Category: Innovation in Healthcare

Starbucks, DC Physicians, and COVID-19

As you all know, I have been carefully studying various approaches to convincing people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. My monthly conversations with physicians in my On Doctors’ MindsSM research project have been revealing that for many doctors, continuing to try to convince their unvaccinated patients to get the shot is now seen as a waste of their time and potentially offensive to some patients.  SO. They have stopped.

Conversations with clergy reveal that while some are willing to make a case from the pulpit for vaccination because they believe it is the moral thing to do, others want to stay clear of the political overtones that have unfortunately come to accompany this issue.

Joe Biden’s attempts, ranging from daily entreaties to controversial mandates, have at this point become old news, court cases, or both.

But here is a new one. Physicians offering to run discussion groups at coffee shops to present the efficacy and safety of the vaccines to groups of people who are not even their patients.  Interesting. Will the casual setting and the cup of Starbucks help to seal the deal? 

Bottom Line. Think about this one for a minute. If we have learned anything about the vaccine-hesitant over the last year, it is that simply talking “science” is unlikely to convince them to get their shots. And that’s true whether the people talking science are scientific experts or even their own physicians.  Why would these physicians, well-intentioned though they might be, be more successful using the same approach?

But wait! There actually is a possibility of a good outcome here. Think about it for another minute. Those people who would be willing to show up for such discussions must have at least a modicum of openness to getting vaccinated. AND. In good old “peer influence group” fashion, a skilled moderator might be able to facilitate these people talking each other into getting vaccinated by exploring and overcoming their shared objections. That might work.

As long as these doctors are smart enough not to just “talk science!!!” 

Surgical Concierge

Check this out. Press the Eye On Health SurgiQuality button and watch a fascinating video with an interesting premise. More specifically, the point of the video is that when patients are told that they need surgery, they are “shocked”, “nervous”, “scared” and “they don’t know what questions to ask.” Sounds right. Follow through the video and scroll around the SurgiQuality site, and you will see a service designed to deal with all these issues.  A service that will gather all of the paperwork necessary to approach surgery intelligently, or even to pursue non-surgical options which might be recommended by other clinicians. Case materials will be distributed to multiple providers to determine, if a patient elects to proceed with surgery, the highest quality and most cost-effective provider to employ.

Bottom Line. This approach is a very different one from what usually happens in real life. When a patient is told she needs surgery, the usual response is to proceed with the surgeon who has made the diagnosis, and to assemble as much paperwork as necessary to get the procedure scheduled and paid for. 

Does the SurgiQuality approach appear to be more rational than this? Absolutely! But I have two questions. First, to what extent will patients actually seek out this service rather than simply relying on the surgeon who has made the diagnosis and who has at least the beginnings of a viable patient relationship? Second and perhaps even more importantly, to what extent will surgeons repeatedly review cases, offer opinions and make bids for surgeries that they know that they will most likely not wind up being compensated for in most cases? This “competition,” which is described by SurgiQuality as being healthy, might seem less so to a doctor who is asked repeatedly to spend precious time without the guarantee of remuneration.

This will be an interesting one to watch!

Digital Therapeutics

Check this out. What you will see is the announcement of the launch of the first FDA-approved video game designed for the treatment of ADHD. Being marketed through, you guessed it, digital media. 

Go to their website and watch the trailer

One wonders how many more videogames will come onto the market, FDA approved, requiring an Rx and costing $100 per month, to compete with this initial offering. Or will this be a monopoly? 

Lots of other questions come to mind. What will the receptivity of healthcare practitioners be for this offering in particular, digital therapies in general? Will parents pony up the $100 a month for three months of initial therapy? How effective will the therapy be? Will parents reup after the initial trial? 

Bottom Line. Don’t you just love it when something genuinely new like this comes along? All the new research avenues that one gets to pursue! 

