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The Need for Consumer Health and Employer Health to Collide

This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Towers Watson study looked at telehealth services that are offered by large employers. The main study result isn’t that surprising: more employers are offering telehealth services and more employers plan to offer telehealth services. This is part of a much larger trend where employers realize that easy access to health services is great for their employees and their business.

What was a bit surprising from the study was that despite offering telehealth services, many of the employees of these large companies aren’t actually using those services. Here’s how Megan Williams described this finding on the Insights blog:

The Towers Watson study in particular highlights one of the greatest challenges employers face in realizing the full benefit of telemedicine solutions — awareness. Many employees aren’t even aware of traditional options, so it’s highly likely that their options of digital health tools are being overlooked.

Why is it that consumers don’t realize the full breadth of telehealth options their employer provides?

The problem here is that most of us don’t look to our employer for healthcare. We look to them for insurance, but not health care. We don’t expect our employer to take an active interest in our health. In fact, often our employer would step away from suggesting “the best” doctors to us and just provide us the list of in-network doctors. It was up to us as patients to figure out who was “best.”

Given this dynamic, we’ve had to figure out how to navigate the healthcare system on our own. We were more likely to discover a new healthcare option through email, Facebook or Twitter than we were through our employer. To date, telehealth services have largely been consumer driven and so it’s no surprise that most patients discover telehealth services through other consumers and not their employer.

Will the day finally arrive that the consumer health options we seek overlap with the employer health options that my employer supports? I think we’re heading that direction. In the telemedicine space, for example, we’re starting to see some dominant industry players emerge. Large companies will only need to support a small set of telemedicine companies to cover their entire workforce and allow their employees to discover and use whichever telemedicine service they find on their own.

Patients’ interest in telehealth services will only continue to grow. Each of us has a smartphone in our pocket and we’re used to getting the answers to all our questions wherever we are and whatever we may be doing. The same is true for our health. Our health choices will be more influenced by our smartphone than our employer. That’s why employers need the consumer health and employer health worlds to collide.

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August 31, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Apple Is Making a Mistake Acquiring Gliimpse

The big news this week was that Apple has acquired PHR vendor Gliimpse. This was supposedly the first acquisition by Apple’s new Digital Health team. Plus, it’s the first big news since Tim Cook commented that Apple’s opportunity in healthcare “may even make the smartphone market look small.”

Many are touting this as a the start of the move by Apple into healthcare. No doubt it’s interesting that Apple would make a vertical acquisition like this, but it’s a mistake. Unfortunately, it’s a mistake that Apple is likely to do over and over again.

Apple certainly was and in many respects still is in a unique position to be able to innovate in healthcare thanks to its massive iPhone user population. They really could do some interesting things in healthcare since so many people have iPhones and so many healthcare companies want to say they’re working with Apple. The problem is that Apple doesn’t understand healthcare.

If you think this is a small thing, you’ve probably never tried to do a healthcare startup company. Healthcare is a unique market and requires a unique understanding to be successful. All the bravado in the world will only get you so far in the world of healthcare. Then, the harsh realities set in and you realize that the current against you is a lot stronger than you first realized.

Let’s take the example of the PHR Gliimpse (and generalizing to any PHR). This is a hard market with very little consumer demand. That’s been proven over and over again by hundreds of companies who have tried. The harsh reality is that most patients don’t care enough about their health to want to aggregate their health record. It’s worth noting that aggregating your health record is hard work. I even know one company that is paying doctors to send them health records and even then it’s hard to get doctors to act. Plus, there’s little value to healthy patients if they actually did aggregate their record. This is a tough, tough business.

Certainly, a case can be made for chronic patients that it’s worth the effort to aggregate this data into a PHR. Many have been doing this out of necessity. It was happening before cell phones became ubiquitous as people carried around massive folders or binders with their health records. While this value is understood, this makes for an extremely small market. When did Apple last do good in a small market? Is Apple going to really give up iPhone real estate when only a small portion of their users can actually get value from the PHR?

It’s great to have Apple interested in healthcare. However, I think the acquisition of a PHR company is a mistake and won’t yield them the rewards in healthcare that they seek. Of course, when you have a few billion to spend, what’s a few million on a PHR company? No doubt it’s a really small bet by Apple, but one that I don’t think will pay off for them. At least now they’ll have some people with health experience on the team and maybe they can innovate something new.

August 24, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Has the Smartphone Become So Usable that Anyone Can Use One?

We’ve long heard about how seniors didn’t have smartphones and so they wouldn’t have access to all these incredible mobile health apps and sensors that are tied to the smartphone. In some respects this is true and I’ve always argued that it didn’t really matter, because their caregivers (often their children) is going to be the one using it and they use smart phones. It’s an important discussion since our seniors make up a large chunk of healthcare spending.

This tweet from David Doherty had me stop and think about this subject again.

It’s true that in many ways the tablets and smartphones have gotten so easy to use that even older people are using them for all sorts of amazing things. Would you rather teach a senior to use an iPad or a desktop computer? As someone who once was hired by an elderly couple to teach them how to use their computer in college, I’d much rather have taught them how to use the iPad or smartphone. It would have been so much easier.

We have to remember that Seniors still have an insatiable desire to be connected to the ones they love. That’s why they care about these technologies and are willing to learn them. Adding on some health related applications is an easy next step.

I still think there’s an interesting market out there for customized tablets for seniors that make them even easier, but like David it’s interesting to see how tablets and smartphones have become so usable that seniors of all ages are using them. This trend will only increase and more seniors will be using this technology.

August 18, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The $5 Billion Eye and Gesture Tracking Sensor Market

Eye Tracking and Gesture Tracking Sensors

$5 Billion is a huge number for the eye and gesture tracking sensor market. It’s amazing how these markets slowly creep up until they become something huge. There are a number of really interesting startups that are working on eye and gesture tracking sensors.

This news is particularly interesting as Samsung just announced the Galaxy Note 7 will include iris scanning. It will help secure the device, but will also be available in other apps in the phone so that you have a true single sign on with your iris. We’ll see if they open it up for eye tracking applications as well.

As you look at the development curves of these technologies, we’re still in the very early stages. That’s what gets me most excited. The eye is indeed a window into our health in many ways. I can’t wait to see the new health innovations that come from it. At $5 billion, that market is really starting to mature.

August 3, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.