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Why 2015 is the pivotal year for #digitalhealth

Why 2015 is the pivotal year for #digitalhealth | Healthcare and Technology news |

While we don’t truly know what the future holds, we all know that health is personal—and will need to be handled accordingly to optimize the progress that is possible with digital health.

The mainstream healthcare consumer in 2014 embraced the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and panicked (rightfully so) about the staggering wake-up call of the Ebola outbreak. While the politicians in US played the Obamacare ping pong game, and Brussels accepted its first applications for eHealth projects as part of Horizon 2020, there was also a major undercurrent in how digital health and health IT have penetrated our everyday lives.

In the US alone, digital health funding more than doubled from 2013, according to RockHealth, and even almost tripled according to StartupHealth. While the delta is not a rounding error, the key point is the exponential trajectory that showcases the fact that smart money believes this industry is ripe for significant disruption.

There are still many companies and investors that are sitting on the sidelines and watching the show from the balcony. As an example, there are many critics of wearable devices and even some hesitations on the value of big data. But, I want to remind everyone that Rome was not built in a day and the first generation or even second generation of devices, big data platforms, and decision support tools will improve care mainly driven by healthcare entrepreneurs, healthcare consumers and passionate scientists and clinicians – the “stormchasers”.

On February 2nd, I attended a local Singularity University lecture with a keynote from Gerd Leonhard, who is a thinker, futurist and a digital heretic. One of the statements he made really resonated with me: “Technology is exponential, humans are not”. The keynote was all about ethics in the age of exponential technology. But, leaving privacy and ethical issues aside, 2015 will be a pivotal year for digital health in an era of exponential technology:

1. Precision medicine

During the State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the precision medicine initiative.  

"I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier."

Precision, or personalized medicine, (I use the term interchangeably) is an approach to using medical and genetics data, body-generated data, biotechnology, and science, to first and foremost understand the root causes of the disease—but also come up with personalized and individualized treatments and therapies.

Due to forthcoming government funding, but more importantly smart money and brilliant entrepreneurs, we will certainly see more activity this year. After all “Health IS Personal”.

2. Genomics

As DNADigest describes it:

"The techniques for researching and characterizing genomics diseases are available to both researchers (next generation DNA sequencing) and the general public (in the form of personal testing), so we should soon be able to diagnose any genetic disease by sequencing a patient’s DNA."

Indeed, this is the future but the future is almost here: Illumina with $1,000 per full genome sequencing, Tute Genomics which is now allowing researchers and clinicians to interpret the entire human genome, and a big announcement for 23andMe regarding their entrance into the UK market.

As an industry, there are still a lot of hurdles, but we will see some significant moves this year in this space—including ways to actually analyze 150 zetabytes (1021) of data per full genome, begin integrating this data into evolving and ancient EMR platforms, and provide genetic counseling to offset the lack of knowledge by the masses.

3. Smart Data and Data Science

Well actually, data itself is not smart, people are! And while there is huge promise in big data analysis, collecting and hoarding zetabytes (yes this term again) of data does not bring any value.

People need to ask the right questions of the data. We are at an age where collecting data is easy with body-generated data, environmental data, and traditional medical data—but it is the data scientist combined with sharp business and clinical skills that will empower the healthcare system to make all this data actionable, with the healthcare consumer at the center.

"If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything" - Ronald Coase
4. Next Generation EMR is personal

Let’s face it—and this is not news to anybody—core medical data is already becoming a small percentage of the overall personal health record. Existing EMR platforms are over two decades old and some are struggling to keep up with archaic architectures, millions of lines of code, and minimal-to-no differentiation to their client base today.

The smart ones are looking to open up their APIs, integrate body-generated and genomics data, and even combine that with environmental data at a personalized level to be able to provide that precision medicine at point of care.

5. Design and Aesthetics

Our bodies are complex, and therefore the medical profession is complex. Once again, an unprecedented amount of content is generated daily—and for both consumers and clinicians alike, dealing with this information overload is becoming yet another full time job.

The aforementioned smart data discussion is only one piece of the puzzle. User experience is another.

At the core of our health is human behavior. Hence, incentivizing healthcare consumers (patients), making their treatment pathways clear, and presenting stupid data in a smart and actionable way are all key to improving our healthcare system.

Global health care transformation is still in its infancy. While we don’t truly know what the future holds, we all know that health is personal—and will need to be handled accordingly to optimize the progress that is possible with digital health.

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Docs critical to wearables success | Healthcare IT News

Docs critical to wearables success | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news |

As the "race to the wrist" intensifies and more and more smartwatches and fitness bands enter the market, one has to wonder who stands a better chance for success: the device that caters to the user or one that caters to the doctor?

In all likelihood, the percentage of the population that is really, truly interested in collecting biometric data – the so-called quantified-selfers – isn't going to increase by any great margin. You'll always have the super-healthy fitness fanatics, but they won't outnumber the average consumer, no matter how stylish that watch or bracelet looks or how cool it displays your heart rate and blood sugar. 

There are sure to be wearables on display at the upcoming mHealth Summit 2014 in December and the data they collect is going to be much more valuable to the doctor, the nurse, the public health worker or the health and wellness advocate (whatever they'll be called in the future). After all, they're the ones who are going to know what to do with the information, and how to use it in such a way that it holds value to the consumer.

That's the plan, at least.

The one enduring fallacy in consumer-centered mHealth right now is that a device's success in the market comes down to the whims of the wearer. That's only half the battle. If that device isn't collecting information that a healthcare provider wants or needs, and if it isn't providing an easy means of connecting with that provider and sending that information, all it's going to end up being is a fancy – and expensive – watch or bracelet.

Too many of these devices flooding the market aren't taking that provider connection seriously. They're expecting the user to find a way to bring his or her doctor, nurse or health coach into the loop, and expecting the healthcare provider to be more than happy to go that extra mile to get this information. This is the workflow intrusion that we've all been warned about.

Most healthcare providers would agree – they don't want to be inundated with all that extra information coming in from wearables. If it's of value to the healthcare of the user – their patient – then yes, but it had better be coming into their EHR or in some fashion that is easy to see, work with and act on. It would then be up to them to turn that data around and, in so doing, make it of value to the user.

Take a look at the wearable devices on display or being discussed at this year's mHealth Summit. Chances are each one is closely tied to a clinician-friendly platform, or ready to prove their ease and value to clinicians.

That's the market they want to please.

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4 Facts Making Clinical Trial Data Capture the Next Big Thing

4 Facts Making Clinical Trial Data Capture the Next Big Thing | Healthcare and Technology news |

The past few decades have been a witness to a path breaking evolution in the healthcare industry. This advancement was followed by off-shooting of several sub-branches & one such area which has gained an impetus in last few years is “Clinical Trials”. Various clinical research projects executed frequently makes it grow leaps and bounds.

Being One of the Most Expensive and Complex Areas; It Requires:

  • Ample amount of clinical research operations
  • Support of Pharmaceutical/Device/Biotechnology company or contract research organization (CRO)
  • Research sites such as hospital, academic medical center, and independent research institutes
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Product safety
  • Quality assurance and auditing
  • Medical writing
  • Bio-statistics

And effective clinical data management solutions like data capture to ensure that it is on the right track and is done effectively.

Electronic Data Capture for Clinical Trails is a widely used method to collect all the information related to the clinical trials. The data is gathered electronically & not on paper; thus there is no need to do the mundane paper work and then storing it properly. This has made it a highly popular solution to streamline data processing.

Benefits of Effective Clinical Data Management and Capturing:

Let’s review and discuss, in detail, some of the crucial advantages which electronic clinical data entry brings along and also some its long term business benefits.

Keeps the Data Secure:

A secure data is an extremely critical aspect in clinical trials. Capturing the data electronically ensures a secure access to the data – only assigned users can view, edit or delete the data files; thus preventing unnecessary leaks, file corruption and errors.

Such a robust system enables the data management team to quickly identify the users who need to update a form & also gives an insight into effective troubleshooting. Further, important tracking of data entry can be successfully achieved by using electronic audit trail.

Maintains Consistency:

Consistency is extremely crucial in managing the data of clinical trials. And it can be achieved only with a standardized data capturing technique like an EDC or electronic data capture system.

It provides a uniform method to collect data, minimizing user bias and other difficult issues which play a role in affecting results adversely. Moreover, the redundant information will be taken care of, and hence the database will not be loaded with unwanted data.

Increases the Productivity Manifold:

Time crunches have become phenomena that cannot be ignored. And it creates problems in managing the data. With the EDC methods for data collection, these challenges can be effectively handled.

In fact, with the data capture; the overall productivity; as it is often the data capture that consumes only half of the time.

Accessibility from Anywhere and Everywhere:

Another very key advantage of an EDC is its ability to distantly access your trial data without necessarily being present at the office or at the medical center. The electronically captured data can be stored “in the cloud” which can be reviewed.

Updates on the latest events for patient safety and overall study progress can be regularly made even through a remote location.

While conventional methods of data capture may still be a best option for few projects, electronic data capture is definitely going to make it big in the near future. It is quickly becoming the preferred choice due variety of reasons.

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