Tag Archives: consumer

An App Here, An App There….


Do you use health apps in your everyday life? Who directed you to the apps you use? Your doctor? Friend? Co-worker? Well, if you got yours from the App Store or Google Play then you are in the majority. That wasn’t the case 5 years ago:

This marks a shift from the firm’s 2010 survey, when more than 65 percent of healthcare practitioners said they’d be the ones to recommend mHealth apps to their patients. Five years later, that percentage has dropped to 48 percent of physicians and 46 percent of hospitals. (link to article)

Back in the late 2000s the apps were mostly driven by the health providers such as physician practices and hospitals. They were also many that were related to specific disease states or information that was gathered from the patient at the specific hospital or physician practice. Now we are seeing a trend, one that has been growing for a couple of years, of apps targeted toward exercise and diet. You may have a Fitbit or an Apple Watch, use My Fitness Pal or other apps to track what you do, what you eat, what your pulse is and how long you exercised.

But a lot of the apps fail to satisfy the users need. They may be too complicated to use, take more effort to input information or just simply don’t do what the app advertises. For instance, I have a Fitbit and originally wanted it to track my sleep. But it is not consistent so I just can’t rely on the information. A lot of the apps that you might have on your phone, iPad or such you have to either read the label and input the information about that chocolate chip cookie or glass of almond milk that you just consumed. Some are sophisticated enough to scan the barcode of the product and take the information from there into the app.

So what has your experience been with apps for your health? Did you healthcare provider point you to helpful ones? Do you use apps that are specific to your disease state – as in the case of diabetic monitors? Or have you just seen others using these apps on Facebook and thought that might work for you?

Tell me about it!


What’s in store for mHealth?


From the 2014 mHealth Summit they had 4 “take-aways” – all four were ones that we have heard before and ones that we should be listening to.

I’ll start with the easy one, in my opinion – (and their #1 on the list) – Consumer Engagement is the buzzword. I’ve been talking about this one off and on for a while. We are a culture that is becoming more informed. We have access to health information much more easily than those who have come before us. Google, WebMD, and just about any health related organization, such as providers and support sites. For me, personally, I am paying attention to more on the Breast Cancer site than before because my mom is fighting breast cancer. And we’ve talked before about access to your own health information and how we all want to see what our health record looks like and find out what did the doctor realllly say in my last visit with him/her?

The next one, in my numbering system, is that Apple’s HealthKit could be a game changer. I’m still waiting on this one. It could be the game changer – I hope it is the game changer. Basically, it could connect all those wonderful health apps to the Apple Health and keep all the nifty data there for us.

Well, that brings me to my favorite of the 4 – data analysis! Now, I hope I don’t lose my non-nerd friends on this one (as my kiddos would say). I am blessed to have just started a job with a company that provides data analytics to health providers. And, let me say, WOW, I am excited! This is the meat of it all! We have sooooooooo much information on our health, health standards, metrics for health measurement and just oodles and bunches of good stuff that can help us monitor our health as individuals and as communities! We are capturing data in mobile devices, devices worn on the body, devices used in the practice of health care, electronic health records and even in the data that our insurance company holds on us – well, except Anthem – they can’t seem to hold onto our information…. (sarcasm). This is great stuff. It is time we put it to good use!

And that leads to the last of the 4 – Care Coordination works! – Why, yes, Sherlock, it does. If my care providers know what is going on with me, my labs, my meds and my tests then I get better care – or I should expect better care. More effective care. If I make sure that my nutritionist knows that my iron levels came in low on my last blood tests that my general practitioner ordered then I get better guidance on my diet. You can see where I am going here…

So – what do you see in store for mHealth in 2015?


How well will wearables and mHealth apps work with the individual?


Just read an article which discussed the challenges that wearables, or the wearable vendors, face in actually helping the individual. Though very interesting on the discussion I am not sure I completely agree with the expert that the author interviewed. Part of me wonders if the expert really understands what the wearables purpose truly is and has kept up with the expected functions of the wearables – since some of them that they specifically point out have not even hit the market yet and speculation is varied on what they will include. I wrote a blog for my company that talks about wearables in case you want to check that out here.

