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You Might Be a Digital Health Expert If…

You might be a digital health expert if…

You tweet a lot using the #DigitalHealth hashtag.

At least that’s what I got from a recent list I saw posted about the most influential people in Digital Health. That’s right, they translated number of tweets with a certain hashtag to “Influential People.”

Listen, I get why people put these lists together. If you put a bunch of influential people on your list, then you’ll get those influential people to share some of their influence with you because who doesn’t like to share that they’ve been listed as influential. I know this because people have been kind enough to put Healthcare Scene’s blogs on a lot of lists over the years.

That said, a lot of tweets does not an influencer make.

I recently saw my local political commentator talk about how many of the Tweeters for a political candidate that were tweeting him had a similar Twitter stats profile. They’d be something like 40,000 tweets and 300 followers.

It’s worth pointing out that number of followers shouldn’t be used as a full measure of influence either. However, if you’ve tweeted that much noise and only have 300 followers, you’re not likely that influential. The amount of noise you make doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is listening even if people are reading more hashtags lately and following people less.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a great way to know who’s really reading and listening to someone who’s engaging on social media. Especially when you don’t own the account yourself. So, let’s be careful in the words we use to describe influence. Instead, these lists are a lot of fun and a great way to find new, interesting people. That’s a powerful and worthwhile thing.

July 6, 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 Promise of Wearables for Healthcare

In a recent interview I did with Dr. Rhew, Chief Medical Officer of Samsung, and Dr. Nick, CMO of Dell, we got this great insight from Dr. Rhew on the promise of wearables for healthcare (only takes 45 seconds):

It’s worth listening to the full discussion with Dr. Rhew and Dr. Nick so you have context, but I love how he framed the promise of wearables for healthcare. I especially like how he talks about these devices just being integrated into our lifestyle.

The challenge with this promise is that many of the current wearables have fallen short. They don’t integrate well with our lifestyle. They’re a pain to connect to get the data (although, that’s gotten better). The data they collect has questionable accuracy. The data they collect isn’t clinically relevant. I could keep going, but you get the idea.

While many of the wearables have fallen short, that’s a necessary part of the learning process. We’re going through a wearable revolution and that requires a product evolution. Many of the things we see as failings today will be considered laughable in the future.

Like Dr. Rhew, I think the promise of wearables is extremely exciting for healthcare. The integration of wearables into your lifestyle is happening. It’s not going to happen overnight, but each of these products will lay the groundwork for wearables that will become invisible to our day to day life.

June 29, 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.

Perfect Description of Current Digital Health App Market

In this interview with Dr. John Torous, he perfectly describes the current digital health app market:

There are some useful apps currently available today that many patients would benefit from — and there are also some frightening ones that no one should ever use. Jennifer Nicholas of the Black Dog Institute in Australia published a paper looking at the quality of apps for bipolar disorder on the Apple and Android app stores. The results were not encouraging and to use the words from her paper, “the content of currently available apps for bipolar disorder is not in line with practice guidelines or established self-management principles.” She even found one app telling patients to drink hard alcohol if they had trouble falling asleep. Researchers have revealed similar findings for apps offering to help with substance abuse, suicide, anxiety, and depression.

We know there are many great apps out there, but there are a lot more unhelpful and even dangerous ones out there too.

This is exactly the problem today. Although, it’s worth noting Dr. Torous’ cautious words “would benefit from”. He didn’t say that digital health apps would cure disease, prevent mental health issues, solve health problems, or some other stronger statement. However, digital health apps could provide some benefit.

Although, he also points out that many of them shouldn’t be used at all. In fact, many of them could be doing a lot of damage. That’s a scary thought.

Most of the digital health apps I’ve seen are quite benign. They may not produce the desired results, but they also aren’t going to really harm a patient either. That’s the good thing, but it’s going to change. In order to differentiate themselves, these apps are going to have to do more. Along with that curve, we’re going to have plenty of digital health apps selling the digital health “snake oil” which has become so popular since the AMA talked about EHRs as digital “snake oil.”

Considering how most providers are approaching digital health, I’m not afraid that they’ll get hit with digital snake oil health apps. However, most of these apps are going straight to the consumer. That means that doctors have to know about the apps that do work, but also the apps their patients are using on their own. That’s going to make for an extremely hard situation for doctors. My guess is most will just set aside any apps they don’t know about as risky, but that has its own danger.

Regardless of whether a clinic wants to deal with digital health apps or not, they’re coming and your patients will be using them. It behooves every clinic to think about their digital health strategy.

June 22, 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.

Technology is Just a Tool, It’s Not The Solution to Healthcare’s Problems

Today I’m dipping my toes in an area that’s not familiar with me. I’m attending the AHIP Institute conference in Las Vegas. For those not familiar with AHIP, it’s a coming together of the health plans across the US. This group is particularly interesting when you remember that most healthcare providers are also health plans today. In fact, we’re quickly seeing the merging of healthcare providers and payers.

