I’m not sure they really have changed that much, but they certainly have increased. The pandemic pushed the use of telemedicine visits into the stratosphere, and while it has reverted somewhat, we are still seeing usage and awareness at levels on the order of 30x what they were pre-pandemic. This is a good thing, but the limitations of telemedicine visits without the ability to collect meaningful, real-time vitals haven’t moved much yet. We are seeing more and more forays into Hospital at Home Solutions that are showing a lot of promise.
What is the current state of the at-home health devices and services market, in each of the verticals you serve?
Connected Health has the potential to serve many more verticals than just at-home health, but universally there is an urgent need to deploy a common platform to bring all of this disparate technology together so that the data can be analyzed, and intelligent treatment protocols deployed with the most information possible. From simple connected devices like smartwatches to RPM devices to real-time remote examination devices like MedWand, the technology is out there, but it still needs to be stitched together so that we can realize the true potential of connected health.
Has demand for more preventative and predictive approaches to care changed? Or is the market for this more or less the same as it was a few years ago?
The cost of healthcare, failing hospitals, staffing shortages, and the projected lack of healthcare professionals for the foreseeable future, complicated further by the aging population, are creating more demand. Available technology, particularly AI is showing great promise in this space. With the right data and an integrated platform AI can detect all kinds of anomalies and predict the early onset of multiple conditions and co-morbidities.
Delivering care at home is of course a pretty different model compared to what we’ve done in the past. What are some of the challenges that come with delivering care at home?
Actually, we did deliver care at home in the past, it was called a “House Call.” The promise of connected health is to now deliver the 21st-century house call, connecting healthcare providers with patients remotely while enabling them to share real-time, meaningful vitals information to make informed decisions in the direction of the care continuum. The number one challenge is to standardize the exchange of information, sensor data, and platforms to host AI engines and data exchange between the patient, doctor, and EHR systems.
New sensors and new computing paradigms – 5G, edge computing, AI - are enabling new types of services to be deployed into consumers’ homes. For example, audio and video analytics for medical use cases, wireless fall detection while in the home, etc. Can you talk a about the new features that define the innovate edge of connected health devices? What technologies do you think will have the biggest near-term impact on connected health applications in the home?
Once we start to consolidate the platforms into a single pipeline of information, continuity of care can become a reality. Imagine a telehealth terminal in every household that enables meaningful remote access to all kinds of care modalities from simple wellness checks to hospital at home. Services can be easily expanded to accommodate new and different treatments and monitoring options to facilitate everything from aging in place to post-acute care.
What have you learned about the user experience side of telehealth? Both on the patient and provider side. How have you changed your approach, services, processes, or training based on feedback?
Part of the requirements from FDA for 510(k) clearance of MedWand involved extensive human factors testing around both the device and our supporting software. We learned so much from multiple rounds of testing that included multiple demographic profiles. Each round caused iteration and improvement of the various interfaces and control tools for the system. This is so important for remote devices. If the patient can’t use it, it becomes useless. We made sure the provider could see and in many cases control the patient experience real-time, and we provided as much information as possible to both sides via multi-media interaction.
What is the most valuable contribution wearables can make to the health space?
There are different types of wearables, and they all have a place in the connected care continuum. In their simplest form, products like smart watches give the user a general picture of their overall health. Steps, heart rate, and some of the other data returned by these sensors are a great place to start. Then there are wearables for continuous remote patient monitoring, usually tied to an app. An example of this would be a glucometer patch. RPM devices are helpful because they can alert us when something goes above or below pre-determined control limits. But what then? That’s pretty much the limit of RPM devices and wearables. Their most effective role is to let us know it’s time for a higher level of intervention. This next level is the launch of a real-time remote exam by a qualified healthcare professional with a device like a MedWand that can give the HCP a comprehensive look at the overall health and condition of the patient. Used together, these devices can provide an escalating pathway to stay on top of a patient’s overall health or existing condition.