Wearables are on the market and currently target specific areas such as walking steps and diabetes information. We are anxiously awaiting what the new Apple app is going to do. From what I have read the app has a lot of functions and most are tied to devices that integrate with the app. (That is the short story but if you want more check out the link above.)

The expert interviewed by the author in the first article I pointed out makes some good observations or points on what the mainstream individuals may want from wearables or even mHealth apps. He states that they want some kind of reward or motivation to keep the individual using the wearable or app. One that caught my attention was the use of personal goals. Devising the wearables to produce data or to help the individual achieve goals set by the individual. That is a great idea and one that is currently used in several fitness apps today. Another that made me go “wow!!” is a financial incentive such as insurance discounts. My first question is how are they going to know at the insurance company that I’ve used my wearable to achieve a goal in order to give me the discount? This is going back to the data and Big Brother that I did an earlier blog on. While I would really like to have those monetary incentives I have many concerns on who would have access to my data and be using it specifically for me. I’m really not so concerned with what we in the industry call “scrubbed data” or data that has the personal identifiers removed. There is that big thing called HIPAA act that I kinda like a lot.

What I really disagree with the expert about is that the users will become bored with the wearables or the apps. But I do admit that if an app requires too much daily work for me, as I experienced with the food tracking on MyFitnessPal, I don’t think I would keep up with it – I didn’t on the app I mentioned. If an app or wearable is providing usable information that is easy for the user/wearer to use then I think our culture of individuals that are trying to make their lives more healthy, for whatever reason, will be using it. If it is popular or fashionable with the public then there is even more reason for its use.

What do you think? Would you use a wearable? What would you want from the wearable or app to make it a long-term use?


Data & Big Brother in healthcare


I happened across an article on data and the Big Brother effect which included data in healthcare. I’m a bit perplexed, surprised and honestly a teeny bit worried. We know that they get data on what we watch on TV. We know that they can track trending health issues using Twitter. We know that health insurance claim information has been tracked and some allegations have been made that it has/could be used against the patient in regard to cost/deductibles and even the ability to obtain coverage. My mother has had issues with this as she has what is called a pre-existing condition in the insurance world – meaning that she had a medical condition before purchasing the insurance so they won’t pay for anything to do with continued treatment.

Now, according the article, even more data is currently being mined and applied to managing/tracking the health of populations.Honestly, I was a bit shocked as to what data they were using.

 

According to report authors Pam Dixon and Robert Gellman, these include: retailer databases, financial sector non-credit information, commercial data brokers, multichannel direct response, online surveys, catalog and phone orders, warranty card registrations, Internet sweepstakes, retailer loyalty cards, lifestyle information gathered from fitness and wellness centers, and non-profit organization member or donor lists.

 

LexisNexis is one of the largest data mining companies out there. They reportedly are using court records and housing information to assist with population health management. I am puzzled by how this information could be used for that purpose. What data or information specifically are they using?

If we start using social media data – and I have to wonder what source(s) they might be tapping for this collection – then they might find out information that isn’t shared with providers of health care – more along the line of their daily habits. Do they party/drink, go skydiving, drive cars too fast…

What are your thoughts on this subject?


Apple’s health app


The FDA has been adding some statements about mobile apps since the release of its report back in late March. Specifically, on 6/11/14 it released more clarification on what would fall under enforcement discretion – or those that it will leave up to other entities to enforce. According to mHealth they pretty much described Apple’s health app:

“Mobile apps that allows a user to collect, log, track and trend data such as blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rate, weight or other data from a device to eventually share with a health care provider, or upload it to an online (cloud) database, personal or electronic health record.”

So what does the Apple health app have included? Well, again according to mHealth, they have several diagnostic functions, including number of times fallen, galvanic skin response, and body heat flux. They have weight and activity related metrics – the ability to track body fat percentage, steps taken, calories burned. Then the nifty basal calories burned – those pesky calories burned while you sit and do nothing. And just in case you need it – the blood alcohol content results. Along with the expected medications functions – reminders, alerts to interactions, etc. Nutrition, sleep, and vital signs seem to be included.

