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Postcards from HIMSS M-Health 2015

HIMSS M-HealthIt’s been a busy couple of weeks at Wellpepper with both the AAKHS annual conference and HIMSS M-Health Summit at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor where Wellpepper was honored to have won the Venture+ Pitch along with CirrusMD. This was our second year attending the conference and we noticed that the hype for digital health is a bit lower and perhaps that represents market maturity. It could also be that organizations are in the thick of implementation and don’t have the success stories to tell yet. We believe in digital health and are rolling up our sleeves so will take this feeling that we are moving to incremental change as a positive sign.

Venture+: The Market Is Maturing

We participated in the Venture+ Pitch last year as well which was won by fellow our fellow Springboard Alumna Prima-Temp. Prima-Temp was the clear winner last year, already raising their Series B. However, there were a ton of startups with only an idea. This year the criteria was that startups have revenue before applying, and the competition was held in two parts, the first an invitation-only session where 11 startups pitched and panelists talked about the market opportunity in general, and then a final round with 4 excellent startups and really tough questions from the judges. We were a bit earlier on our journey than a couple of the other startups in the final pitch so were honored to be recognized along with CirrusMD.Clinic of the Past and Present

Interestingly the startup area on the tradeshow floor was almost entirely made up of a new class of startups. So, while the market for M-Health may be maturing somewhat, there are still new entrants attracted by the promise of disruption.

Incremental Progress and Show Me The Evidence

I was only able to attend Day 1 Keynotes, and I heard that the Day 2 keynotes were great, especially by Shahram Ebadollahi of IBM Watson Healthcare. On Day 1, with the exception of an excellent presentation from Dr. Wood from Mayo Center for Innovation (disclosure: as part of winning the Mayo ThinkBig challenge we have the opportunity to work with CFI for the next year), most of the presentations were quite low-key. The main problem was the voice of the patient was missing: the focus was on initiatives or technology. I timed it. 1.5 hours into the keynote and we heard the first end-user story, and it wasn’t really a patient, it was a blind runner who used FitBit.

Dr. Wood shook everyone out of complacency and called out for a faster adoption of healthcare innovation, pointing out how basic things like patient treatment rooms have not changed dramatically in the last 50 years. He asked the audience to consider going beyond patient-reported outcomes and consider the outcomes that matter to patients. What would the system look like if we paid for health rather than healthcare, and we paid based on people being able to reach their own self-defined goals? Digital health is an enabler of this new system, but really, it’s about taking a patient or people-centered approach to health and to care.

What Patients WantAgain, maybe it’s a sign of market maturity, but the conference this year seemed more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Themes from previous years were expanded on. For example, Judy Murphy of IBM talked about how consumer expectations expectations are fueling demand for m-health. People expect the same level of transparent and always available technology to manage their healthcare as they get from any other consumer experience.

HoneyBee and IPSOs announced the launch of the Global M-Health Survey which also pointed to ubiquity and consumer expectations and desire for M-Health. (The final survey results will be available in Q1.)

In a number of sessions Apple Research Kit was heralded as a major breakthrough for clinical trials. While the speed with which Research Kit was able to sign up study participants is certainly turning traditional research recruits on its head, the same limitations are still there: no HIPAA-compliant server infrastructure and selection-bias for those with more expensive devices. Interestingly, one of the greatest benefits for researchers seems to be the standardization of the informed consent process. (Note that Duke University will be open-sourcing the platform infrastructure they built in recognition that not all organizations have the skills and resources to build something like that.)

Interesting, how what was deemed such a major innovation at the time of release (less than a year ago), also seems a bit incremental. Again, we will take the glass-half full approach and say that we are reaching a market maturity where the gains are more incremental, although at next year’s conference we would really like to see more clinically-validated mobile health applications, and also more patient stories, preferably told by the patients themselves.

Posted in: Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare motivation, Healthcare Policy, Healthcare Research, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health

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My Life with Trackers

My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of people talking about the new gadgets they got for Christmas. Tracking has gone mainstream as many of those gadgets are fitness and activity tracker devices. I thought I’d share a bit about what I’ve learned as an avid tracker for some of these newbies.

I have been using apps and devices to track my activities for over 7 years. When Nike in-shoe sensors came on the market in 2006, I was an early adopter and since then have upgraded to various GPS watches and apps like RunKeeper on my phone. I love tracking my runs and hikes. It adds an extra sense of accomplishment seeing exactly how far you’ve gone, elevation climbed and how fast you’ve traveled. Seeing my progress overtime was especially motivating and helpful when training for upcoming races.  It led me to want to track more. I definitely felt myself getting caught up in the quantified self movement.

flex

Fitbit Flex

So when we decided to get Fitbit trackers at Wellpepper, I was all over it. I was very excited to start tracking activities outside of runs.  I chose the wristband format while Mike and Anne chose the Fitibt Zips that clip onto your pocket or waistband. I liked the idea wearing the Fitbit at all times tracking all activities (including sleep) and thought I would have a better chance of not losing it. We found this to be true right away as Mike lost his first two Fitbits.  (Protip: Clip your Fitbit with your Fitbit inside your pocket.) Anne wasn’t too keen on the look of the sporty black wristband so chose the smaller out of sight zip and also appreciated that the Zip didn’t need to be charged. (However, both Anne and Mike had over a week of no activity recorded when their batteries actually died.)

Fitbit Zip

Fitbit Zip

Initial findings were very fun and intriguing: an Ultimate Frisbee game is about 8,000 steps and a good round of golf about 18,000 steps with up to 20,000 steps if that happened to be a bad round of golf. The most lucrative activity turned out to be dancing, it’s surprising how many steps you can take while dancing at a wedding! (23k)  Step counts varied between the different Fitbit types. As my steps were tracked by the movement of my arm, I definitely got credit for additional steps including a few 1000 from petting an upset dog during a thunderstorm. This caused some debates over the accuracy and fairness of the Wellpepper Fitbit leaderboard, which is definitely a fun and motivating feature of the Fitbit app. 

Fitbit 3Definitely the most surprising findings were how many steps could add up with regular day to day activities.   I found that I generally took around 1000 steps just walking around the house and getting ready in the morning.  A walk to the store to grab a few groceries could garner up to 2000 steps. Turn that trip into a walk to the farmer’s market and you could easily generate 4k steps! It was surprising how a few small decisions could turn a relatively normal day into highly productive and active day.  I found this infographic: The Exercise Experiment: A Tale of Two Days does a great job of showing the difference small choices can make.

Even more surprising, or even shocking, was how many steps I didn’t take on an inactive day.  I work from home and it’s not uncommon for me to grab a cup of coffee in the morning, jump on my laptop and get to work. Some days, the time can slip by and before you know it, the day is gone.  I never used to worry about it because when I am not working, I am highly active. However, after I came across The Truth about Sitting, I decided I needed to be more aware of my overall activity. I think this has been the greatest impact of the Fitbit. I thought that I might dive deeper into analyzing my runs or hikes, but it has actually created this awareness to keep me moving all the time. It reminded me of something John Mattison (CIMO of Kaiser Permanente) said at FutureMed:

It’s not about wearing a million sensors, we don’t need digital nannies, it’s about becoming more mindful.

Posted in: Healthcare Technology, M-health

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