The conference has just begun, but it’s already clear to me that there’s a general tone that technology is going to play a major role in the future of healthcare delivery. What also seems to clear to me is that most of these people aren’t sure what role technology will play.

The problem I think many of these people have is that they think that technology can be implemented to solve all their problems. That’s not how it works. Technology in and of itself is not a solution to most problems. Technology is just a tool. How you use that tool can be effective or not. Plus, you have to make sure that you have the right tool. If you need to drive a nail into a piece of wood, a screwdriver doesn’t do you much good.

I’d also add that even if you have the right tool, you still need the right plan. If you’re trying to build a table and you have the blueprints for a chair, then you’re not going to get the result you want. My gut tells me that most of these people are overwhelmed by the operational requirements of their day to day job and so they don’t have any time to actually explore what solutions are out there for their problems.

I agree with those at AHIP that technology shows a lot of promise. However, we need to spend a lot more time making sure we’re using the right solution at the right time in the right place. That’s a challenge we haven’t quite solved.

June 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.

The Real Challenge of Digital Health Solutions: Human Idosyncracies

David Shaywitz, in his Forbes article, pulls out this great nugget of wisdom from Marc Andreessen about the challenge of applying AI to the VC business and compares it to AI replacing your doctor. I agree with David that it provides a tremendous insight into AI replacing the doctor.

Andreessen’s response (at around the 40-minute mark) speaks for itself–but also, I’d argue, for most in healthcare (emphasis added):

The computer scientist in me and engineer in me would like to believe this is possible, and I’d like to be able to figure this out–frankly, I’d like us to figure it out.

The thing I keep running up against–the cognitive dissonance in my head I keep struggling with, is what I keep seeing in practice (and talk about in theory vs. in practice)–like in theory, you should be able to get the signals–founder background, progress against goals, customer satisfaction, whatever, you should be able to measure all these things.

What we just find is that what we just deal with every day is not numbers, is nothing you can quantify; it’s idiosyncrasies of people, and under the pressure of a startup, idiosyncrasies of people get magnified out to like a thousand fold. People will become like the most extreme versions of themselves under the pressure they get under at a startup, and then that’s either to the good or to the bad or both.

People have their own issues, have interpersonal conflicts between people, so the day job is so much dealing with people that you’d have to have an AI bot that could, like, sit down and do founder therapy.

My guess is we’re still a ways off.

Who knew that developing data-driven tech solutions could be challenging in a profession that at its core is focused on human idiosyncrasies, especially under conditions of stress?

I love the description of the challenge as Human Idosyncracies. What’s interesting to me from a healthcare perspective is if we can generalize these idosyncracies in the way we treat patients.

June 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.

Using Your Mobile Trail to Improve Your Health

Mobile Health Trail

I’d always heard people talk about the value of the data collected on a mobile device and how that could be leveraged to benefit your health. However, this is the best illustration of this concept that I’ve ever seen. It’s really easy to see how much of this data could be leveraged to improve your health. There’s certainly some privacy questions, but the next generation seems to not care about it. I wonder what apps we’ll see that leverage all of this data about our habits.

June 1, 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.

Will mHealth Apps Replaced by Chatbots?

Michael Yuan has a great post that looks at chatbots for healthcare and uses the great headline that “mHealth apps are so 2014!” Michael makes some great points about the challenges of getting patients to download mobile health apps and to get them to engage with those apps long term. There have been very few breakout hits in the mobile health app space.

For those not familiar with Chatbots, they essentially use artificial intelligence to appropriately respond to you on your favorite chat platform (Facebook Messenger, Kik, Whatsapp, Wechat (China), Google Messenger etc etc etc). Some of you may have seen my post about the way a Chinese Health Tracker integrates with WeChat. There are some really incredible benefits of engaging a patient on a messaging platform that they’re using daily already.

I think that most people just fear that messaging platforms aren’t powerful enough to really engage the patient. They often ask, can a text message change patient behavior? If you look at the WeChat integration mentioned above, you’ll see that most of these messaging platforms are becoming much more than just a set of simple text messages. However, let’s set that aside and just think about the power of a text message.

When Facebook announced their new partner program to allow people to create chatbots on their messaging platform, I asked my friend Melissa McCool from STI Innovations and MindStile if you could change people’s behavior with something as simple as a series of text messages. Her answer was a simple, “Yes.”

Of course, the devil’s in the details, but I trust that Melissa knows about how to influence patient behavior based on her experience doing it in many large healthcare organizations. The challenge isn’t technical though. Sending a text message, building a chat bot, sending a message on any of these platforms is completely academic. My 12 year old son could do it. What’s hard is what you should send, when you should send it and to whom.

While it’s great to see technology become easier and easier, that hasn’t made the challenge of behavior change that much easier. Sure, it’s great that the patient will actually read the message the majority of the time if you send it using one of these popular messaging apps. However, that doesn’t mean that the message will be effective. We still have a lot of work to send the right messages at the right time in the right way to the right people.

May 26, 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.

Is Healthcare Overhead Holding Back New #DigitalHealth Solutions?

