In addition to the innovators I spoke about in my last post, I also heard from panels of investors, advocates and horizon scanners about what it takes to develop Connected Health offerings. There are some interesting trends emerging from the investment/financial side side. For example, insurers are now beginning to provide venture investment in healthcare startups. Bill Geary, a partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, discussed his view that healthcare provision will become increasingly consumerised. Rather than having insurers and healthcare professionals take care of illness, individuals will move to decide on what they want and from which provider. One major driver is the rising deductible in healthcare insurance where the insured will have to pay the first, and ever rising, quantum of payment for healthcare. This will drive people to seek both value and quality. This trend may already be underway with some 9,000 health apps currently in Apple’s App Store, for example.
Taking the consumerisation of healthcare the furthest was Eileen Bartholomew, Senior Director of Life Science Prize Development at the X Prize Foundation. She outlined a new prize in development – The Tricorder X Prize – that will award €10M to a team that develops a mobile solution that can inexpensively diagnose patients by combining expert systems and medical point-of-care data. The aim is to “deskill” healthcare.
A final group, “The Futurists”, debated the trends in Connected Health during the final session of the meeting. Vaishali Kamat of Cambridge Consultants felt that the hot emerging technologies were likely to be microfluidics, low power, small sensors, user interfaces incorporating natural speech and communications. Peter Tippett of Verizon felt an emerging macro-theme was the putting of the patient into the centre of healthcare for the first time. However, he cautioned that the explosion of data resulting from Connected Health solutions required algorithms and data fusion methodologies to create knowledge and make it available in a usable format in a timely fashion at the point of decision making. A further caution came from the growing need for security in the storage, transmission and use of the data.
The closing talk was given by Joseph Kvedar, Director of Partners Centre for Connected Health, who spoke about what will be required to effectively change behaviour and improve outcomes for people to best benefit from the promise of Connected Health. This will require effective feedback loops of the sort recently written about in Wired Magazine. Firstly, provision of timely evidence of a behaviour, the relevance of it to your health, the consequences and finally an action to revert to more benign, adaptive behaviour. Several testimonies of people who’d benefited from Connected Health interventions were presented that illustrated vividly the power of this approach.
On the whole, the Connected Health Symposium was a thought-provoking blend of summing up where healthcare is today with a glimpse of what the future holds in terms of convergence between medicine, information technology and user psychology. Glad I went!