Entries in Data & Technology (63)

Friday
Jul282017

Health Care's Kodak Moment

by Kim Bellard, July 26, 2017

For those of us of a certain age, a "Kodak moment" connotes a special event that should be captured by a photo.  For younger generations, the term probably doesn't mean anything, because they don't know what Kodak is.  That's why, for some, "Kodak moment" has come to suggest a turning point when big companies and even entire industries can become obsolete. 

Health care could soon be at such a point.

Anthony Jenkins, a former CEO of Barclay's, recently warned that banks could face a Kodak moment soon.  He said they're already seeing a "Uber-moment," where smartphones and contractless cards are transforming the industry.  "The Kodak moment is completely different," Mr. Jenkins explained.  "That’s where customers realize there’s a totally better and different way of doing what they want to do, and the incumbent becomes obsolete."

In a separate speech, Mr. Jenkins elaborated that, due to new technologies, "we can imagine total transformation of the banking system."  He predicted banks have 5 to 15 years to face these challenges, or become irrelevant to their customers.

The "good" news, he added, is that: "Banks can avoid that, but they have to act now, and what they really need to do is think about innovation, but also transformation, doing something radically different."

For "bank" or "banking system" feel free to substitute "doctor/hospital" or "health care system"

Incumbents all-too-often grow protective and/or fail to take advantage of new opportunities.  The irony of disruption, Mr. Jenkins noted, is that it is "actually a great growth opportunity," and that "incumbents are best positioned to seize disruptive opportunities."  

Health care has a number of legacy problems that make it ripe for disruption.  Innovators look at these problems and see opportunities.

The opportunities -- or, threats, depending on one's point-of-view -- on health care's horizon are numerous.  They include:

  • Digital health makes real-time information and communication feasible, such as with wearables and telehealth.
  • Big Data will help us finally understand what is happening with patients and predict with better accuracy how we can manage our health.
  • Robots will take over health care tasks/jobs that humans either don't want to do or lack the required precision to do.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) will be able to make sense of all that Big Data and all the various research studies, and can serve to either augment or, at least in some cases, replace physicians.
  • 3D printing will allow us to replace an ever-increasing number of body parts, even systems, and do so with unprecedented speed and affordable cost.
  • Nanotechnology will allow us to monitor and maintain us down to a cellular level.

Meanwhile, traditional health care companies -- from providers to middlemen to manufacturers to insurers -- are waiting with some trepidation to see what 21st century behemoths like Amazon or Apple are going to do in their space.  

Disruption might come from innovators within the health care industry, but it might also come from unexpected sources -- and in unexpected ways.  Kodak didn't take digital photography seriously enough, and it certainly wasn't expecting smartphones as the new camera.  

Health should have a number of the old-fashioned Kodak moments -- the birth of a child, a miraculous recovery, achievement of a health goal, and so on.  Whether health care organizations or even the entire health care system suffer the other kind of Kodak moment depends on how (and when) they respond to the disruptive opportunities now available to them.  

Wednesday
May242017

Rise of the Drones

By Kim Bellard, May 24, 2017

For those of us of a certain age, we expected to be living in a Jetsons-type world, complete with flying cars.  That hasn't happened, but it is starting to appear as though the skies may, indeed, soon be full of flying vehicles.  It's just that they may not have people in them. 

Welcome to the brave new world of drones.

Many people may have viewed drones as a toy akin to radio-controlled airplanes. We're beyond that now.  Last summer PwC asked "Are commercial drones ready for take-off?"  They thought so, estimating the total available market for drone-enabled services at $127b

This is not going to all be about getting your books, or your socks, or even your new HD television faster.  It is going to impact many industries -- including health care.

And that impact has already started to happen.

Zipline International, for example, is already delivering medical supplies by drone in Rwanda.  They deliver directly to isolated clinics despite any intervening "challenging terrain and gaps in infrastructure."  They plan to limit themselves to medical supplies, but not only in developing countries; they see rural areas in the U.S. as potential opportunities as well.  Last fall they raised $25 million in Series B funding.  

Drones are also being considered for medical supply delivery in Guyana, Haiti, and the Philippines.   

And drone delivery is already being tested in more urban areas.  The Verge reported that Swiss Post, its national postal service, is working with two hospitals in Lugano to ferry lab samples between them. 

Similarly, Johns Hopkins has been testing drone transport of blood supplies, concluding that it is "an effective, safe, and timely way to get blood products to remote accident or natural catastrophe sites, or other time-sensitive destinations."

Airbus is developing the A-180 drone specifically to deliver medical supplies, especially for emergencies.  Its cargo capsule is "capable of transporting everything from medicine and antivenin to supplemental blood and even organs." A company called Otherlab is going a different direction.  Wired reports that their drone will deliver its package -- then decompose, making it ideal for deliveries to humanitarian crises (or to battle sites, since Darpa helped fund them).  

Lest we focus too narrowly on the concept of drones delivering medical supplies, argodesign has proposed a flying ambulance, which could be operated as a drone or by a pilot.  If you've ever seen ambulances stuck in traffic and felt sorry for the patients relying on them, such ambulances could be the solution -- arriving faster and to locations regular ambulances could not reach.  

