We went to CES 2018 to understand more about how the consumer technology space was poised to disrupt healthcare. As a digital healthcare company, we sit in many conversations with established healthcare organizations. We know that they are concerned about the consumerization of healthcare and how this could disrupt the very core of their business. Fears about the big-5 technology companies moving into healthcare are themes in many an executive healthcare planning retreat.
So, what did this bold, disruptive vision of consumer-driven, technology-driven healthcare look like? Hundreds of companies selling rip-off activity tracking watches, and connected blood pressure cuffs and scales. The big booths felt depressingly resigned to a future where consumers would somehow want to buy big clunky medical monitoring devices-rebranded-as-consumer-devices, and then maybe sign into a dusty old web portal to view the data. “Requires Internet Explorer 5 or higher” warned one brochure – a browser that was literally released in the 90s. A disruptive consumer story this was not. Nothing to worry about here, big healthcare.
There was some innovation to be seen, of course, including some truly interesting devices in the small 10×10 booths. Products like TytoCare’s tricorder for at-home vitals capture, and healthcare-relevant wearables like those from Sensoria. Also the number of do-it-at-home biological tests like Ellume’s at-home flu and strep tests and food allergen detectors like Nima are of particular interest to my household and our matrix of peanut, tree-nut, gluten, strawberry and peach allergies.
What’s missing is someone to pull these innovative ideas and devices together and offer a comprehensive vision for what consumer-driven healthcare could look like in a way that consumers would actually want to spend money on. Where’s the LG-OLED-tunnel of consumer health? Even if they didn’t have anything yet – at least sell the vision the way all those car vendors are selling the vision of self-driving cars.
We suspect that, as with self-driving cars (Tesla, Google) and smart phones (Apple), the companies with most complete vision in healthcare maybe just aren’t telling this story at CES. Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook: can’t wait to see your consumer healthcare booth when it’s ready, either at CES or some other show.