During the last year there have been a number of digital health solutions that have taken an uncompromising approach to meaningfully engage consumers—many of these solutions were represented at CES 2016. Following are key highlights from the conference that IHS believe will have a positive impact on the adoption of digital health technologies by patients, providers and other important stakeholder in healthcare:
IBM Watson; Under Armour and Medtronic
IBM Watson announced a partnership with Under Armour and their new cognitive coaching system. Intended as a virtual personal trainer, the system combines IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology and Under Armour’s Connected Fitness ecosystem, which has more than 160 million members. The result is an evidence-based solution that meaningfully applies health data to provide users with timely and relevant coaching during workouts. In addition to the collaboration with Under Armour, IBM also announced advances in their efforts towards better diabetes management. Together with Medtronic, the Watson platform is now able to predict hypoglycemic events up to three hours in advance, allowing the diabetic patient or caretaker to take timely action.
Diabetes Management - AT&T and YOFiMeter
Also within diabetes management, AT&T announced a partnership with YOFiMeter, the company behind a smart glucose meter with integrated finger-pricking mechanism and strips. YOFiMeter automatically stores glucose levels in the cloud and allows for data sharing. The glucose meter has yet to be FDA approved, but AT&T expects regulatory clearance in the near future. If or when the device achieves clearance, it is likely to be part of AT&T’s Healthcare Solutions.
Temperature Reading – Withings, Blue Spark Technologies
Withings, best known for adding aesthetics to traditional consumer medical devices such as blood pressure monitors and weight scales, revealed its latest product Thermo. Thermo is a non-contact temporal artery thermometer, featuring an array of 16 independent infrared sensors. By pointing the thermometer in the direction of the temporal artery, the sensors obtain 4,000 measurements in two seconds. Proprietary algorithms then correct for possible bias such as ambient temperature or skin heat loss. Thermo is marketed as a consumer product, but can easily be used in a clinical context where the user-experience could potentially increase workflow efficiency with improved hygiene. The device is FDA approved and CE marked, and will be available Q1 2016 for $99. Another company trying to deliver more insightful temperature readings is Blue Spark Technologies with its Temp Traq patch product. Temp Traq was introduced at CES 2015, however this year the company announced improvements to the product. The temperature reading patch is now able to measure continuously for 48 hours while the first generation of the patch lasts 24 hours. Similar to Thermo, Temp Traq is marketed as a consumer product, but holds great potential in the clinical community.
Connected Inhalers - Novartis and Qualcomm Life
Qualcomm Life had a major presence at the Connected Health Conference in Washington at the end of 2015. The company made headlines with its emphasis on precision medicine as an avenue for digital health to become meaningful. At CES 2015, Novartis and Qualcomm announced a collaboration to deliver a connected inhaler device to COPD patients in 2019. The world has seen connected inhalers before, but this collaboration plans on bringing a solution based on precision medicine to effectively manage COPD patients remotely. IHS estimates the number of remotely monitored COPD patients to grow at a CAGR of 28% between 2014 and 2020 to reach 371,000. Globally there are an estimated 65 million people diagnosed with COPD. COPD is a pressing global issue that cannot be solved through traditional medicine. Thus solutions such as the connected inhaler device by Novartis and Qualcomm allow for better management of patients through meaningful applications.
Generally speaking, the number of ineffective digital health solutions outweigh meaningful applications, and CES 2016 did not alter the ratio. However, a number of big players are beginning to deliver promising solutions and that is something to be excited about.