The Mission to Elevate Health: Part Two

The mission of Elevate is to not only to strategically elevate our clients’ businesses but to help elevate healthcare overall. So we are always on the prowl for developments, perspectives, and landscape trends that are elevate-worthy. We’ll bring them to you here.

Today, the goal of technology in health is different than ever before

For the history of modern medicine, the driving force behind the vast leaps forward in medicine and healthcare has been improved education in medical schools producing brilliant physicians, surgeons, nurses, and medical researchers. But there has been a dramatic shift over the last few decades. It is now medical technology that far and away has been connected to virtually every important development elevating healthcare.

But the real crux of today’s technology revolution is not a better drug technology, or device or surgical technique. The new technology revolution in health is about patient involvement, interaction and engagement in the service of improving outcomes and elevating healthcare.

Some of the most recent promising trends are focused on using technology to increase interaction. The goals is to allow—empower—patients to be more engaged with their own health and treatment of their conditions, and to encourage greater communication and interaction between patients and providers, all making for better outcomes. Here are just 3 examples of how this kind of technology is aiming to elevate health—and how they’re doing so far.

Mobile based or mHealth initiatives 

Providers and mHealth app developers are always looking for innovative ways to improve the tools they use for patient engagement purposes. There are several ways mHealth is being used to tighten the engagement distance between patients and their healthcare providers. Remote monitoring using phones or tablets is increasing the ability of providers to keep a tighter control over conditions or patients that need more frequent interactions to achieve better outcomes. e-visits using video conferencing are revolutionizing how patients and providers interact, during and in between visits, giving providers a more open line of communication to patients and caregivers, and an advanced way to track a patient’s recovery or health. Likewise, a videoconference between a patient, their primary provider and a needed specialist streamline the continuum of care and contribute to better outcomes. Interactive, on-going lifestyle coaching, activity tracking and monitoring is also elevating healthcare. Patient education on specific conditions, proactive medication alerts and routine checks on blood pressure and glucose levels are tasks that can be completed by remote patient monitoring tools. There are still a few concerns to be fully resolved, such as security, device protection, cost and integration with existing EHR solutions – but the move toward mHealth is accelerating—and elevating healthcare.

Wearables and the rise of patient digital engagement

The promise of wearables to elevate healthcare is tremendous. And the technology on its way to making the leap from novel technology to useful tool. It just has to pass a few hurdles. A recent article by J.C Herz in Wired Magazine points out how we have yet to harness such powerful and innovative technology to help millions with chronic medical illnesses.

As things currently stand, existing companies’ technology in wearables has so far been utilized the most by tech aficionados and athletes who marvel in tracking personal health data. In the article, Herz makes clear references to multiple regulatory stumbling blocks, adding not only cost but logistical obstacles to pushing forward–including HIPAA and the FDA. She points out that right now, many of these innovative gadgets are often put away, not outlasting the novelty of a 6-month period.

In fact, a report last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Initiative (HRI) evaluating the state of wearable digital technology and devices further supports that fact: Less than half of people who own a wearable use it on a daily basis.

But yet there is hope for the future of wearable technology to elevate healthcare. THE HRI report goes on to make some recommendations:

  1. Put diagnostic testing of basic conditions into the hands of patients: Close to 42% of physicians are comfortable relying on at-home test results to prescribe medication.
  2. Increase patient-clinician interaction:  Half of physicians said that e-visits could replace more than 10% of in-office patient visits, and nearly as many consumers indicated they would communicate with caregivers online.
  3. Promote self-management of chronic disease using health apps: 28% of consumers said they have a healthcare, wellness, or medical app on their mobile device, up from 16% last year.  Nearly 66% of physicians would prescribe an app to help patients manage chronic diseases such as diabetes.
  4. Help caregivers work more as a team: 79% of physicians and close to 50% of consumers believe using mobile devices can help physicians better coordinate care.

It’s clear from HRI’s report that major stakeholders in the healthcare industry including hospitals, insurers and the pharmaceutical industry all believe that major changes will occur in how healthcare is delivered. But instead of being about day-to-day maintenance of healthy lifestyles, the real promise of wearable devices may lie in the management of chronic conditions like diabetes, for example, or in treating permanent injuries, like head trauma.

According to Rich Able, CMO and Founder of X2bio, a company dedicated to sensors for monitoring head injuries, “effectively utilizing wearable technology is the key to helping advance our healthcare system to reach the next level—detection and correction of course-based data, predicated on real-time evaluation.”

And a little farther out on the edge for wearables—new technology is swapping the gadget-y prompts and screen from your Apple watch for more intuitive, biometric sensors and learning algorithms that can instantly measure and analyze data from heart rate to skin galvanic response to blood oxygen levels and UV exposure. Kate Unsworth, Co-founder and CEO of VINAYA, a company that has designed the next generation of wearable wrist technology, describes it this way: “As a period of senseless innovation evolves into super smart sensing technology, we’re shifting into an entirely new paradigm that will bring new meaning to wearables.” The idea is that this kind of biometric measuring and analysis provides instant feedback that will empower us to know more about ourselves and our overall physical health and emotional wellbeing. What’s more it provides “big data” that can be used to create a clearer picture of public health in a region, or a nation, and enact strategies to elevate overall health.

While still in development, it seems that wearable technology has the potential to elevate health on both an individual and a collective scale.

VR tools

While VR coverage focuses mainly on entertainment and gaming opportunities, its most important applications may come in the health care space. In fact, VR is already playing a role in a number of important medical areas—in both patient engagement and physician-based applications. Healthcare is one of the biggest adopters of virtual reality which encompasses a wide array of applications including surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery, skills training, diagnostics and more.

Since 2012, there has been an exponential increase in the interest in and noise around mass market virtual reality (VR), thanks mainly to head mounted display (HMD) products in development like the Oculus RiftHTC ViveGear VR and Google Cardboard.

Alex Senson, on the tech site, comments on the future of VR shares:

“Overall, virtual reality in healthcare is still in its early days in terms of breakthrough treatment paradigms and widespread clinical adoption and use. Innovators in this field will be increasingly scrutinized regarding evidence for clinical efficacy through properly designed and controlled human trials. In the (not too distant) future, things will get really interesting with the seamless integration and intersection of technologies like VR with artificial intelligence, deep learning, big data analytics, sensors, bio-feedback and increased computing power. Smart, adaptive virtual simulations that learn as a patient interacts with it will revolutionize decentralized patient-focused care and fundamentally change the way healthcare is delivered.”

Sounds like a complete revolution in healthcare with VR is coming. And quickly. For more on VR in Pharma, read about Confideo Labs and others who are pioneering in the space.

Check back for the next series of blogs discussing factors that are helping to elevate healthcare by Elevate’s Chief Creative Officer, Barry Schmader

About Elevate Healthcare

Elevate is the only agency specializing in helping guide healthcare challenger brands—biopharma and medical device brands that need to overcome more powerful competitors, market limitations, and internal obstacles to achieve their full potential. Based in suburban Philadelphia, Elevate was founded in 2016 by two successful former healthcare agency presidents, Lorna Weir and Frank Powers, as a new kind of agency, purpose-built to serve clients in the current challenging and dynamic healthcare marketing landscape.

Contact Information:

Frank X. Powers