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mHealth, big data, e-clinical services: Lifting the curtain of the connected health model
PharmaVoice – March 2014
Connected health is an emerging model for healthcare delivery that uses new digital tools and technology to improve care and reduce costs. It affects all intersections of care, from clinical trials to patient outcomes.
In the latest edition of PharmaVoice, leaders throughout the healthcare landscape were interviewed for their thoughts on what the connected health model means to them and their area of the industry. closerlook, inc. CEO David Ormesher divided his categorizations of the large connected health landscape using the helpful metaphor of the stage: the front stage (for those products and services visible and useful to consumers, patients, or providers) and the back stage (those products and services supporting connectivity, security, coordination and business models).
For the front stage, Ormesher sees the new fitness tracking apps and devices as key to consumers getting a more convenient form of healthcare delivery. “With the proliferation of smartphones, sensors and wearable devices all connected to the Internet, there will be an explosion of personalized data that will change how healthcare is delivered,” he says. “Using the front-stage/back stage rubric, the front stage will include these consumer and patient input sources, EMR/EHR interfaces and content and feedback platforms such as content websites, social media and personal data visualization to track and monitor health. These front-stage components will serve as parts of a real-time personal health decision support system.”
To support the personal health platform offered by connected health, Ormesher believes that the back stage must “evolve as an open-architecture, cloud-based system that can provide integration and ultimately sense-making of all this data, both on the personal and the public health levels. Mobile infrastructure, data exchanges and provider networks such as ACOs and HIEs will be the backbone…providing privacy, security and connectivity. But to be successful, it can’t be a centralized database. Open-source and agile software development shows us that to be nimble and responsive, the back stage needs to be built on a distributed architecture.”
Drivers to consumer adoption
Driver: Fitness tracking
Ormesher sees three primary drivers to the adoption of connected health by consumers in 2014. The first is from the fitness/wellness trend, sometimes called the “Quantified Self movement,” where proactive consumers use devices and apps to track their personal health data, including movement, sleep, weight, nutrition, blood sugar, blood pressure, the list goes on and on. These “wellness geeks,” according to Ormesher, “will drive the device manufacturers to provide integration and the ability to correlate the inputs with fitness outcomes.” And once doctors see these apps and devices being used, they can begin to prescribe the different mHealth (mobile health) solutions to their patients.
Driver: Aging in place
The next driver is what Ormesher calls “aging in place.” He notes that, “Caregivers are looking for technology to help them care for their loved ones while they age at home rather than in a nursing home… Vital sign sensors will enable patient self-management and give caregivers and healthcare professionals timely data on the well-being of the patient.” This sort of real-time feedback allows for a better quality of life for aging patients and gives their loved ones peace of mind knowing they always can monitor the situation.
Driver: Patient social media
Lastly, Ormesher sees the sharing of personal health stories and the detailing of their care as instrumental in growing the connected health model, and cites early leaders like PatientsLikeMe showing “that large sets of self-reported patient data can provide valuable drug efficacy information.” Ormesher foresees more people taking their health and diagnostic concerns into their own hands as the connected health model gains more adopters. “By democratizing data and giving both consumers and physicians better information about disease, care and efficacy on a personalized level, there will be a decisive shift in value away from the large, bureaucratic and centralized ‘medical mainframe’ sources of care to a distributed peer-to-peer model,” he said.
How do we implement it?
In order to implement the connected health model, Ormesher sees change coming from both the top and the bottom. In a top-down approach, by giving patients and caregivers their data, “the industry [reduces] the information asymmetries that have always been present in healthcare, giving patients and physicians better insight.” He believes the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on transparency is already allowing patients to compare and contrast their health outcomes from different treatments. Therefore, in the “bottoms-up” approach, Ormesher sees patients ready to willingly share their healthcare data through patient-controlled dashboards, as long as they have a choice in the matter.
With streamlined communication between the top of the industry (government agencies, insurance providers/pharmacy benefit managers, labs, regional health information exchanges) and the bottom (patients and caregivers), the connected health model is an exciting progression of the healthcare system that can bring empowerment to more patients and an interoperability of data to the industry at large.
The drugs, Optistavin, Easovartis and Librylin, and names, results, case studies and specific information, referenced in this advertisement are fictional and were created solely for illustrating the digital marketing capabilities of closerlook, inc. Any resemblance to actual drugs, medications, treatments, persons, living or dead, or to actual events, is purely coincidental. closerlook, inc. does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any party for any loss, damage or disruption caused by such party’s reliance on the fictitious information contained in this illustration.