Monthly Archive for January, 2011

Personal Healthcare Products: This is what the future looks like.

I’m jealous of companies that get to produce diagnostic medical devices without having to go through the FDA 510(k) process. For example, the iHealth BP3 blood pressure monitor is a high-tech looking device with a  free Apple application:

Hopefully they’re using an approved non-invasive blood pressure (NIBP) device like the SunTech module.

The built-in ability to e-mail results to family or a physician seems useful, but posting your blood pressure on Facebook or Twitter?  I don’t know…

Hat Tip: medGadget

Medical Devices and the Cloud

The article Is Cloud the tomorrow of Medical Devices Industry? includes some of the challenges — regulatory, privacy, security etc. — faced by manufacturers trying to manage medical device data in the cloud. You can’t disagree with this statement:

The success of the vision of Smart Connected Health Grid is dependent on wide scale adoption of cloud computing in all areas of healthcare.

There’s no doubt that adoption of cloud-based technologies are starting to provide concrete market opportunities in the Healthcare space.

There are also two major market barriers that will have to addressed in order for the cloud’s full potential to be realized:

1. Who’s going to pay for it?

  • The Apple/Google/Facebook “created a marketplace around the end consumer” model will not work in the medical industry.  Consumers do not manage their own healthcare, and certainly not their medical data.
  • Glucose monitoring is also not a good model. Strips and meters are reimbursed by Medicare and most private insurers.
  • The “Service Delivery Platform” may be a great idea, but unless you can prove its effectiveness at saving money in the overall healthcare delivery system it has only limited value.
  • Proving this effectiveness is difficult to do, and the bar is very high on the expected returns for preventative care.  Maybe this is where the vertically integrated Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) could have an impact?
  • The end consumer (re: their willingness to spend money anyway) is not likely to be part of the revenue generation equation.

2. Interoperability.

  • You can’t overstate connected in “Connected Health Grid.”  This is where the real value is.
  • Data collected from a medical device must be put into context with all of the available health data in order to properly access a patient’s current state.
  • This means you have to make the device data that resides in your cloud available to be consumed by others, e.g. payers, PHRs, hospital EMR systems, etc.  Each of these interfaces is unique and costly. HIPAA is also key barrier here.
  • There are many technical issues surrounding medical device connectivity. I’ve written frequently about these interoperability topics in the past.

The potential is there, but IMO creating a value proposition that will result in a sustainable market based on a technology alone will probably not work. It’s the old “hammer looking for a nail” problem.

Medical device data combined with cloud-based technology will be part of many effective healthcare solutions. Some of these may actually make money, someday.

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