Earlier this year I wrote an article that questioned whether the Fitbit was really a digital health solution. I essentially came to the conclusion that Fitbit’s health data wasn’t clinically relevant and so that’s why we didn’t see it really impacting healthcare as we know it.

While Fitbit’s data may not be clinically relevant, Fitbit has still gone on to be an extremely successful wearable technology solution for consumers. For some reason we enjoy tracking our steps whether it really improves our health or not. Of course, maybe they’re also riding our own misconception that tracking steps improves health. Regardless, they’ve been extremely successful and haven’t had to prove that they actually do anything to move the needle in healthcare.

I wonder if this is the model that we’ll see happen most with digital health solutions. Instead of trying to actually take part in the ruthless, brutal, and complex healthcare infrastructure, I expect we’ll see most digital health solutions work on the outside.

Think about the overhead that comes with becoming FDA cleared or the overhead that comes with proving to a hospital that your solution really does improve patients’ health. That’s a lot of work compared with just creating the illusion of health and selling it directly to consumers. Maybe the illusion will play out as reality or maybe it will not. From a company’s point of view, all you have to do is keep the illusion in play and you can be successful.

No doubt this later strategy appeals to the startup culture that’s been created in the US. There’s so little that’s “lean startup” of MVP (minimum viable product) in healthcare. Most people in healthcare are afraid of anything that’s not mature. Healthcare regulations certainly discriminate against experimentation and show bias to mature technologies.

The only case that really can be made to entrepreneurs who want to pursue the harder path of proving their technologies is that once they’ve proved it they have a great defense against competitors who haven’t gone to that effort. That’s a powerful incentive, but not one that most will appreciated when starting a digital health startup company.

My gut tells me that the complexities of healthcare are holding many innovations from happening in healthcare. That’s unfortunate.

May 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.

Walgreens Goes Big on Telemedicine Including New Behavioral Health Service

This was extremely big news for Telehealth in general, but even more so from a mental and behavioral health perspective. In case you missed the news, Walgreens and MDLIVE are partnering to offer telehealth and behavioral telehealth services (technically MDLIVE is partnering with Breakthrough for the behavioral health piece).

Walgreens involvement in telemedicine is such a big deal and is going to really push telemedicine much faster than it’s already going. Currently they can offer their telehealth medical services in 37 states (this announcement added 13 states). Here’s the type of services you can receive through these services:

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Cold / Flu
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear problems
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Insect bites
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Pink eye
  • Rash
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sore throats
  • Urinary problems / UTI
  • Vaginitis
  • And more

On the behavioral telehealth front, you can get non prescription services in all 50 states and behavioral health prescribing services will be available in 20 states. Here’s a look at the list of services they can offer in behavioral health:

  • Addictions
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Child and adolescent issues
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Life changes
  • Men’s issues
  • Panic disorders
  • Parenting issues
  • Postpartum depression
  • Relationship and marriage issues
  • Stress
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Women’s issues
  • And more

This announcement has been met by much rejoicing in the mental health community. I think that many of them see these telehealth services as a great way to get more mental health services out to patients who wouldn’t otherwise get treatment. It sure feels like telehealth has finally arrived.

May 12, 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.

Are There Too Many Healthcare Apps?

Today Anne Zieger wrote a blog post arguing that there are too many healthcare apps. It’s a really interesting take on the plethora of healthcare apps out there and the need for there to be apps that handle more than one specific condition or measurement. Anne argues that patients don’t want to open a whole bunch of different apps to manage their health. Plus, she points out that the highest cost patients are often chronic patients whose health needs to be managed across multiple diseases and multiple data points.

While I find Anne’s analysis interesting, I’m prone to think that we actually need more healthcare apps. I say that because I don’t think the current crop of healthcare apps are really moving the needle. So, we need more healthcare apps that actually attack the right problems. Piggybacking Anne’s comments, I’m not sure the current crop of apps are going to scale to the complexity of a patient, so we likely need new healthcare apps that work with that complexity in mind.

The reality I’ve seen with most healthcare apps is that they lack ambition. Can you name a healthcare app that illustrates the ambition to improve the health of a patient and lowers the cost of healthcare as we know it? Those are big claims to make and so you don’t see anyone claiming it. Claims aside, are there any companies that are really doing it?

My experience shows that there are a few apps that in a very limited scope are able to improve the health of the patient. Although, very very few of them have done the studies necessary to be able to claim that. They have plenty of anecdotal stories about how their app improved someone’s life. However, they don’t yet have the data to prove what they believe their app is able to accomplish.

It’s going to take a lot more ambition from healthcare app developers to really attach the problems that vex healthcare. Keeping someone healthy is an extremely complex issue and won’t likely be solved by a 99 cent app.

If that’s too big of a vision for you as an entrepreneur, how about you start with a simpler concept. Show me an app that changes people’s behavior. Let’s start with something that simple and scale from there. Most health apps aren’t even brave enough to take on that challenge. I’m not blaming them. It’s hard, but that’s what will make it so valuable.

May 4, 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.