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Disappointing Digital Health Experience at CES

This was the 11th or 12th year I’ve attended CES. Living in Las Vegas, it’s easy for me to attend and enjoy the tech playground that is CES. It’s a fun experience for nerds like me to see all the amazing technology. Plus, it’s been fascinating watching the evolution of the event over the year.

When I first started attending CES over a decade ago, there was basically no digital health at the conference. This year, the digital health and fitness section of CES took up probably 1/3 to half of the Sands Convention Center. That’s a huge difference. It’s really like the digital health industry grew from nothing right before my eyes. Turns out the same is true for a bunch of other industries like 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, and Drones to name a few.

While I always get value connecting with many of the people that attend CES, I have to admit that the digital health experience at CES this year was an extremely disappointing experience for me. I did meet a few companies that I’ll write about in the future, but for the most part innovation really seemed to be lacking. I’d describe most of the growth as me too products and big flashy look at us booths.

The former is to be expected. The me too nature of technology always happens. However, the later is what was so disappointing. As I walked by hundreds of booths, they didn’t communicate any sort of unique and interesting innovation. There was a lot of flash and show, but the substance of what was new, interesting, innovative, game changing, etc was totally missing from the experience. Is that because they weren’t doing anything that unique and interesting? I’m afraid that’s the case for many of them.

Given the fact that CES has something like 1 million square feet of exhibit space, I’m sure there was a lot of innovation happening. However, on the digital health side it all felt very incremental to me. Maybe there were some really amazing innovations that were hiding. Or maybe I couldn’t hear about those innovations because the club music in the Under Armour booth was too loud.

I still enjoyed CES because of some of the people who I met with during the event. It’s just too bad the booths have headed towards sizzle and forgot about the steak.

January 11, 2017 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.

Genomics as the Next “Information Technology” Investment Category

Many of you know that I read various venture capital blogs as my hobby. My favorite is Fred Wilson’s blog. I’ve gleaned so much from his blog that’s helped me personally and professionally. When I know I have some blogs from Fred in my feed reader (which I usually do since he blogs every day), it’s like anticipating a delicious dessert since I know reading his blogs will be a fun experience (yes, I’m a nerd like that).

My Fred Wilson fandom aside, I was fascinated by Fred’s 2017 predictions including this one about genomics:

Tech investors will start to adopt genomics as an additional “information technology” investment category, blurring the distinction between life science and tech investors that has existed in the VC sector for the past thirty years. This will lead to a funding frenzy and many investments will go badly. But there will be big winners to be had in this sector and it will be an important category for VCs for the foreseeable future.

The timing for this is interesting since this week is CES. Last year at CES I moderated a panel on genomics. I led off the panel by saying, “Thanks for coming in from looking at all the iPhone cases to talk about something a little more substantial.” Needless to say, I’m quite bullish on what’s going to be possible with genomics. Although, I think Fred might be a little ahead of the curve on when tech and genomics will merge.

What’s interesting is that there should be an overlap in tech and genomics. How is creating some sort of healthcare analytics any different than doing the same with genomic data? Certainly, you could argue that genomic data is much more challenging and complex, but at the end of the day it’s still about culling through and understanding the data. For some reason though when we say genomics we think that it’s a unique class of investment. In most cases, it’s shouldn’t be all that different.

I do think Fred is spot on when he talks about many genomic investments going badly and many of them being big winners. In that way, it kind of feels more like pharma investment than it does technology. Maybe that’s why people feel like genomic medicine investments aren’t technology investments.

It’s going to be fun to see the genomic market play out. I’m also interested in the companies that are going to make our efforts available to a much broader group of people. I imagine that’s the type of investments that Fred Wilson and USV would like to make. They aren’t likely as interested in investing in the genomic findings, but the genomic tools that will empower anyone to make a genomic discovery. Or possibly the platform that will share and commercialize genomic findings. Those are both really interesting areas that I bet hits Fred’s investment themes well.

January 4, 2017 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.

Healthcare Is Going to Benefit from the Confluence of Consumer Technologies

Next week is the annual CES conference in Las Vegas. It’s a unique event that brings together 170,000 people across 4 of the largest conference venues in the world. It’s enormous and a little hard to process.

Having attended for the last ~11 years, it’s been amazing to see the pace of progress with so many technologies. Remember that it’s only been about 9 years since the iPhone was launched. While smartphones and tablets have gotten so much better over this time period a whole slew of other consumer technologies have as well.

