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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.

Mobile Use by Hospitals and Health Systems

I just finished spending a few days at the Healthcare Internet Conference. It was a fascinating event that mainly featured website, social, and marketing teams for hospitals and health systems. That’s a unique group of people that have a really challenging job.

One interesting discussion I heard at the conference was the right way to approach mobile. Someone put out the shocking number that 1/3 of major hospitals don’t have a website with a responsive design. In this increasingly mobile optimized internet, that’s amazing to think that 1/3 of hospitals are that far behind. In the healthcare B2B marketing world, I think that the need of a responsive design or at least a mobile optimized website is overrated, but in the B2C hospital world that’s crazy.

In another discussion I heard someone talk about how so many attendees at the conference had to jump on the latest trend. I met people at the conference that were in charge of their Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, blog, and then they managed their website in their free time as well. It was crazy.

The reality is that one person can’t manage all of these things effectively. However, when their boss heard that millenials were all on Snapchat, they had to hop on board and fall in line. It was sad to see how few of them had a real strategy when it came to which platforms they’d use and how they’d use them. Instead, so many of them were following the latest shiny object while all of these platforms were transgressed.

Turning back to mobile, one of the beauties of using these various social media platforms in your health system marketing efforts is that each of them have been optimized for mobile. In fact, some of them are mobile first platforms like Instagram and SnapChat (I guess it’s mobile only).

No doubt there’s a huge potential for health systems and hospitals to engage patients on mobile. However, I think it’s underutilized.

November 10, 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.

Factors Related to Digital Health Adoption

Is it any wonder that digital health adoption isn’t happening quicker? It’s complex. Check out this great graphic and paper that was shared by John Torous, MD:
provider-perceptions-of-mhealth

What I find most interesting is that it seems like the biggest negatives are the human environment and the organizational environment. I’d translate that to mean that patients and healthcare organizations are holding back these digital health options.

What will it take to change these environments? Will they change?

October 5, 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.

Growth of the Wearables Market Dominated by Healthcare

wearable-market-growth

This chart illustrates an incredible explosion in the wearables market and illustrates how it’s likely to continue to grow for years to come. The big takeaway for me is how healthcare totally dominates these graphs. The two biggest growth markets for wearable are “Healthcare” and “Sports/Activity Trackers.” Many would argue that Sports/Activity trackers should be included in healthcare. That’s amazing.

The only other wearable that gets reasonably close is the smart watches, but even those could be argued as healthcare devices as well. Sure, they do a lot more, but they all have some sort of health component to them as well.

I’m going to point to these graphs from now on when I talk about the impact of wearables on healthcare. Although, I guess I could also say that the wearables market is largely healthcare. I’m excited by this continued growth and I still think we’re just getting started on what will be possible. Watch out for wearables major impact on healthcare. I think it’s inevitable.

September 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.

American Well Patents Are Unenforceable

Good news today for the telemedicine industry as the federal courts ruled that American Well’s telemedicine patents are unenforceable in their case against Teladoc. Here’s an excerpt from Mobi Health News on the decision:

It’s looking more and more like the path to victory in the major turf wars of digital health will not be through patent litigation.

Earlier this week, a Massachusetts federal judge Indira Talwani ruled that American Well’s telehealth patents, which the company had sued Teladoc for allegedly infringing, were unenforceably broad. She cited the same Supreme Court precedent, Alice v. CLS Bank, that an ITC judge used to invalidate Jawbone’s patents last month in the tracker company’s battle with Fitbit.

I love the way Jonah Comstock from Mobi Health News described the decision. The path to victory won’t be based on patent litigation. Let’s hope that Jonah is right since patent litigation is an awful way to create a market. That’s true for telemedicine and the health sensor market. There’s a supposed PHR patent out there which needs to be invalidated the same way.

As you can see, I’m not a huge fan of software patents. It’s pretty hard to make the case for the innovation that you’re really trying to accomplish. Plus, far too many software patents are held by patent trolls. In this case, it’s a bit better since American Well has built a legitimate telemedicine business and isn’t just relying on their patent. That’s a good thing and it’s healthy to have Teladoc, American Well, MDLive and others battling it out in the market.

I’m glad to see the federal courts ruling on this. American Well is looking to appeal the decision, so it’s not over yet, but I’m hoping the result of their appeal is the same. We’ll all be better with that patent being unenforcable.

September 13, 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 Speed of Innovation in Mobile Networks – Enabling The Future of Healthcare

I’ve been attending the CTIA Super Mobility Conference in Las Vegas today and it’s been eye opening to say the least. The efforts they’re making to make wireless networks work for the IOT (internet of things) and even things like drones is incredible. Much of the buzz at the event has also been around the coming 5G networks.

Matt Grop EVP and CTO at Qualcomm offered this comparison of the progression from voice to 4G LTE to 5G:

Later, Rajeev Suir, President and CEO of Nokia, then suggested that we need 5G networks because the applications of the future will require it. This is an interesting statement to consider. Today during my Healthcare API discussion the need for faster connections came up and illustrated how healthcare could benefit from this additional speed. In fact, the innovations in healthcare are likely going to be facilitated or even demand the faster speeds to become a reality.

Think about neural networks and genomic medicine. That type of processing isn’t going to happen on the phone. The data for those won’t be stored on your phone, laptop, or desktop. It’s going to be stored and processed in the cloud and then sent back to your phone. The exchange of data that is going to need to happen is going to be huge and we’re going to need really fast networks to enable this future.

Think about all of the sensor data that is going to be reporting up to the cloud to be processed by these neural networks and pharmacogenomic processing engines. We’re not going to plug in to transfer this data. It’s going to use these ubiquitous wireless networks that currently connect our smart phones.

This all certainly leads to a fascinating future. I love the way technology can open the door to opportunities that would have never been thought possible previously. New high speed mobile networks like 5G are an example of that. The only question is if even 5G will be fast enough.

September 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 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.

For more content like this, follow Samsung on Insights, Twitter, LinkedIn , YouTube and SlideShare.

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.