Smart Phones And Clinical Trials

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.19.55 PM Read this article. What you will see is a very smart company that has carved out a niche, and apparently a large niche, by integrating smart phones into clinical trials. They begin with the process shown in their graphic, above. Patients who respond to a call to action by texting are screened and enrolled if qualified. Neat! It gets even better. They are now following up this first phase by using smart phones to keep subjects informed and engaged in the trial once they are enrolled. Patients often fall by the wayside over the course of a protracted clinical trial. Ongoing communications from the Clinical Research Organization (CRO) via smartphone can significantly reduce this expensive attrition. Bottom Line. Clever. This is not just a good use of technology. It is also clever business strategy. The founding entrepreneurs realized that they were not going to be able to sell their services efficiently directly to pharma. Busy decision makers don’t see guys from start-ups. So, they hooked up with CRO’s and sold their services in conjunction with them. Synergy! Win-Win!! All good!!!

“When You Have Cancer, Time Changes”

Cleveland Clinic Having been provided with a guestimate as to when you are going to die, more politely discussed as your life expectancy, changes the way the clock moves. And every tick of the clock is accompanied by shear, unadulterated fear. True for the newly diagnosed, true for the experienced cancer warrior. Kudos to the Cleveland Clinic, that as described here, has specifically designed its new cancer center to help patients deal with time and fear. Bottom Line. You know what I am going to say here. In 2017, the concept of elegance in design, design that is meant to perform rather than to just decorate, is still grossly underrated in health care. This, despite an adequate, if not overwhelmingly large, army of designers that can make this right.  Why?

The Smart Phone As A Tool To Treat Addiction???

iPhone   Take a look at this blog post. Therein, you will see a Psychiatrist with a special interest in addiction make the point that an addict’s iPhone can be part of the problem or part of the solution. To eliminate the problematic part, she explains, the patient must take the (obvious?) step of eliminating any connection with the addiction world from the phone. Yes, having your dealer’s number on speed dial could be a problem! She also reviews a number of “apps” that are available to assist in the addiction recovery process. Actually, the apps that she reviews are for suicide prevention and management of depression, but the tangential relevance to addictions is obvious. Bottom Line. As is demonstrated daily in cities across the U.S., addictions are not easily treated. Can smart phones and apps help? I will admit to being more than a little skeptical here, but I would desperately like to be wrong.  What do you think?

A “Hospital Without Beds”

No bed hospital   Check out this article. In it, you will see the description of a new $54 Million hospital without any beds. You read that right. The facility has been established to serve as the operations base for dealing with tele-medicine patients in new and sophisticated ways. At this “hospital”, 330 staffers work with patients on-line. The goal? Avoiding readmissions to the parent hospital. Bottom Line. Will outbound calls and tele-monitoring accomplish the goals for reduced readmissions and better patient care? I’m betting yes!

Why Would Apple Hire A HIPAA-Wise Attorney???

Apple   Simple. Read this article to discover the different developmental and investment paths that Apple might well be considering in health care that would require such privacy expertise. Bottom Line. Are these different pathways mutually exclusive? Hell no! With all of the noise that the health and wellness capabilities of the Apple Watch have gotten, I would look for bets on several of these fronts. Stay tuned!

Here We Go Again

Apple Health Wearable - Vanderveer blog Remember when the Apple Watch was about to be introduced? There was much discussion about its ability to serve as a medical monitor. Then, that line of reasoning sort of fell out of bed. What we wound up with in terms of a health and fitness device was a FitBit on steroids. Steps, pulse rate, and not much else. BUT. A recent patent filing by Apple indicates that the notion of the Apple Watch serving important health-related purposes is back on again, this time in the form of a wearable that would send an alarm to a pre-identified caregiver if a remarkable “care event” was in the process of happening. Bottom Line. Will things turn out differently this time? I’m thinking maybe. And if not this time then it will be next time. Eventually, the whiz kids in Cupertino will figure out how to get the Apple Watch to do something medically important. What? When? We’ll see!

The Patient As The Hub Of A Social Treatment Network

Tiatros Wow! That’s probably the worst title for a blog post that I have penned in quite some time. Maybe ever! But it was the best I could do to summarize the vision of TIATROS. Go take a look at this company. Watch the video. Ponder what IBM’s Watson will bring to the party when it is used to process the “natural language” that the participants in a treatment “care pod,” including both providers and patients, use to communicate with each other. Bottom Line. You know the question I am going to pose here. How could this kind of technology be used to revolutionize treatment in the chronic treatment areas in which you are most deeply involved?