Looking forward to CES, it’s amazing to see the development of things like: 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, Augmented reality, IoT (Internet of Things…or as I like to call it Smart Everything), voice recognition, AI, robotics, sensors, etc etc etc. It’s an exciting time to be in an industry where so many things are developing so quickly.

Maybe I’m skewed because I’m a blogger in healthcare, but it’s really amazing how healthcare sits at the confluence of so many of these technologies. The overlap that’s going to happen between augmented reality, 3D printing, AI, sensors and new things we barely understand is going to be extraordinary.

I recently saw a 3D printing conference for healthcare. While 3D printing is very exciting for healthcare, it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if we didn’t have all of the other innovations in cameras, storage, data sharing, virtual reality, etc. We needed evolutions and innovations in all of these spaces for the other technologies to really work well.

I’ve often said that the most interesting things in healthcare happen at the intersections. I think that’s particularly true in the digital health space. As I head to CES, I’ll be watching for this type of crossover of technologies. I think this year we’re going to see a lot of companies utilizing multiple technologies in ways we’d never seen previously.

December 28, 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.

Zero Marginal Cost and Healthcare

I stumbled upon an old post from the always insightful and interesting 3G Doctor blog about the concept of ‘Zero Marginal Cost.’ Here’s a great quote they use in the post from Albert Wenger, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures:

“Why is everyone going online? It turns out there’s a simple answer to that: Kittens. Everyone wants to see Kittens. Well there’s actually something more to this, there’s something serious to this because when I downloaded this image from Flickr there was no noticeable cost to anybody. The marginal cost of creating a copy in the digital world is zero and that is driving all the changes that we’re seeing… …and we’re just at the beginning of this change”

I love the concept of zero (or at least near zero) marginal costs. It’s the premise of so many of the amazing things we experience on the internet. What’s troubling is that healthcare hasn’t embraced the idea of zero marginal costs. At least not in the way that it could.

In healthcare, we still like to talk about how much it’s going to cost a patient to get access to their medical records. There are literally state laws which say how much you can charge. Just writing this after writing about the marginal costs of delivering something electronically makes the concept sound silly. Imagine if your bank charged you per sheet to print out your statements each month. That’s basically what we’re asked to do in healthcare.

We’ve started to see some change in this, but there’s still resistance. There’s a real, palpable feel by many in healthcare that giving free access to all of your patient info could lead to really ugly problems. While there might be a few outlier cases people could identify, I’d argue the opposite. Think about the really ugly problems that occur in healthcare because patients don’t have their health information.

It’s time for healthcare to put down their excuses and embrace the benefits that zero marginal costs of sharing health information can provide. I’m not saying we should do it recklessly. We should be thoughtful in how we do it, but we should do it. It’s no longer a technical or security challenge, it’s just a cultural challenge.

December 21, 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.

Scanadu to Shut Down Scout Medical Device Per FDA Regulation

The famous Qualcomm Tricorder prize winner and IndieGogo crowdfunding success, Scanadu, has just hit some major bumps in the road. In fact, you might say they lost their engine completely. After winning the X Prize foundation’s tricorder competition, they went on to raise more than $1.6 million on IndieGogo from 8509 backers.

After shipping the product, Techcrunch just broke the news that Scanadu was now planning to disable the Scout’s functionality. Yes, that’s right. People paid $149-269 for the Scanadu Scout and now Scanadu is going to brick all of the devices. Here’s their official comment to Techcrunch:

“From the beginning of the campaign, this was an investigational device that was part of a study which has now reached its endpoint with data collection for the study ending in November 2016. FDA regulations require that all investigational studies be brought to closure and their respective devices be deactivated. As a result, we will deactivate the Scanadu Scout® devices by May 15, 2017.

Interestingly, the Scanadu website, Twitter, Facebook, etc are all quiet. In fact, most of them have been quiet since April. What hasn’t been quiet is customers anger towards Scanadu. That’s true on social media, but also in the IndieGogo comment section where Scanadu had raised $1.6 million.

You can imagine people’s anger. Their expensive device will now be useless. As one commenter pointed out, someone bought 100 of them. That person will now essentially have 100 expensive bricks. In the comments, people are calling for a class action lawsuit, refunds from IndieGogo and outrage at the company doing this to them. The most salient point is that it’s hard to imagine anyone ever buying a product from Scanadu again after something like this occurs. One commenter suggested the following:

The consent doc also says: “If you have any questions about your rights, call the Scripps Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at (858) 652-5500. ” [Note: Scripps is performing the study based on the Scanadu data.]

