Healthcare and the Internet of Things
As part of our NSF-funded project on trustworthy healthcare IT, we recently hosted a workshop focused on mHealth. Certainly the internet of things is creating new opportunities for delivering care. For example, I recently finished a case study on a San Diego-based start-up, Sotera, that has developed a wireless harness that enables continuous, non-invasive monitoring of a host of critical vital signs. Such monitoring can reduce patient length of stay, improve patient safety, increase intensive care throughput, and reduce the frequency of uncompensated events like bed sores and pressure ulcers. But even with significant technology innovations, firms like Sotera face staggering challenges creating successful business models. The U.S. healthcare system, with decades of entrenched interests and arcane billing rules, is a hostile ecosystem for new ventures. At our workshop, I moderated a fascinating panel that addressed these challenges in mHealth.
The panelists represented a cross-section of healthcare players from large EHR software firms to healthcare providers:
Paul Gorup, Chief Innovation Officer, Cerner
Joseph Ternullo, Associate Director, Center for Connected Health at Partners HealthCare
Cameron McKennitt, President and COO of PolyRemedy
Chuck Parker, Executive Director, Continua Health Alliance
Besides exploring business models, the panelists discussed who would most benefit from advances in mHealth – patients, traditional healthcare providers, device manufacturers, new service providers, or existing EHR players. While there was wide agreement that patients would benefit, there was vigorous debate over which industry players would be winners. Of course the root of that debate – payment models – is the same for new and old players.
After the panel was over, Paul Gorup, Chief Innovation Officer of Cerner stepped into the studio to discuss start-ups like Sotera and how Cerner views the opportunities. He highlighted the potential value of continuously-collected high-quality patient data. Such data will create a whole industry of health services that monitor, alert, diagnosis, and treat patients – without ever bringing people into physical clinics or hospitals.
While Gorup was bullish on the opportunities for mHealth to improve care and bend the cost curve, he noted that new payment models, like accountable care organizations (ACOs), would be needed to drive innovation beyond traditional acute-care settings. You can see a video of the entire business-model panel here: