Health tech enthusiasm ≠ implementation and scale

Laurie Orlov’s impressions of this year’s Connected Health Symposium, hosted as usual by Partners HealthCare in Boston, presents the conundrum that telehealth and health tech faces beyond the consumer segment, booming fitness trackers and the apps bought one day, discarded the next. How do you get telehealth beyond the pilot to a permanent program in a health system? Do these systems really want to move healthcare to the home? According to Ms. Orlov, there’s amazingly no change from last year on these questions. They are still testing, not broadly deploying (how do companies like Ideal Life and Care Innovations [ever-funded? really?] which aren’t near substantial adoption continue?); and health systems are moving care from brick-and-mortar to the home but slowly, still. Continuing too is the lack of focus on how technology can work best with older adults.  She says it best:

“CMS still waits for proof, still granting innovation awards that study, but do not broadly reimburse, remotely-delivered care. Meanwhile Medicare penalties for patient readmission will rise next year.” and

“Seriously, is the key to keeping these seniors at home a combination of greater emotional connection and improved patient engagement? What about mitigating loneliness and isolation? Could remotely delivered telehealth services help? Wait until next year for answers. Only the doctors know for sure.” (Ed. emphasis)

Editor Donna hasn’t been at a CHS since 2009, in my early days as an Editor for then-Telecare Aware. At the time and coming from ‘pure telecare’, it was a crash course on health tech and systems. In four years, we’ve gone up and down and up at least three hype curves. Now it seems from this report the conference does seem a bit frozen in amber, and they are addressing the needs of the aging population even less. Is it true of ‘connected health’ in general, or are we just, in Silicon Valley terms, ‘pivoting’ to what gets ever-scarcer VC funding?

How the ‘connected health’ market has changed. Partners HealthCare/Center for Connected Health’s first spinoff in 2010 was Healthrageous, which then was absolutely ‘on trend’ with personal health management/consumer engagement tools for groups to lower costs. Humana, Healthrageous and some object lessons looks at its origins, demise (after burning through $15 million in funding) and acquisition. Now, staying ‘on trend’, CCH has launched a presumably far more cost efficient approach through their new website, Wellocracy launched to explain fitness tracking, apps.

Related coverage: Toni Bunting in TANN Ireland looks at three views on the third EU-US Connected Health Conference, co-located and preceding the Connected Health Symposium, all part of Massachusetts Connected Health Week.

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  1. Just look at the VA and the validity to proceed is proved beyond any doubt. This adoption is proceeding as if the Congress was in charge.

    “There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old system and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one.”
    Some things haven’t changed in 500 years

    John Boden