Some people in the comments are even commenting that there’s no such FDA regulation. I’m not an expert on FDA regulation, but my gut tells me there’s more to this story than we know today. I could easily see how there could be an FDA regulation that required a company to shut down devices that made claims they couldn’t achieve and therefore put people’s health in danger. I’m not sure if this is what’s happening with Scanadu, but when there’s smoke there’s usually fire.

I think we all loved the romanticized idea of a medical tricorder. Haven’t we all wanted one since we first saw it portrayed on Star Trek? Scanadu was trying to make it a reality, but it seems their efforts have fallen flat. This is a good warning to everyone else out there. FDA compliance is no joke. Even winning an X Prize, a successful crowd funding campaign, and raising $35 million in funding doesn’t guarantee success.

Innovation in healthcare is hard!

December 14, 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 Expanding World of Health Sensors

It’s been fascinating to watch the number of health sensors blow up over the years. The sad part of the last 3-5 years has been that a huge majority of the sensors that were hitting the market were essentially me too products. How many fitness trackers, blood pressure cuffs, smart scales, heart rate monitors, etc do we need. No doubt each of these products has produced some successful businesses, but have they really moved the needle on healthcare? My answer is no and that’s because these health sensors aren’t very clinically relevant.

The good thing is that I’ve started to see a wider variety of sensors that measure everything imaginable on your body. None of these have been breakout hits yet, but that’s largely because they’re trying to really measure something that’s clinically relevant versus creating a consumer toy.

There are a lot of ways to look at the health sensor market, but one way is to look at which part of the body they’re using to measure some health indicator. Here’s a list of some of the sensors I’ve seen over the past couple years (starting with the obvious ones):

  • Skin
  • Motion
  • Sweat
  • Blood
  • Eye
  • Visual
  • Brainwaves
  • Stool
  • Blood Flow
  • Spit

As you can see, there are companies working on measuring every output we produce in order to try and understand our health.  Some of these we’ve been doing forever like blood tests.  Labs are such an important part of healthcare.  However, what’s different about the latest generation of health sensors is that most of these health sensors are going direct to consumers as opposed to selling to the healthcare providers.

Think about that shift. That’s a massive change. Plus, the ironic part is that many healthcare providers are adopting and using consumer sensors in their healthcare organizations. I’m also interested in how this shift in information is going to change the balance of power in healthcare. Information is power.

Are there other sensors out there that you see coming to market? Which ones do you think will be most clinically relevant?

December 8, 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 Next Evolution in Patient Communication – Chatbots

I’ve been fascinated by chatbots since they started to become popular a year or so ago. I checked out the Wikipedia page for a definition of chatbots and they offered this definition:

a chat robot is a type of conversational agent, a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods.

When looking at that page, I was reminded that chatbots existed back in my old IRC (internet relay chat…any one else remember spending time on IRC?) days as well. The problem with chatbots in the IRC days is that they were extremely basic. I guess that’s why I didn’t naturally remember that IRC had chatbots. The chatbots and AI behind the chatbots have progressed so much that they barely resemble each other.

We’re even starting to see chatbots evolve so that they can be used in healthcare. One example of this is a company called SimplifiMed. What I liked about SimplifiMed is that they have an open platform that can be used to implement a chatbot based on any protocol a hospital, health system, payer, etc would like to deploy. They’re making chatbots accessible to anyone that wants to implement one.

While I think chatbots are really interesting and can have an impact for good on healthcare, it’s going to take some work to develop the right protocols to make them effective. A big part of that is going to know how to train the chatbot to communicate with non-adherent patients in an effective way. That’s where the secret sauce really lies. Certainly, a chatbot takes communication and automation to a new level. However, training it to work effectively is going to be where the real value will be created.

I’m excited to see the next evolution of communication and automation come to healthcare. Done correctly, chatbots can save healthcare a lot of money and remove menial tasks that don’t need to be done by a human. They can also escalate tasks to the right person where human intervention is necessary.

November 23, 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.

