Category: Innovation Management

I’m Not Sure!!! The Apple Watch

Apple Watch That’s true about a lot of things, but in this case I am referring to my uncertainty following a review of this piece covering the recent Apple Developers Conference. Had you watched the 2-hour video, you would have seen 10 minutes covering a fascinating spectrum of healthcare applications for the Apple Watch. At one end of the spectrum, I understand the use of the Watch as a fitness device, but continue to ponder whether it really does a better job of motivating us to move than the FitBit does. At the other end of the spectrum, the presentation described using the Apple Watch to monitor significant parameters such as fetal heart rate. The Apple Watch seems to do a credible job at some of these tasks as well, but as with fitness monitoring, I wonder what it is actually bringing to the party that cannot be accomplished with existing technology Bottom Line. There is little doubt that reliance on “wearables” will one day become commonplace in health care. How steep the adoption curve will be, however, remains an interesting and important topic for conjecture.

Statistical Practice. I Like It!

Boston University Go check out this BU course on Statistical Practice. Good stuff. Here’s an excerpt: Who is it for? The Master’s in Statistical Practice program is for anyone who wants to get fundamental training in statistics and how it’s applied to real-world problems in fields spanning a wide range of industries. It’s geared toward students who may not have had extensive quantitative training as undergraduates and want to build their skills quickly, with a focus on hands-on experience. Bottom Line. I believe that we are going to see a lot more of this. Rather than semester after semester of statistical “theory” classes I suffered through in graduate school, BU is focusing in on quick immersion time and practical application. I bet they get a lot of takers. And I would also wager that we will see numerous programs in other fields spring up that are both efficient and practical. Question. Do we still really have time for four-year “liberal arts” programs anymore?  

The Demand for Wearables

wearables chart Go to this story in mobihealthnews to see an interesting pattern, but not a surprising one. Purchases of such single use wearables as FitBit peaked around Christmas last year, and then plummeted. At less than $100, items like FitBit made far more attractive holiday gifts than did the newly introduced smart watches. And the Apple Watch hadn’t even started to ship. BUT. As multifunction smart watches began to become more commonplace, the need for wearables that only count steps headed south. While understanding the marketing forces at work here, I wonder what the impact of this will be on health outcomes. I have previously lauded FitBit for the easy-to-use system that integrates a digital pedometer, a digital scale and a food diary database. Sure, the Apple Watch will capture your steps, but that function is buried among myriad others, and doesn’t leave your progress toward a 10,000 step day staring you in the face 24/7. And there is no food diary or digital scale to track inputs and outcomes easily. Bottom Line. While it may be difficult to peddle a $100 single function wearable when you can get the Apple Sport for $349, the motivational edge of the simpler system might well get lost in the shuffle. You have to watch (pun intended!) out for such unintended consequences. BTW, although I have an Apple Watch and wear it regularly, I still rely on my FitBit to keep track of my activity level. Sometimes “single purpose” isn’t such a bad idea if a device serves that single purpose extremely well!

Listen To Him, Read His Article, Or Both!

Dr. David Asch I would do both. He’s worth it. More specifically, he is Dr. David Asch, with the enviable job of spearheading innovative medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Go here. Take your choice of audio interview or reading narrative. Either way, what you will find are Asch’s four methodological suggestions for avoiding spending large numbers of dollars developing technology that doesn’t work and/or that nobody wants. Things like “vapor tests,” which offer for sale products that don’t exist for the sole reason of determining what the uptake would be if they did. Asch admits that there are ethical problems with jerking people around like this, but opines that doing so is OK as long as it is done judiciously. Bottom Line. LOTS of $ has been wasted on the “build it and they will come” approach to technology development. Dr. Asch provides a quartet of ways to avoid succumbing to this folly. Store this article someplace where you will be able to find it quickly if your boss, your client, etc. comes to you with some great new technology requiring significant developmental investment. Trust me. Dr. Asch’s methodologies will make you look like a hero!

