Category: Technology

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! 

The Best Apps For Physicians???

Check this out.  What you will see is a list that purports to hold forth some of the best apps available for doctors. Don’t spend a lot of time looking at this. You will just get a headache. As I did a quick review of this list, a couple of things occurred to me. They include:

  • Many of these apps seem like they would make better books than apps. I can’t quite get in touch with learning to treat Heart Failure by looking at my iPhone.
  • I also cannot quite picture being able to find a requisite app on the phone of the average doctor. If she starts to populate her smart phone with an app for every medical purpose, the cafeteria of choices would rapidly become rather unwieldy.

This article got me to thinking. What role(s) should apps play in the hands of medical professionals? I’m thinking that apps for HCP’s should put information into their hands, and maybe computational abilities, that they need to access quickly. And frequently. Does the average doctor need an app that helps him to interpret x-rays? I am going with nope! How about one that teaches her how to help patients to quit smoking? Sorry, but nope again!

Bottom Line. If such a plethora of “apps for doctors” gets built, my guess is that most physicians will start to tune out on the whole genre. Perhaps we should cut this tidal wave off at the pass?

Perhaps it is already too late!

Tapping Into Online Medical Advice

I haven’t looked at WIRED in years. While the Internet was coming into our world, and I needed to get an advanced look at how it might impact our world, I read it regularly. I even subscribed, amusingly enough, to the hard copy version. That was then and now is now. BUT. This insightful article just came across my transom. Its message? Obtaining reliable medical advice on the Internet is harder than just pressing the keys to do a Google search! Lots of reasons, the most telling of which is the cyber sophistication of special interest groups who might want to put a special “spin” on the information you receive. In fact, the glop that they throw at you might not even be related to the topic you inquired about. Type in a lot of different search words, and you get stuff thrown at you by “Vaxers.” Note that people in these special interest groups often work very hard at getting their material to you, spending the money to do key word optimization to assist in their efforts. AND. Normal people, e.g. medical experts, never expect this kind of attack so they don’t bother to produce “counter content.” Bottom Line. What percentage of the general population do you think are aware of these shenanigans? I’m guessing it’s not very high. Do we have a communications role to serve here?

Healthcare, Security Breaches and Trust

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 6.43.05 PM To get a better understanding of how consumers are viewing the risk of breaches in data systems maintained by healthcare providers, read this white paper. What you will see is a synopsis of a consumer survey conducted by Accenture. Short and sweet. Findings include the fact that consumers are well aware of the risk of potential breaches in healthcare data and take them very seriously. Various levels of trust in system security were not surprisingly found. Consumers trust their doctors to maintain the security of their data, but understandably are skeptical of the Government’s ability to do so. Hospitals are reportedly perceived as being at risk for data breaches, causing patients real concern and adding to the vulnerability experienced by hospitalized patients. In many cases, patients whose data was compromised discovered the breach themselves, while in a somewhat smaller percentage of cases, they were notified by the entity that was breached. Bottom Line. Here’s the most important finding of the survey. A significant percentage, although still a minority, of consumers are doing something about breaches that they experience. Changes were made in healthcare providers or insurers after a breach by about a quarter of patients. I am guessing a couple of things are likely to happen here in the near future. First, holders of healthcare data will increasingly heed Accenture’s call for beefing up their cybersecurity systems. Second, data breaches will become increasingly salient, with cyber-safety increasingly becoming a selection criterion for healthcare consumers to use in selecting providers, hospitals, insurance carriers, etc.

And These Three Guys Are Who???

Sweetcoin They are the founders of “Sweatcoin,” a new app (one of several) that lets you trade in steps recorded on the app for products. Bottom Line. While some people may in fact find these apps to be motivating(?), I still wrestle mightily with the notion of providing extrinsic rewards to people who take care of their health. You may remember my previous rants on this topic, which have consistently maintained that such shenanigans teach people that their health has no intrinsic value, and that therefore doing healthful things is work for which one should be compensated.  Bitwalking, another of the apps, maintains that it is “a new way to participate in the world.” Wow!!!  In my opinion, this is silly, dysfunctional and not likely to work in the long run. I am betting I will not be proven wrong!


Gartner You could sort of see this one coming. A recent Gartner study, that tapped into 10,000 survey respondents, found that wearables are seen by many as being too expensive for the limited functionality that they provide. Thus, it is not surprising that sales of wearables, from Apple Watches to fitness trackers, were disappointing to their manufacturers in 2016. A brief reminder of how new product category introductions work. Especially with bright shiny new technologies like wearables, initial product uptake is driven by early adopters. Here’s the kicker. These shoppers are driven by a desire to try out something new, and are not constrained by practicalities like usefulness or cost. For most shoppers, on the other hand, products, and especially high priced products, must demonstrate bang for the buck in order to get purchased in large numbers. Clearly, that is not what is happening here. Of more specific interest to us, the health and wellness functionality that was supposed to be so compelling for the wearables has largely turned out to be a non-starter. While lunatics like me still wear our FitBits or Garmin equivalents, most people are less than fascinated by tracking their heart rates, breathing rhythms, sleep patterns, etc. on an ongoing basis. Bottom Line. The learnings of all this? Once again, the lure of the latest bright, shiny things has failed to convert into anything sustainable on a wide scale. Will this change?  The results of the Gartner study, supported by common sense, indicate that either functionality will need to go way up, or cost way down, for wearables to deliver on their healthcare promise.  Stay tuned!


bricking I am sure that I am the last person on earth to learn the term “bricking.” You know, when a high tech device becomes non-functional. It becomes, well, a brick. In this case, you see that a device that recorded metrics related to a patient’s health, which could then be transferred through a smart phone to the patient’s doctor, is about to become a brick as the company that manufactures it is about to turn off the network that supports it. Whoops! Bottom Line. Call them bricks, paperweights, doorstops or whatever, expect a growing number of the gazillion healthcare gadgets currently flooding the market to become useless as their support structures disappear. There are going to be a lot of upset consumers out there. How to avoid becoming one? Have second thoughts about buying such a device that has been crowd-sourced, or that otherwise has sketchy financial backing!

Again With Google Glass???

9 to 5 Google As a goof that bought one of the initial models of Google Glass, I viewed the announcement of an upcoming “enterprise” edition of GG with some skepticism. Lo and behold, the foreseen healthcare uses for the next edition are exactly the same as those that originally enticed me to test fly the original model. Lenses that would let ER doctors cast their eyes on what first responders are seeing in the field. A view of a surgical field broadcast from the head of the physician performing the operation. Etc. Bottom Line. Will the practical fixes incorporated into the V2.0 make the next GG more of a success and less of an Edsel? Time will tell. All I know for sure at this point is that this time, I will watch quietly from the sidelines. I don’t need another “toy” sitting on the shelf next to my original GG!

New Developments In Healthcare Gamification

ayogo Keep your eyes on Ayogo. This company is taking a very thoughtful, sophisticated approach to healthcare gamification. The app shown above, for example, is designed to assist patients, who are candidates for bariatric surgery, in setting reasonable expectations for their new bodies. Read an article that describes this work. Bottom Line. Healthcare gamification can be done right. Or Wrong! I think these guys are on to something.