By Liz Prutting (’16)
I went to CES® in Las Vegas for my AMR project primarily to attend the 2016 Digital Health Summit and health and wellness exhibit at Sands Expo. Our AMR involves a UCLA Health project being nurtured within the David Geffen School of Medicine’s accelerator that assists with business analysis and identifying market entry and exit opportunities for clinically relevant IP coming out of UCLA. We were at the summit to identify other players in the remote monitoring and wearables space, and learn more about other products and services that are reshaping health care delivery and personal wellness management. We definitely got more exposure than we even thought possible, as there were a number of exhibitors, from big players (Fitbit, Misfit) to up-and-coming companies (Qardio, Dexcom).
The big themes at the Digital Health Summit were connectivity, data and analytics, and cognitive computing. Technology is helping patients, physicians and payers unite around a common goal by sharing information and receiving financial reward. Patients are looking to save finances and live a healthier life. Walgreens has done a good job of incentivizing users to give their data back, recognizing the value creation of their activity measurements on wearables and other remote diagnostic measuring devices by offering balance reward points. Physicians ultimately want to see patient progress and adherence to their advice and direction. Keeping this in mind when developing a new digital health technology, device or service is crucial to success.
When it comes to the future of data collection and analytics, the key is to accumulate data from users as passively as possible, and build in cognition to any measurement application in order to reduce information overload for the human mind. There’s an obvious shared sentiment from numerous experts that sensors are the future of health and wellness because they can collect data that could predict diseases and detect early onsets.
At the end of the day, putting on a wearable or other personal wellness device is not something all humans will do to measure or track their personal wellness. I saw more than 20 wearable companies at the expo, with little differentiation among them. Many think that the success of the Fitbit is not predictive of the future, and that many people own wearables but don’t do much with them, nor do they know how to act upon the data that they get. There needs to be greater emphasis on machine cognition to allow for a continuous feedback loop with health systems or other parties that would make the data more valuable and actionable for consumers in the long term.
Digital health players to keep an eye out for this year and beyond include:
- IBM Watson Health: Launched in April 2015, IBM is building an open source community of companies (acquired and merged) around attacking the big problems in health care in the U.S. and around the world with cognitive machine learning solutions.
- Validic: Cloud-based technology platform that connects patient-recorded data from digital health applications, devices and wearables to hospital systems, providers, pharmaceutical companies, payers and health information technology platforms, enabling providers to accelerate strategic health care initiatives.
- Apple: HealthKit is growing as a central platform for health information and increasing the number of compatible devices and applications, and they are looking to enter enterprise in 2016. Recent acquisition of Emotient (emotion detection and sentiment analysis) could also be a sign of things to come as they dive deeper into mHealth.