But for real impact, let's go back to Amazon.  CNBC's Christina Farr broke the news last week that Amazon was considering getting into the pharmacy business. Put rapid delivery -- especially with drones -- together with lower and more transparent prices, and it is no wonder that the stocks of CVS and Walgreens took a hit when the news broke about Amazon's new interest.

Health care has been all-too-much a story of waiting.  That's quickly changing, with telemedicine, WebMD, retail clinics, and -- soon -- 3D printing and health care robots.  We can add health care drones to the list, allowing 30-minutes-or-less kinds of promises that we haven't even begun to tease out yet.

Bring on the drones!

This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting

 

Thursday
Mar092017

Inaccurate Provider Directories Have a Direct Impact on Patients

By Claire Thayer, March 8, 2017

Provider directories are important tool for consumer engagement with health plans and provider networks. And in many instances, the provider directory is the vehicle for the patients’ first impressions of providers and the network they represent.  The consequences of directory inaccuracies create barriers to care as well as impact patient satisfaction. And while state and regulatory agencies are imposing stiff fines for non-compliance, a new report from the California Department of Managed Care finds that most insurers still have a ways to go in this regard as many have directories that contained “data inaccuracies significant enough to render them unusable.”

A recent special edition of the MCOL Infographic, co-sponsored by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, highlights the impact of directory inaccuracies on patients:

 

 

 

MCOL’s weekly infoGraphoid is a benefit for MCOL Basic members and released each Wednesday as part of the MCOL Daily Factoid e-newsletter distribution service – find out more here.

Thursday
Mar022017

How Health Plans Impact Revenue Performance and Improve Quality Outcomes

By Claire Thayer, March 2, 2017

The Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures developed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) are now used by over 90% of health plans to measure quality performance.  HEDIS consists of 81 measures across 5 domains of care and address a broad range of important health issues, including:     

  • Asthma Medication Use
  • Persistence of Beta-Blocker Treatment after a Heart Attack
  • Controlling High Blood Pressure
  • Comprehensive Diabetes Care
  • Breast Cancer Screening
  • Antidepressant Medication Management
  • Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Status
  • Childhood and Adult Weight/BMI Assessment

Many health plans report HEDIS data to employers or use their results to make improvements in their quality of care and service.  Each year, NCQA publishes The State of Health Care Quality Report to raise awareness on key quality issues and drive improvement in the delivery of evidence-based medicine. This report documents performance trends over time, tracks variation in care and recommends quality improvements.  Additionally, HEDIS data is also incorporated into many health plan ‘report cards’ and increasingly used by consumers and purchasers to track and compare health plan performance.

This week, a special edition of the MCOL Infographic, co-sponsored by DST Health Solutions, focused on strategic trends and key elements of performance improvement for health plans: 

 

 

 

MCOL’s weekly infoGraphoid is a benefit for MCOL Basic members and released each Wednesday as part of the MCOL Daily Factoid e-newsletter distribution service – find out more here.

Wednesday
Feb222017

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Health Care

By Kim Bellard, February 22, 2017

 

I hate being a patient.

 

My exposure to the health care system has mostly been through my professional life or through the experiences of friends and family.  The last few days, though, I unexpectedly had an up-close-and-personal experience as a hospital inpatient.

I offer what I consider the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the experience.

The Good:  The People
The various people involved in my care, from the most highly trained physician to the person who delivered meals, were great. I loved my nurses.  I liked my doctors a lot.  The aides, the lab techs, the imaging tech, the transportation specialists -- all of them doing jobs that I wouldn't be able to do -- were each friendly and helpful, taking pride in what they did and how it helped my care. 

The Bad: The Processes
On the other hand, on the lists of criticisms about our health care system, many of its rules and processes truly do deserve a place.  They're like part of an arcane game no one really understands. 

I'll offer three examples:

 

  • ·         Check-in
  • ·         NPO
  • ·         Discharge

 

The Ugly: The Technology

Oh, health care technology.  It is equally capable of delighting as it is of frustrating.  It is truly remarkable that the doctor could go up my arm to perform a procedure in my chest, just as the detail an MRI provides is simply astonishing.  

 

Let's start with the perennial whipping boy, EHRs.  On many occasions, EHRs did not mean that people did not still often have to drag in other electronic equipment or even paper in order for them to do their job.

 

MRIs are a wonderful technology, but as I was laying in that claustrophobic tube getting imaged, I kept thinking: what the heck are all those clanging noises?  

 

I was on various forms of monitoring devices, the smallest of which was the size of a 1980's cell phone and still required countless wires attached to numerous leads.  I kept wondering, hmm, have these people heard of Bluetooth?  Do they know about wearables?

 

My favorite example of ugly technology, though, came when I had to fill out a form, so that it could be faxed to the appropriate department.  

 

No health care system is perfect.  Every system has its own version of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Our system can do better.  Let's give all those great people working in health care a better chance to help us.


This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting