Wireless Health Blog

HIMSS 2016 Key Takeaway: A View from the CMO HIMSS 2016 Key Takeaway: A View from the CMO

14 March 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

Five years ago at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference, the prominent theme was “meaningful use,” and companies across the exhibit hall touted their functionality in the space. Naturally, over the last few years, the trends at HIMSS have migrated toward other buzz-worthy phrases like “care coordination” and “interoperability.” You can see this come to life by simply looking down one of the aisles on the show floor, where twirling banners and prominent signage hype these themes.


This year at HIMSS, a predominant theme and discussion point was population health management – a big catalyst of this is the transition to value-based payment models where clinicians are given financial incentives for outcomes, like lower blood pressure. The value-based payment model has turned the health care industry on its head, but it also represents an evolution in the way care is given, by focusing on outcomes and taking advantage of technological innovations in care delivery.


Interestingly, this year’s 2016 Cost Accounting Survey from HIMSS found that only 3 percent of providers believe their organization is highly prepared to make the transition from fee-for-service to a value-based payment system, but 45 percent noted that they are participating in some form of alternative payment model.



This indicates that providers know that that the shift from fee-for-service is imminent –coming within the decade for sure – but organizations are still trying to figure out how to structure for success. The discussion on this topic was prevalent across HIMSS this year and the truth is, while technology is a piece of the puzzle, one of the biggest challenges is adopting the processes and protocols to support these alternative payment models. The biggest hurdle is more about change management.


A great example of a new health plan in the vein of value-based care is the United Healthcare Motion program which was announced at HIMSS. The Motion program is designed to help participants become healthier and more active, and subsidize the cost of their health care as a result. Data acquired from participants’ wearable devices can earn them Health Reimbursement Account credits that can total up to $1,460 per year, based on their usage.



The significance here is that for the first time in history, we have the sufficient enough medical-grade data to build and launch an entirely new plan design predicated on data from a wearable device. This is a significant breakthrough for our industry, and a sign that we are indeed moving toward value-based care.


What trends caught your eye this year at HIMSS? Connect with us on LinkedIn or on Twitter @QualcommLife for more.

The Makings of Medical-Grade The Makings of Medical-Grade

10 March 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

In my last post we explored the idea of “intelligent care” – personalized and continuous care supported by technology that helps health care professionals aggregate and better examine patient data. Intelligent care will unlock data and streamline care, but it cannot work without medical-grade technology. Medical-grade technology is incredibly important to safeguard patient data, as health care is one of the most targeted industries in the world. In 2014, 37% of reported breaches were in health care, and the largest number of disclosed breaches overall were in the health care sector.

Security and Privacy

When we talk about the term medical-grade it seems like an obvious way to describe the way we connect devices that track and analyze patient data to diagnose us. However, with the rise of so many devices on the market capturing health data, such as activity trackers that count your steps, it can be a challenge to decipher between which systems are consumer-grade versus medical-grade. And it’s an important distinction.


While activity and fitness trackers are useful as far as encouraging consumers to become more cognizant and involved in their health, most are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as medical devices. Since the devices are consumer-controlled, users can edit, modify or change the data being collected, sometimes leading to incorrect entries, accidental transcription errors and more. Furthermore, there’s no assurance of privacy or security and many are also not compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which requires the protection and confidential management of health information.


By contrast, medical-grade devices and wearables require rigorous regulatory review and approval from the FDA, making the data that they emit certifiable and more reliable for health care professionals to make informed interventions. Certifying these wearables as medical-grade goes beyond just the device itself, it encompasses the digital network that supports the data transmission, aggregation and storage, meaning that once the medical-grade device captures data from the patient is it transmitted through a secure and certified wireless network.


Once the data is captured from the medical-grade device, it is delivered into a patient record system, which doctors utilize to make important diagnoses and treatment decisions based on the information generated. With medical-grade devices, health care professionals can rely upon the data for life-saving medical decisions.


Eventually, we won’t have to talk about the importance of medical-grade connectivity and integration solutions; as they will be a normal part of how we manage our health. But in the interim, which medical-grade devices do you think are the most transformative? Tell us in the comments below!

What Makes Care Intelligent? What Makes Care Intelligent?

22 February 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

In just one week, more than 40,000 health care professionals will gather in Las Vegas for HIMSS 2016. Looking back over the last several years of this conference, there’s been a distinct shift in the conversation, from discussions centered around documentation and electronic record keeping to a thematic focus on intelligent care. A mere glance at the top five priorities from health IT leaders shows that issues like connected health, data sharing and on-demand care delivery are salient issues for our industry.

Vegas Intelligent Care

Before we gather at HIMSS to discuss the next phase of connected care, it’s critical to reflect on the evolution of care, as we chart the path forward. Care currently is episodic and disconnected. Patients visit their doctors periodically and receive care that is largely generic – a one-size-fits all prescription that may not take into account patients’ unique differentiators. An analogy for this state of care is like trying to create an award-winning movie that is merely composed of a series of snapshots that don’t show the full picture, or shed light on the character’s disposition. To provide and prescribe the right care, it’s paramount that health care professionals see the full picture of a patients’ health.


This is where intelligent care comes in to play. Intelligent care is personalized and continuous, not episodic, and is powered largely by contextualized data from connected medical devices and sensors.


While medical devices and sensors generate an incredible amount of data and information, historically, doctors haven’t been able to access this data, let alone aggregate it into one place to identify patterns and make informed interventions. In the not too distant future, intelligent care systems allow for customized treatment whenever and wherever the patient may be while also allowing providers to better manage patients under a continuous-care approach.


