In response to Neil Versel’s article about Digital Health Progress found here on mobihealth news, our founder Rob McCray had this to say:
Neil – this is very thoughtful commentary. Let’s call it “skeptical” rather than ”cynical” and appropriately so in my opinion. CES is all about hype and any movement needs to be hyped. Publicity does not guarantee success but without broader awareness consumer-driven health solutions will not be effective.
On the other hand, without curation for quality and outcomes this movement will fail to achieve its promise. I will posit that the goal is to reengage consumers with their own health and equip them with the tools to do so. This requires a cultural shift, in addition to technology. The logical goal of connected consumer health is to reduce the avoidable demand for health care products and services that is created by individual behavior and lifestyle. This is complementary to the goal of connected health care, which is to improve the quality and efficiency of health care products and services.
At the risk of sounding ”skeptical,” I doubt that the health care industry will lead the cultural shift, which, if successful, will reduce the demand for health care products and services by up to 50%. Thought leaders and defectors from the sector are critical to its internal transformation (efficiency, quality, accountability) and will play a big role if the cultural shift gains momentum. We have benefitted from this type of change in other sectors of the economy including energy, entertainment and even automobiles. There is no guarantee that we will gain the same degree of transformational benefits of digital technologies and knowledge in health/health care, though that is my mission.
Returning to the need for curation, there is a thought trend that deregulation of significant areas of digital health technologies is an appropriate policy. While I believe we should substantially modify our regulatory approaches to utilize the benefits of connected technologies and speed the approval AND removal of products from the market, substantial deregulation will consign digital health to the health care backwater with the ”nutritional supplements” industry. $28 Billion in annual sales sounds big in comparison to digital health, but when the true goal is be the elimination of waste within the $2.5 Trillion health care sector, the supplements market is trivial. One reason: the weight of clinical research is that supplements are not generally beneficial to human health. If digital health goes this deregulated way, the industry will have failed. So, let’s bang the drum for connected and digital health but separate quality from hype by focusing on offerings that are supported by evidence and embrace a world in which outcomes are transparent and are used to continuously improve the products and services. In this manner society will benefit in health care as it does in some other sectors including CE and cars – products become better AND cheaper over time.
Ten years ago we set out to bring the technology and health care sectors together. It is heartening to see that convergence well underway. We now face the more difficult task of driving the adoption of tech-enabled solutions for personal health and the health care system. I am good for another decade and hope you are as well.