Politically Correct Disease Names

disease Stifle your initial chuckle. This actually makes some sense. Read this article. You will discover that the WHO has just published new rules that help to ensure that newly discovered diseases are not given names that offend or confuse. No more “German Measles,” “Swine Flu,” etc. Bottom Line. Another one of those ideas that while we wouldn’t have come up with it ourselves, sounds flat out correct when you hear about it.  

Market Segmentation At Its Best

iPad I get it. Senior citizens in the U.S. are not big users of apps, social media, etc. Seems that this situation is pretty much the same in Japan as well. That’s sort of too bad, because people at the senior citizen stage of life have a special need to be connected for reasons both practical and psychological. Check this out. The privatized Japanese version of the Post Office, Apple, and IBM are collaborating to provide an integrated hardware (iPad) and software package that will meet the linkage needs of senior citizens. Connecting them with needed services. Connecting them with each other. Bottom Line. Think about this one. Up until now, a tool like the iPad came out of the box as a blank canvas on which the owner is free to use a palette of apps to develop a picture suited to their specific needs. Infinite flexibility. BUT. The art of doing all of that customization requires a skill set that many market segments, e.g. senior citizens, are lacking. I’m thinking it is a great idea to develop suites of apps appropriate for particular market segments, and to market those suites as bundled packages. For what other market segments might this approach be especially useful?

Levels of Telemedicine

LEVEL UP! Ernst and Young has recently published a “model” that hospitals and others involved in telemedicine can use to understand the typical technology adoption curve and where they and others stand on it. Bottom Line. Perfect? Probably not, but at least it provides a framework that permits us to benchmark telemedicine progress.

A Different Take On “Disruptive Innovation”

James Dean Disruptive Innovation has become the refuge of the destitute for areas of endeavor, e.g. American politics, where mounting evidence supports the idea that things are so badly broken that simple repairs won’t suffice. BUT. In this blog post, you will see a Psychiatrist set forth the notion that pioneers, in their enthusiasm, often minimize the risk of their innovations. For example, telemedicine is gaining significant traction, but at what cost? A biological basis for Psychiatry seems at first glance to be a welcome reprieve from Psychoanalysis, but what are the risks of mental health focusing entirely on drugs? Etc.!!! Bottom Line. Anyone who challenges Disruptive Innovation runs the risk of appearing to be a Luddite. Nonetheless, the notion that someone has to “parent” technology rebels has a truthful ring.


Suneel Dhand MD In recent blogs, I talked about the increased use of virtual medicine services provided by chain pharmacies and an interactive service that supports surgical patients before and after their operations. BUT. A recent post by “Doctor and Author” Suneel Dhand opines that we need less virtual medicine, not more. Why? Simple! It is, virtually by definition, impossible for a patient to develop a relationship with a virtual doc. And vice versa. That’s problematic with PCP’s, since the important idea of partnering between doctor and patient in the patient’s best interest clearly gets left by the wayside with virtual medicine. And, for surgeons? Folk wisdom maintains that a good relationship between surgeon and patient is key in avoiding malpractice suits if something goes wrong. What happens when an interactive digital service is used as an interface between these parties? I can see such technology improving the relationship, or making it worse. Bottom Line. Today’s homework assignment? Ponder the physician – patient relationship. What does it bring to the healthcare party, and how can digital tools be used to enhance this bond rather than bugger it up?

A Beautiful Mind

Dr. Nash You all know that Dr. John Nash died a few days ago. If you are still short on an understanding of what he contributed to the world of applied mathematics, read this NYT article. I’m not a big movie guy, so I had never seen the Russell Crowe movie about Dr. Nash that won an Oscar for best picture but inexplicably left him without one for Best Actor. I corrected my shortfall last night, thanks to the wonders of Apple TV. It’s an amazing movie. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again! Bottom Line. Nash’s major contribution was not some impenetrable mathematical equation, but rather a restating of how things work. He wasn’t looking to tinker, but rather searching for the big idea. The result was a worldview that has impacted strategies of negotiation in key areas of finance and international relations. He found his big idea, schizophrenia not withstanding. Can we?