and nature of tests ordered, to smarter follow-up. For example, the first Epic Apple integration at Ochsner Health System in Louisiana estimated a 40 percent decrease in readmissions based on a pilot study with 100 heart failure patients.

Personalization and outcomes. 2014 won’t be the end of guidelines and recommendations based on the general population, but we are at a turning point to eventually achieve ubiquitous genomic assessments of individuals and prediction for optimal treatment. The interim step will be larger data sets — ideally from clinical records and recorded from sensors — which will allow segmentation of patients by age, gender, stage of disease, and other factors. This enables providers to tailor care based on individuals or small segments, rather than large swaths of the population.

Prevention. Prevention is the holy grail in health care with significant impact on health and cost. Programs have been difficult to implement because adoption has been too onerous. Return on investment is difficult to quantify and is often not realized by one hospital or payer. Less obtrusive sensors and more connected systems lower or even remove barriers to adoption. Return on investment will be more quantifiable as individuals, rather than health systems, are followed and quantified.

What do we need in health care? Fewer people who get ill in the first place. When they do, they should receive better care, tailored to who they are and the specifics of their disease, delivered at a lower cost. The challenges notwithstanding, we moved a step closer to this fantastic vision for health care in 2014.


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Get that Hospital Trending - How to Make an Impact on Social Media -

Get that Hospital Trending - How to Make an Impact on Social Media - | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Is it going to be Twitter or Facebook? How about Pinterest or Instagram? Clearly, social media must continue to play a role in the current consumer-driven healthcare arena, but how do marketers manage this growing field? With over a billion active users on Facebook alone, according to The Guardian, effective leverage becomes a necessity.

The goal for most businesses today goes beyond just staying active in social media. Most want to get something trending, because it garners attention for the brand. For hospitals, that means making an impact both in the community and in the industry.

Deliver Incentives
Perhaps the analogy is a little overused, but people jump at carrots. What they don’t do is give the local hospital priority on their social media pages. Hospitals looking to add users can benefit from dangling the preverbal carrot. Create incentives that get patients liking the hospital’s pages such as a drawing for gift cards for everyone who shares a post. Marketers might start a hashtag campaign and enter everyone who posts using the hashtags.

Make It Easy
Patients can’t follow a page they don’t know exists, so make it easy to find. Put links to all your social media sites on blogs, web pages and in email signatures. Put address information on print material like brochures and business cards. It should be a permanent part of invoice and stationary letterheads, as well. Increase awareness through brick and mortar locations just as much as through digital channels. Adding “Follow Us on Facebook” to printed marketing materials, front desk signage, ER waiting rooms will increase your social media channels exposure. It’s not unheard of for people waiting to see a doctor to be on their phone and scrolling through their social media accounts. When they see your hospital is on Facebook,Twitter etc…chances are they will follow/like your social media pages. Make a commitment and follow through on your social strategies as part of your branding efforts.

Get Others Involved
Ask your staff and any healthcare professional associated with the hospital to follow the social media pages. If each staff member has at least 100 “friends,” then every post will be seen, and potentially liked, by thousands of people.

Stay Current
Don’t just post marketing tidbits about the hospital on social media sites. Make the page trend by creating discussions about things that matter to the readers. Post about healthcare news, provide tips on things like weight loss and stay current on community news. Scott & White Health Care provided social media updates when they were treating victims of the Ft. Hood shooting.

Make It Personal
Mayo Clinic is a stellar example of this in action. They have their own social media network that sponsors health promotion campaigns, including one specifically about heart health. Their doctors post regularly on their pages about trending health topics, too. Nebraska Medical Center provides QR codes, so patients can watch videos to get to know their physicians.

Provide Good Customer Service
Social media can offer assistance in this area, as well. Invite community members to provide feedback about the hospital via a Facebook page. This shows the followers that you care about what people think and, also, localizes the complaints. An unhappy consumer is going to go online and vent. This opens up a line of communication, so you can deal with the problem before it becomes a fire.

For hospitals, social media is a tool that can make or break the brand. Use it wisely to ignite your hospital marketing and get the hospital trending.



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