A just-released survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and telemedicine provider LiveHealth Online indicates a near-total desire for–and ability to access–on-demand, 24/7 healthcare and virtual visits. The key motivations are economic, convenience and educational: 71 percent cited the loss of at least two hours of time at work and school due to taking their child to the doctor’s office.
Given their age (starting at 18 and up to 59), the 500+ moms surveyed not surprisingly felt confident using health technology, with 82 percent believing themselves to be the most ‘health-tech savvy’ in the family.
- 64 percent stated that having access to healthcare on-demand was more important than having streaming video or food delivery
- 64 percent (64%) of women surveyed said they found it challenging to take their kids to the doctor during office hours during the school year
- 79 percent said they would be interested in trying or learning more about telemedicine to help themselves and/or their family when faced with a non-emergency medical issue
Over half–54 percent–believed that online video doctor visits would improve their confidence in attending to family health, “like having a health security blanket”.
The survey apparently did not test for price sensitivity; for instance, per visit fees and amount subsidized by the payer.
It was conducted earlier this year by EmpowHER, an online health community for women. BCBSGa’s interest is that it offers coverage for online visits to many of its health plan members via LiveHealth Online, which uses the American Well network but is a separate company. BCBSGa release, EmpowHER/LiveHealth infographic, Internet Health Management
An interesting adjunct to this survey would have been to ask about ideal healthcare tools used in conjunction with that online doctor visit. This is anticipated to be a major market for advanced ‘all-in-one’ telehealth diagnostic units such as those developed by Tyto Care, Scanadu Scout or MedWand [TTA 2 Nov]. These are not only capable of taking standard vital signs, but also clinical quality digital pictures of those sore throats and inflamed ear canals.
A fascinating and slightly cynical overview of Silicon Valley’s ideological view of health tech that will fix our ‘deeply flawed healthcare system’ and what is getting funded (or not) is in next month’s San Francisco magazine. It profiles the ‘citizen doctor’ founders of vital signs ‘tricorder’ Scanadu (Sam–who’s not often mentioned–and Walter De Brouwer), bacteria tracker uBiome, ‘personal data recorder’ and experience charter We Are Curious (founded by Linda Avey, a long-departed co-founder of 23andme) and touches on the Theranos debacle. While these stories are bracing and in the instance of the De Brouwers, courageous, the notion of ‘citizen science’ (defined as direct-to-consumer health data) and its companion, Dr Eric Topol’s patient-centered/controlled medicine, has its drawbacks, viewed through the slightly gimlety ‘digital doctor’ eye of UC San Francisco’s Dr Robert Wachter. “The overarching message—not just from Theranos but from other companies struggling to get a toehold—is that, ultimately, the laws of economic gravity hold. The companies will have to produce products that add real value, either to patients or to payers. If they don’t, the market—or the regulators—won’t treat them kindly.” Flatly, there aren’t enough Quantified Selfers right now to support these companies. And Mr Market is a hard master. 23andme is back in the good graces of the FDA after a two-year scuffle and back doing direct response TV here in the US. Scanadu’s two products, Vitals (formerly Scout) and Urine are still not through the long slog of FDA clearance. The jury’s out on Theranos. And all these companies, including ‘unicorn’ Theranos, are bleeding cash and nowhere near turning a profit. ModernLuxury. Hat tip to Dr Topol via Twitter, who had a patient-centered conversation with Dr Wachter that we covered back in September. Another recent podcast with Dr Wachter is here (Community Health Center radio).
Update: ‘Citizen science’ is nothing new, as revealed by the Science Museum (London)–it’s over 300 years old. While it entered the OED in 2014, ‘in 1715, Edmund Halley used Philosophical Transactions to ask colleagues to help him observe a total solar eclipse, prompting observers from all over the country to respond.’ Other examples are from Benjamin Robins in the same publication in 1749 on fireworks, Charles Darwin and evolution, to the present day. The difference is the flow–similar to what we now call crowdsourcing versus the individual using the data to affect their care.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Scanadu-Scout.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Eric Topol’s Doctorless Patient takes one step closer to reality. The Scanadu ‘tricorder’ vital signs diagnostic ‘hockey puck’ received a major vote of confidence on Monday where it counts–funding. Their Series B of $35 million came from nine investors, led by Tencent Holdings, Fosun International and including Three Leaf Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Redmile Group, Relay Ventures, I Globe Partners, Fenox Venture Capital and CBC Capital. Three Leaf, AME and Relay also invested in their Series A. Tencent, Fosun and CBC are Chinese; I Globe is from Singapore. Why the Asian interest? It turns out that China is extremely interested and forward thinking in mobile healthcare–it has a lot of rural area to cover, all health-underserved, as is the rest of Asia. The introduction of the company was made by Jerry Wang, a Yahoo founder and former CEO.
Scanadu is also nearing market: Fortune reports that a $199 consumer version of the Scanadu Scout will be released in 2016, pending FDA approval, and in development is a urinalysis test, Scanadu Urine, an app that would analyze the color of a testing stick. (more…)
Long-term sensors, smart thermometers and the Scanadu Nirvana
The first study of long term use of carbon nanotubes as implanted sensors has been published in Nature Nanotechnology. The nanotubes were implanted for a year in animals to track nitrous oxide (NO), an indicator of inflammation which is important in and of itself, but the level of NO is also not understood long term in cancer. To detect NO, the tubes are wrapped in DNA with a particular sequence and wrapped in an alginate gel to stay in place for a recorded 400 days. The MIT team working on this is also working on nanotubes for real-time detection of glucose levels, towards an accurate insulin pump that would end the diabetic’s perpetual Battle of Stalingrad. MIT News and FierceHealthIT.
The Kinsa smart thermometer for iPhone and Android received a glowing article in Fast Company Design. (more…)