What really interests me about the app is that is appears to be designed to work with other products more than as a stand-alone. That makes sense as it really isn’t a medical device and where else could it get most of the medical data if it did not interact? So in my mind this puts the app out there as more of a medical record for me. Then I circle back around to where does the data go?

If you are just waiting on this fall for the release of the app you might want to do some research beforehand and order your extra device for that blood alcohol content monitor, Breathometer (as seen on Shark Tank), or your Nike+ fuel monitors.

 

 


Smartphone Apps & the Healthcare Setting


In a recent blog post for Pivot Point Consulting I share information and thoughts on the use of smartphones in the health setting. We use a lot of health apps as we have become a society that is much more aware of our health over the last 10 years. We use fitness app, those with health/diseases use apps to monitor their disease state and the healthcare providers use apps to provide at the hand information. So what do you use your smartphone for related to your health?

 

smartphone


The OpenNotes Initiative: How Transparency is Leading to Consumerism in Healthcare


Take a look at my blog contribution on the OpenNotes project!

If you haven’t heard about it, OpenNotes is a project that initiated in 2010 to see how patients and care providers would react to the patient having access their visit note after they saw the provider. If you want to find out what the patients thought of the experience check out the blog. Did they like having the access and information? How did they use the information after they saw it? And what did the care providers think of the experience?


Social media and healthcare


I bet you use Facebook…bet you Google for information, too. Do you Tweet? If you read my previous post about Tweeting for your health you might know that Twitter is becoming a sort of marketing and information source for healthcare. I know of many hospitals, healthcare organizations and public health organizations that use Twitter as information outlets to target specific chronic disease populations. For example, my mother, sister and I have essential tremor so I “like” the International Essential Tremor Foundation Facebook page. It provides information regularly on the disease state as well as activities that are going on.

courtesy Power DMS Suite

courtesy Power DMS Suite

 

 

This infographic (picture with information) has some interesting statistics on how healthcare is using social media today. Of interest to me, because I am also very careful with my personal Facebook page versus my public pages, is the percentage of the physicians that DO accept Facebook friend requests from their patients. Unless I was truly a friend of that physician I think that I would want to respect their privacy, and mine, by not being their FB “friend”.

So how do you use social media in your healthcare life? Are you a fan/”liker” of any hospital or health system Facebook pages? Do you follow a chronic disease group on Twitter?


Do you print or view? Information today…


Working in IT (information technology) we are always conscious of printing. We try to avoid it. It is, in our world, similar to being caught using your finger to get some icing off the wedding or birthday cake when no one is looking. (yes, Tisha humor/opinion.)

So how do you get your information? Do you print off directions from MapQuest? or do you send them via text to your smart phone? Or even have that handy navigation system in your car? What about your grocery list? Is it on paper or do you have a handy app on your smart phone or iPad? Do you read paperbacks or use a Kindle/Nook/iPad?

A recent article in HIT Consultant noted the top 20 most insightful infographics of 2012. (infographics = pictures with words and/or information.)

courtesy HealthEd Academy

courtesy HealthEd Academy

 

This particular one seems to give some good statistics on how patients are learning in our age of technology. Healthcare extender I take to mean a healthcare provider. It is interesting that the majority of information given to patients is printed. Yet, when I think about some of the meaningful use requirements, one is to provide patient education upon discharge. So they print the information. Even if they were to give you links to videos or websites they print them on paper. I haven’t seen anyone emailing info rather than printing though that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

The infographic does point out that the provider (extenders) are getting their information from technology (online) resources. I would say that the majority of those resources are available to the general public, also. Yet there is often so much information available that it is contradictory or confusing for us when we search. There are some information providers that we feel are true and correct resources such as WebMD.

So how do you get information from your healthcare provider? Do you do your own research? If yes, is it before or after you see the provider? or both?


