Category: Technology

Trouble Online

Check this out. What you will see will not shock you in terms of substance. Sure, hacking can be done. No surprise there. 

BUT. This piece may surprise you in terms of the order of magnitude of the problems encountered with patient data platforms. One login permits access to 4 million patient records. Cybercriminals scoring $21B with ransomware in 2020. Etc.

Bottom Line. Hidden between the lines here seems to be an interesting, if not surprising, piece of information. The more standardization and interoperability that gets built into systems, the more they are vulnerable to being hacked. Which is unfortunate since standardization is generally seen as a good thing in platform development.

Another realization underscored here is that the more companies yield to patient demand to have access to their own data, the more vulnerable patient information becomes to security breaches.  Translated, if a platform is set up to make it easy for patients to use, it’s likely going to be easy for hackers to use as well. 

AND. Wrapped around all of this is the message that this situation is likely to keep getting worse in the foreseeable future unless somebody wearing a white hat has an epiphany on how cybersecurity related to healthcare records really needs to be handled.

Fingers crossed!

Telehealth Use Up, Patient Satisfaction Down!!!

Check this out. What you will see is common sense as it applies to telehealth. Quite simply, the pandemic hastened the proliferation of telehealth platforms and of physicians ready, willing and able to use them. The fact that third-party payers, in many cases for the first time, compensated doctors for telehealth visits was a significant driving factor here. Just so, patients seeking safety and convenience stood ready to try telehealth visits during the pandemic.

BUT. Challenges in actually using the telehealth technology reduced patient satisfaction, as did confusion about treatment costs and lack of a “provider details.” Also, rather common sensical is the fact that telehealth is seen as being more satisfactory by the relatively well than by those in poorer health, who are looking for more support from their physician interactions. 

Bottom Line. All of these J.D. Power findings line up rather nicely with the results of my On Doctors’ MindsSM conversations, wherein doctors are telling me month after month that it is the less complicated, follow up patients, and those demanding special handling in terms of safety and convenience, who are now the only ones getting serviced through telehealth platforms. Especially for specialists, the loss of direct physical examination and patient relationship management inherent in telehealth visits causes most doctors to far prefer in-office patient visits. 

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!

$$$YUP$$$

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

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!