What If We Looked at the Smartphone Camera as a “Sensor” Instead of a “Digital Camera”

Benedict Evans is one of the smartest people I’ve read on treads happening in the technology industry. It’s been fascinating to read his perspectives on the shift to mobile and how mobile adoption has changed society. Back in August he blew my mind again as we think of the evolution of mobile and redefining how we use the camera on our smartphones and what it means for mobile applications. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

This change in assumptions applies to the sensor itself as much as to the image: rather than thinking of a ‘digital camera, I’d suggest that one should think about the image sensor as an input method, just like the multi-touch screen. That points not just to new types of content but new interaction models. You started with a touch screen and you can use that for an on-screen keyboard and for interaction models that replicate a mouse model, tapping instead of clicking. But next, you can make the keyboard smarter, or have GIFs instead of letters, and you can swipe and pinch. You go beyond virtualising the input models of an older set of hardware on the new sensor, and move to new input models. The same is true of the image sensor. We started with a camera that takes photos, and built, say, filters or a simple social network onto that, and that can be powerful. We can even take video too. But what if you use the screen itself as the camera – not a viewfinder, but the camera itself? The input can be anything that the sensors can capture, and can be processed in any way that you can write the software.

Everyone has long argued that the smartphone is great as a consumption engine, but it’s not great as a content creation engine. That’s largely true today, but will that change in the future? I think it’s an extremely powerful idea to think of the camera on your smartphone as a sensor that captures meaningful actions beyond just capturing a picture. That’s a powerful concept that is going to change the way mobile apps work and how they’re designed.

The same is true when you think about the camera app software on your smartphone. We see that with Snapchat and other apps that have taken what’s essentially a camera app and overlayed filters to add new functionality to an otherwise simple item.

Now think about this from a healthcare perspective. Could the camera on your smartphone be a window into your health? Could what you capture with the camera show a window into your daily activities? That brings health tracking to a whole new level.

I first saw an example of this at a Connected Health Symposium many years ago when I saw someone researching how your cell phone camera could measure your heart rate. I’m not sure all the technical details, but I guess the way you look subtley changes and you can measure that change and thus measure your heart rate. Pretty amazing stuff, but that definitely sounds like using your camera as a sensor as opposed to a digital camera.

Go and read Benedict Evan’s full article to really understand this change. I think it could have incredible implications for digital health applications.

November 16, 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.

Patient Forms for the Impatient – How mobile patient forms can increase patient satisfaction

The following is a guest blog post by Bogdan Lupu.

I work in a technology company. Most of my friends work in companies either handling technology or providing technology related services. In our day to day work it’s all about optimizing, streamlining and getting things to improve even if only by a little. It’s become a habit whenever dealing with something to ask the question, well how could this be better?

Now, having said all that, whenever I must go to the doctor or have a routine check I expect it to take up a whole day. That’s not true most of the times, but everything from the thought of making the appointment, being scheduled weeks after and then filling out the endless stream of forms make me feel impatient even before picking up the phone.

Imagine my surprise when I had to do a routine eye check-up and was told to book an appointment online on the clinic’s website.
patient-registration-form
The first thing I noticed was that the mobile appointment form was perfectly optimized for my phone. I could press everything without having to zoom in and out and it felt somehow natural.

The good surprises came rolling after. I got the scheduling confirmation directly via email and a link to save it in my calendar. After arriving and being greeted by the polite receptionist by name, I was asked to just go in and see the doctor. Having already filled out all the required information  when scheduling the appointment, there was no need for any other paper forms.

After my visit, I got an email and I was kindly asked to fill out their patient satisfaction survey.

It seems that customer experience is now a priority within the healthcare sector with patient engagement and secure data collection as their top priorities.

I’m looking forward to my next annual check-up.

October 27, 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.

A Patient Engagement Company Could Be Anything

I’ve been spending the past couple days at the Connected Health Symposium in Boston. After talking to hundreds of people I was realizing my problem with companies saying that they are a patient engagement company. If you tell me you’re a patient engagement company, then I have no idea what you do.

The same isn’t true for an EHR company. If you say that you’re an EHR company, then I know that you’re helping doctors chart electronically. Sure, some people have used that term incorrectly or have executed poorly, but we all basically know what a company is doing if they’re an EHR company. Same is true for revenue cycle management companies and practice management software vendors.

The same can’t be said for patient engagement companies. If you say that you do patient engagement, that could literally be anything. In fact, is every company a patient engagement company?

I think we should banish the term patient engagement when describing a company. Instead, companies should tell us how they’re engaging the patient. Then, we can have an idea of what you’re doing and be able to understand how you fit into the healthcare ecosystem.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t engage patients. Absolutely not. We 100% should be doing patient engagement. However, there are 1000s of ways that we can engage patients and many of them don’t involve technology at all. Those can all be great things, but it’s not a category of software companies.

October 21, 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.