As a B2B marketer in the Boston-based Skyhook Wireless, I had the opportunity to attend this past Mobile Monday in Boston, which highlighted the rapidly maturing mobile healthcare technology industry. Speakers from AthenaHealth, American Well, Fitbit, Quanttus and QMedicHealth all shared their perspectives on mobile health and the benefits of an always on, always available health care ecosystem. The two prominent themes throughout the evening centered around wearable technology for continuous fitness and health monitoring as well as convenient, readily-available health care from any location with telehealth - here are some highlights:
1) Wearable technology offers always on fitness and health monitoring
Will Crawford, Head of the Boston Office for Fitbit began the wearables discussion, commenting that wearable technology offers actionable data which customers can use to make better health decisions. In a mobile world where we are in control of gathering our own health data via wearable technology and fitness trackers, we now have the ability to interpret our own data in order to change our behavior for a healthier lifestyle. Consumers are no longer as passive as they once were: they want to manage their health and have an active role in their wellness.
He continued his talk with examples of how people have interacted with the Fitbit API to visualize live data. One user created a visualization of his steps per day to draw a pattern analysis on how his activity levels affected his productivity at work. Another collected data with the Fitbit API to study whether activity level was a predictor of length of stay in the hospital post surgery. What he found by using the Fitbit device is that more activity early on after surgery is strongly predictive of length of stay at the hospital. This data provides an incentive to get active after surgery in order to reduce hospital time.
Scott Mackie of Quanttus added to the discussion by sharing how sensing technology allows us to gather truly continuous data when technology is something you can wear all the time. This continuous data gives us context on what we are doing that might be affecting our blood pressure, for example. This technology takes us to a new frontier, because nobody knows what data on continuous blood pressure can tell us. “We need to extract meaning from this data and turn it into something useful,” says Mackie. “Insight into continuous health data enables prevention and inspires proactivity.” So far, Quanttus has made two medical diagnoses from the data their sensing technology has gathered, although these discoveries were not revealed at this time.
Sombit Mishra of QMedicHealth also commented on wearables, pointing out that their technology can continuously monitor behavior in the home and can send real-time alerts to caregivers when problems or unnatural behavior is detected. QMedic is the only medical alert solution that alerts when a user is not wearing the device, fails to get out of bed, or is out of the home. This always-on monitoring functionality enables peace of mind for loved ones who can’t be there all the time but who want to monitor how grandma is doing.
2) Telehealth for readily available, convenient health care from any location
Mary Modahl of American Well then spoke about telehealth, beginning the discussion by explaining that healthcare is shifting due to an increase in access to insurance. This shift has created more demand for doctors than there is supply. One idea behind mobile health is to create a convenient and easy way for health care to be available, and for doctors to manage their patients.
Modahl explains that telehealth allows doctors and patients to connect with each other over the internet and enables a modern relationship anywhere, at anytime. This new system of doctor patient connection eliminates the wait time to see a doctor: where it once was 45 minutes of sitting in a waiting room, it is now an average of 2 minutes wait time on your mobile device or desktop. Modahl shares with us that 93% of people who have their first appointment online save a significant amount of time. This type of health care provides convenience and immediacy for patients trying to connect to doctors as well as for doctors who need to check in with their patients.
Chip Ach of AthenaHealth also commented on how important it is to get to a health care system that is centered around convenience and optimized around accessibility in order to increase patient satisfaction. He spoke about the vision he has to provide a solution to the gap between provider needs and company solutions. In order to do so, they needed to build the right relationship, which consists of a trial and error process that he compares to dating.
Mobile Monday this month brought to light one of the notoriously slowest-to-adopt-technology industry, healthcare - yet it’s essential for the existing provider processes to keep up in such a rapidly growing and tech-savvy population. Thankfully, new mobile technology and innovation being conducted by the above companies is leading to the development of new opportunities for convenient health care. Enhanced device functionality layered with context enables patients to better control their own fitness and health data.