ATA 2017 dispatch: Devices and doom

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Drowning-in-paper.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Bruce Judson, our guest ATA 2017/Telehealth 2.0 reporter, is a bestselling author of books on business and technology issues in the evolving digital era. This is the third and final article this week he’s written from the ATA floor. Mr. Judson writes frequently for The Huffington Post. More on about him may be found in our review of his critique of the RAND telehealth study [25 Mar].

This Editor agrees with his POV that drowning doctors in more and more data, whether previously accessible or not, isn’t a way forward to a successful business model. The current data is overwhelming–and not interoperable with EHRs. More and more data, looking for a home….

Orlando, April 26. Yesterday, I set aside several hours to walk by the booths of the 200+ exhibitors at the ATA show. As I slowly walked the Exhibit Hall, I was struck by the large number of in-home telehealth patient monitoring devices. (Names are omitted to protect the innocent.)

Colleagues had similar reactions. When I asked about exhibitors, the most common response was “I had no idea there were so many new telehealth monitoring devices that are FDA approved or in the process of obtaining approval.”

As I wandered from booth to booth, I was also struck by the failure of so many, if not most, monitoring device manufacturers to focus on the practical uses of their truly revolutionary technologies. At each monitoring device booth, I asked the same question, “How will the data be used?”  All too often, the answer was, “We provide daily patient data for physicians that have never been accessible before, and doctors receive daily graphs.”

My follow-up questions were always, “You believe busy doctors will look at data on their large patient population each day? Why don’t you provide alerts?” Again, there was a frequent answer, which was some variation of “Yes, now doctors can see daily events which will lead to extraordinary improvements in health outcomes, and we don’t want to create alert fatigue” (false positives that suggest a problem where one does not exist).

In my view, monitoring devices without suites of robust predictive analytics will fail. Doctors are already too busy, and anything that adds to their workload is immediately suspect. Moreover, we still live in a fee for service world, and now we are talking about new, uncompensated work.

As Jonathan Linkous said to me on the first day of the ATA show, “the technology is a tool to provide the service,” not the service itself. Patient monitoring device firms must realize they are offering a service. To succeed, their services must provide actionable analysis, not more and more data. If alerts are ready for prime time, then doctors will value the devices: They can rely on the associated algorithms to indicate when an intervention (also to be compensated) is needed.

Moreover, I strongly suspect doctors would prefer a few false alerts, with algorithms biased toward safety and results that can be quickly checked via the underlying data, as compared to wading through charts looking for anomalies.

A fundamental question for anyone is “what business are you really in?” To succeed, many of the ATA exhibitors need to reorient themselves from the business of providing great technology to the business of providing great service enabled by technology.

Mr. Judson’s first article, a discussion with ATA’s Jonathan Linkous on business models for telehealth is here. The second article on Mercy Health’s catalyzing telehealth innovation at the hospital level is here.

‘Uninvited Guests’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SmartFork3-small-Superflux.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Wonder what it would be like to be older and ‘nannied’ by some of the ‘whiz-bang’ devices we promote as making life healthier and better? This short (4 minute) video dramatizes how a 70 year old man deals with the smartphone-connected devices–a food-monitoring fork, activity-tracking cane, pill dispenser and sleep monitor–his well-meaning children have provided to nag and monitor Dad at a distance. Dad dispenses with these annoying ‘uninvited guests’ in his own clever way. Produced by the UK/India-based design consultancy Superflux Lab for the ThingTank project, which explores the conflicts and frictions these IoT tools in the connected home can produce with humans. On Vimeo. Hat tip to Guy Dewsbury via Twitter.

Sensors>>data>>what next?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/17L_2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Three of our FBQs concern data–who’s looking at it, who’s taking action with it and how it’s integrated into records. MedCityNews examines two sensor-based monitors in considering how to extract meaning from the data. In the hospital, bed pressure sensor plate EarlySense already has a pressure sensor algorithm that reminds a nurse or aid to turn the patient, but their main emphasis is highlighting vital signs trending in heart and respiratory rate, which can be predictive of a deteriorating condition based on a set range. For the mid-range of the healthy fit who want to be fitter, MIO (left) is the first and at present, only device in a watch form which tracks heart rate monitoring at performance levels without a chest strap and downloads data to an iPhone–which doesn’t quite support the premise of the article, but then there’s that hint (MIO is sold in Apple Stores for $199) that the technology will wind up in smartwatches….but still, Magic 8 Ball says ‘concentrate and ask again’.