Commentary

Connected Caring

A little over a year ago, we were challenged to present an idea on how to launch a health-tech device in an already cluttered and rapidly growing marketplace. This opportunity forced us to get under the hood and think differently about one of the most complex problems in health care today: compliance and adherence to medication. 

While I’ve understood the challenges of trying to crack the compliance code, I recognize now that I understood it from a single-minded perspective, one from big pharma. I strived to ensure that patients stayed on track with their prescribed medication, hoping, of course, that if I did my job well, the patient got their branded prescription filled, and the brand had major success in its market. In some cases, we even created a pill-plus program platform.  

These were behavior-modification solutions that again attempted to crack the code of compliance. They did make a difference, but not enough of one. Attempting to market medicine to patients and their caregivers and drive daily engagement was the conundrum that we faced every day. How do we get patients to take their medication as prescribed? To stay on track and stay compliant? It required creating a compliance cycle (or loop) and sticking with it. 

Compliance is complex

The challenge of compliance continues to be a global problem that is in need of solutions. Compounding the already complex issue of adherence is the ever-increasing complexity of dealing with co-morbidities. How do we continue to battle this directly and get patients not only to change their behavior but to have it stay changed? Weight Watchers has been doing this successfully in real time around weight loss for decades.   

Its mission is to help people change their relationship with food for good, which began with a group of friends gathering weekly with the Weight Watchers’ founder, Jean Nidetch, to discuss how to lose weight. Today, the group of friends has grown to millions of people around the world who have joined Weight Watchers to lose weight and live healthier lives. In a sense, members of the Weight Watchers community are compliant with their daily food routine, which ultimately helps drive better, healthier outcomes. 

From weight loss to health outcomes

Enter the health care market today and you’ll find that innovation is transforming the compliance conundrum. Health-tech companies are inundating the market and marrying the science and art of health care with the engineering of user-centered design and technology in an attempt to transform behavior in all kinds of ways. (That said, it still requires humans to want to behave and act differently.) 

Health-tech products and gadgets are taking the complex and simplifying it, making it more accessible for everyone, not to mention offering the ability to connect all of the various stakeholders with real-time data. They are creating products that live and behave in a consumer’s world in a way that is already intuitive to them, thanks to all of the innovation in technology. And this is revolutionizing the way we care for patients and, frankly, caregivers.

The future of health: connected care

One interesting health-tech example is startup company HAP Innovations. It is innovating around compliance with its product, Spencer, a pill-dispensing device that was created to assist with adherence for patients taking multiple medications. By creating this new kind of connected-care platform, HAP is helping keep patients on track with their daily health routines.

It represents “the future of connected care” because it connects the patient, caregiver, and certified pharmacist with real-time data to ensure that the patient is compliant. Reflecting its mission, Spencer delivers a unique circle of connected care—connecting a patient, their caregivers, and a certified pharmacist to simplify taking medications and dispense valuable insights and support to help people remain healthy and live independently. It transforms compliance from reminder-based to intervention-based. It has the potential to revolutionize the way patients build healthy routines and stay independent for longer. And, on a larger scale, it would not only improve patient outcomes, it could also impact the number of hospitalizations as well as the economic burden to the system.

Connected care is the future of care, and has the ability to meaningfully change forever our daily health behavior.

1 comment about "Connected Caring".
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  1. RIchard Schwartz from Digitas Health, May 19, 2017 at 2:28 p.m.

    A 2010 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Vol. 71, No. 7) found  videoconferencing to be successful in PTSD. Researchers found it to be as effective and beneficial as the face-to-face care. Now consider the declining access to care ( particularly in rural areas, the proliferation of smart phones,and the ability to connect when you need to and not just when you are scheduled. Check out Prevail Health for one. We've a shortage of practitioners - it is not either it - it is and.

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