The new “drugs” – smartphone apps or patient engagement? or both?


In a recent post I mentioned a quote from Sherry Reynolds:

 “If  # OpenNotes was a new drug that increased patient engagement by 85%,  every doctor in the country would be prescribing it.”

Now I see an article from American Medical News talking about smartphone apps being the new drug. That really caught my attention – mostly because I am trying to use that concept in my graduate class theory paper. But back to the point…We all have kids that can’t put down the phone – the smartphone because they are texting, Facetiming, gaming, or who knows what else. I’m one of those adults that is almost as bad as my child. I am always checking Facebook, checking my WordPress for comments or likes, looking up the closest cupcake bakery, or texting one of my children or Hubby because I’ve forgotten what I was supposed to have been doing while I was doing all of that. Am I addicted to my smartphone? Nahhhh Could I go a day without it completely? Hmmmm, not so sure…..I’ve gotten close while on two cruises. But when you get to shore you can usually see who’s doing what on Facebook that you might have missed. Or even those wonderful work emails that you are truly afraid that someone messed that project up while you were gone. OOYY!!

So you can see where I am going with the familiarity of those people in the US younger than the age of say 55 – no, don’t go all ballistic on me if you are over 55! My dad only knows how to answer and call on his flip phone and my mom is becoming an iPhone guru so people are different! We rely on those smartphones. Sometimes we rely on them to the point of psychically wrong proportions -but that’s another article.

This is the key point I like about this article:

Discussions are taking place in exam rooms across the country about how a $1 app could be a viable alternative to prescribing a medication and help patients monitor their health. Some even have referred to the act of physicians recommending mobile health as “prescribing an app.”

In the traditional sense of prescribing, the phrase is not accurate, said David Collins, senior director of mHIMSS, a subsidiary of the Health Information and Management Systems Society focused on mobile health initiatives. “But in the digital wave of medicine, when it comes to mobile health, I’d say it does make sense. Patients are used to going to their doctor’s office, getting their problem solved and leaving with a prescription in their hands.”

A few things to think about with this theory, from my point of view.

1) are the patients in that group of users that will know how to get the app, download/install it and then use it? If yes, this can be quick – a business card with the name of the app and whether it is available on the Apple platform or the Android.

2)If they can get to the point of using it then do they know how to get the good stuff out of the app? With calorie counter apps it seems to be easier – you program the number of calories per day, track what you eat, see how you do. With apps that are more complicated and linked – usually via bluetooth – then there is a bit more complexity to the use of the app and the information that you get from it. Then how do you share that information at your next visit? Or even before your next visit?

3) The physician – or designated office person – would need to become a person who helped patients go thru this cycle of us. They are going to have questions when they get home. They are going to have questions when they have a weeks’ worth of data in the app and can’t see what they think they should. They will need help. Can a physician office or clinic charge for that service? (my devil’s advocate at work there.)

Overall, this is a great idea. It is moving on the right path to a nation that has been embracing a healthier lifestyle over the last 15 years. Truly, we have. There are still issues with obesity and such but there is a major trend in our population to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

These are some great statistics:

PATIENT MOBILE HEALTH BELIEFS

59% say mobile health has given them solutions that have replaced some doctor visits.

52% say mobile health will lower health care costs within three years.

49% think it will change the way they manage their overall health.

48% say it will improve health care quality within three years.

48% think it will change the way they manage chronic conditions.

48% say it will change the way they manage medication.

46% believe it will make their health care more convenient within three years.

PHYSICIAN MOBILE HEALTH BELIEFS

42% say mobile health will make patients too independent.

27% will encourage patients to use mobile health apps.

13% will discourage patients from using mobile health apps.

Source: “Emerging mHealth: Paths for growth,” PwC, June (pwc.com/en_GX/gx/healthcare/mhealth/assets/pwc-emerging-mhealth-full.pdf)

 

Do you think you would use an app that your physician recommended ? How much “help” would you expect to need to use it? How much interaction would you expect with the physician/office if you were to use it – more or less?

 


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