A short but canny look at consumer behavior as a driver of health technology

Whether the global ‘smart home healthcare’ market actually totals $30bn by 2023, as a Research and Markets study trumpets, is debatable, but one thing that this Editor agrees with is that successful home health devices need to take a chapter from Steve Jobs’ Apple and famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy’s playbooks (search our Loewy references here) and design for how the consumer lives and would use their product. It isn’t flashy design awards, but how that technology can not only fit into a person’s life but also be an asset that they’d miss if someone took it away–a point often forgotten in the rush of initial design, testing, and funding.

Writer Scott Thielman of Product Creation Studio, a Seattle-based industrial design and engineering firm, outlines four health tech products/services that represent technology that is intuitive, easy-to-use, accessible, and, I would add, have a little something extra that makes them indispensable.

  • Athelas, a next-generation immune monitoring device that resembles an Amazon Alexa in being a 3D black cylinder. Instead of playing music, it measures neutrophils, lymphocytes, platelets, white blood cells, morphology, and cell activation all within minutes from a test strip inserted in the cylinder. (Investigational device awaiting FDA review)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)’s smart toilet seat (which Editor Charles punningly referred to here) was tested with heart failure patients. It measured nine clinically relevant features, including weight, single-lead ECG, systolic/diastolic blood pressure, blood oxygenation and localized pulse timing, and a ballistocardiogram (BCG) for measuring the mechanical forces associated with the cardiac cycle. Normally, the patient would have to use several devices for these measurements rather than taking a seat. Speaking of the seat, it is standard white and replaces the one in the bathroom. Results were published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth.
  • ResMed’s connection of its continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) sleep apnea treatment devices to the cloud before the patient uses them, plus their patient smartphone app helps them to claim that 84 percent of new users reach the necessary usage threshold for Medicare adherence in the first 90 days of treatment.
  • Clarify Medical’s build-in of user feedback for its home vitiligo and psoriasis treatment that goes direct to their in-house customer service also registers patient usage, needed fixes, and outreach to those who need additional coaching and training.
  • Livongo’s acquisition of myStrength’s behavioral health app [TTA 31 Jan] also points to the importance of consumer behavior in a somewhat different aspect–the 20 percent and more who are struggling with behavioral health issues along with one or more chronic conditions managed by Livongo for employers and health plans.

How to design home healthcare devices that people will use (Medical Design & Outsourcing)

 

Samsung’s $8bn Harman buy: what’s the digital health implications? (UPDATED)

UPDATED Monday’s big news (other than the Dow Jones post-US election climb, China getting shirty on trade and the severe 7.8 magnitude quakes near Christchurch NZ where we hope our Readers are OK) is the $8bn acquisition of Harman International by Samsung Electronics. Those of us who are most familiar with Connecticut-based Harman in the audio area (in cars and Harman/Kardon speakers on this Editor’s bookshelf) will be surprised at their powerhouse status in the automotive industry as a technology hardware and software supplier to GM, BMW and Volkswagen. Its technology is in 30 million vehicles and is tidily profitable. It is also unusual for Samsung as they have tended to grown internally and organically, versus by acquisition. Harman will be operated as a standalone company. (Articles also point out the change at Samsung’s top, with a new generation ascending to control this family-controlled company.)

It diversifies Samsung well past the uncertainties and the maturity of the smartphone business not only into a direct supplier relationship with car makers, but also in how the relationship between man and car transportation is changing. Beyond the obvious like self-driving (piloted driving) cars where Tesla, Ford, Uber, Apple and Alphabet are playing (and the more near-term area like partial assistance in driving), there is a chicken-egg dynamic on cabin enhancements–what can be done versus what should be done. (Designer Raymond Loewy’s MAYA–most advanced yet acceptable.)

  • What connected technologies are helpful and valuable to the driver and passengers?
  • Which ones increase safety, autonomy and security?
  • Which ones add to the driver ‘load’ of distractions and increase danger to the driver and others?
    • Pilots term this a too-busy cockpit. Remember that drivers aren’t pilots and don’t go through checklists and walkarounds before and after driving. We want to turn the key, tune the radio and go.
    • Which ones can be made to be not distracting?
  • What happens when the technologies malfunction or break?
  • What happens to cost and affordability? (All the whiz-bang tech can put a vehicle out of reach for the many. It would be counter-productive and elitist to return driving to the early 20th Century decades where cars were owned by the few and wealthy–Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan had a different thought), though some would like that outcome.)
  • How seamless and secure can IoT be in a vehicle, as it is not secure at present?

All these are in the sub-text of five mega-trends noted at last week’s CES Unveiled New York by the Consumer Technology Association, notably as part of the cheerleading around ‘Transportation Transformation’ and ‘Connections and Computations’. (More about this separately in a later article on CES Unveiled.)

Let’s drill down into the nearer-term health tech aspects, where Samsung has been a leader in their phones and tablets, and what the Harman acquisition might mean there.

The first is the mobilization of what is presently in the home and phone.  (more…)

‘Déjà vu all over again’ or critical mass? NYTimes looks at older adult care tech

“It’s like déjà vu all over again” as Yogi Berra, the fast-with-a-quip Baseball Hall of Fame catcher-coach-manager once said. About 2006-7, telecare broke through as a real-world technology and the tone of the articles then was much like how this New York Times article starts. But the article, in the context of events in the past two years, indicate that finally, finally there is a turning point in care tech, and we are on the Road to Critical Mass, where the build, even with a few hitches, is unstoppable.

Have telehealth, telecare, digital health or TECS (whatever you’d like to call it) turned the corner of acceptability? More than that, has it arrived at what industrial designer Raymond Loewy dubbed MAYA (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable) in keeping older adults safer and healthier at home? The DIY-installed Lively! system keeps an eye on a hale 78 year old (more…)

Assistive tech for older adults gets fresh developer interest, funding

Companies and investors are waking up to the potential of technology to assist both older people, wherever they live, and families to keep in touch, live more safely and to compensate for impediments created by physical or cognitive conditions. Ozy, an online news aggregator new to this Editor, notes the $5 trillion annually that boomers and older adults spend in what’s termed the ‘new old-age economy’ (AARP has previously termed it the ‘longevity economy‘) and that there’s money in tech solutions to their problems. Examples: the Lift Labs [TTA 1 Oct 13] stabilizing food utensil that cancels out most active tremors (as in Parkinson’s) while eating; Caremerge which has EHR, care coordination and secure messaging features for the care team in long-term and transitional care, but also connects families with a smartphone app and residents with reminders; GeriJoy [TTA 3 July 14], a tablet that combines an interactive pet avatar/companion with engagement, reminder and education tools for older and cognitively impaired adults.

While we’ve noted many developments along similar lines over the past ten years, interest and financial backing is aligning. (more…)

Humanoid robots and virtual humans in the ‘uncanny valley’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/uncanny_2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]One of the challenges that designers of both robots and ‘virtual humans’ in online simulation settings is to make them, in the dictum of pioneering industrial designer Raymond Loewy, MAYA–‘most advanced yet acceptable’. The MAYA of robotics appearance was stated about 40 years ago by Professor Masahiro Mori at the Tokyo Institute of Technology; the more human and less machine-like the appearance, the more positive a real human’s emotional response will be. But as simulated humans have progressed in commercial animation and in online settings to ‘almost human’, there is a ‘creepiness factor’ that emerges (more…)