Take Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) as an example. In the past, patients with COPD used disconnected inhalers to receive their medication and would report back to their doctors on an episodic basis. Now, Qualcomm Life is working with Novartis to transform the way patients manage their chronic disease. Using a connected inhaler, doctors will soon have the ability to receive reports about patient’s usage of the monitor, the quality of their inhalations, etc. This is intelligent care.


I’m excited to further discuss how we can collaborate as an industry to deliver intelligent care everywhere at #HIMSS16 and beyond.


Follow @QualcommLife and @CapsuleTech on Twitter for updates and stop by booth #6437 to meet the team at HIMSS 2016.

The Buzz at CES The Buzz at CES

04 February 2016, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

Walking the show floor this year it was obvious that nearly every imaginable item we interact with is becoming connected and “smart.” From connected washing machines to connected cars to connected blood pressure monitors, the Internet of Things was inescapable at CES 2016.

One great example that debuted this year is Qualcomm’s very own collaboration with Audi, which will incorporate the Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset into a new line of 2017 cars this fall.


Audi car powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset
What is interesting about this collaboration is that with new sensor technologies, this new generation of connected and “smart” cars have the ability to constantly monitor data flowing continuously from multiple sensors, identify an imminent crash, and automatically apply the break to stop the car far faster than humans ever could. The projection is that over the next five years, this advancement could prevent 1 out of 3 fatal crashes[1] (and potentially reduce the total number of fender-benders by as much as 90 percent) – further validating that smart, connected technology can help save lives.


In my role as Vice-Chairman of Health and Fitness Technology Division of the Consumer Technology Association (the trade association that puts on CES) – and as a cardiothoracic surgeon – I see distinct parallels between these life-saving smart cars and connected, “smart” medical devices that will dramatically change the delivery of healthcare.

At CES this year, Qualcomm Life displayed two examples of how the Internet of Things is shaping health care – something we call The Internet of Medical Things. We announced two new collaborations, including a connected inhaler that we developed with Novartis for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and the world’s first connected home pregnancy test, the First Response Pregnancy Pro.

Connectivity can enable improved medication adherence, better management of chronic diseases as well as the opportunity for health care providers to make informed interventions before patients end up in acute care settings.

Walgreens connected blood pressure cuff, powered by Qualcomm Life's 2net Platform

Much like how connected cars are designed to improve the user experience and ultimately the safety of the consumer, connected medical devices are helping patients and caregivers alike not only by improving care delivery, but more importantly by impacting overall outcomes.

With the Internet of Medical Things comes significant data from the connected medical devices and sensors. Hot on the heels of CES is health care IT’s biggest conference, HIMSS 2016, taking place February 29 – March 4 in Las Vegas, where we’re sure to see the latest and greatest solutions that put medical device data to use to reduce health care costs, streamline resources and improve care.





[1] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, Crash avoidance technologies 2015

Making Scalable Connected Health a Reality Making Scalable Connected Health a Reality

09 November 2015, Written by James R. Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer

Like with any disruptive technology, we have innovators and early adopters. As we transition from pilot programs to enterprise wide deployments, scalability undoubtedly remains a critical topic of discussion, especially as it relates to the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).

While connected care and the IoMT are not yet ubiquitous, we can help ensure scalability by identifying the accelerators and opportunities to propel this movement forward:

Creating Simplicity: As an industry, we need to start thinking less about the actual technology and more about how we can help providers adopt and use our technologies. We need to make it effortless for them, and be obsessive about simplicity.

Building a Connective Fabric: We must create a seamless fabric with the IoMT that makes care along the continuum – from the hospital to the home, and everywhere in between – predictive, intelligent and connected.

Developing Medical-Grade Devices: Ensuring that the technologies we create are medical-grade is essential. Health care professionals make life and death decisions based on the health data that comes from connected devices and apps. To that end, we have to guarantee that doctors can trust this data – and that it is secure and private.

Supporting Clinician Behavior Change: We have to work with providers to help them learn and practice a new care model. As payment reform moves away from fee for service to value-based incentives, clinicians will need to deliver care more and more through virtual means (remote patient monitoring and telehealth)versus traditional face-to-face encounter-based care. As an example, the new Medicare Chronic Care Management (CCM) program offers reimbursement to providers without requiring a face-to-face encounter for the first time in history. This, and many other programs, pave the way for virtual care models that can improve outcomes, reduce cost of care, and align incentives for patients, providers, and payers alike.

Building Smooth Clinical Workflow: How does technology fit into what doctors and nurses need to do on a daily basis? We have an opportunity to educate health care professionals and also create processes using connected health technologies that allows for smoother workflows, where near real-time data delivery enhances care.

As we look at the adoption curve for scalable connected health, it’s imperative to understand that these accelerators are not barriers to wide-scale adoption, they’re opportunities.

Hear more about the Internet of Medical Things and clinical adoption at the 2015 mHealth Summit. We will be sharing live tweets from the conference; follow here and on Twitter, @QualcommLife.

Qualcomm Life Acquires Capsule Technologie Qualcomm Life Acquires Capsule Technologie

14 September 2015, Written by Rick Valencia, President

In our ongoing effort to deliver intelligent care everywhere, I am thrilled to announce that we have acquired Capsule Technologie, a leading global provider of medical device integration and clinical data management solutions with more than 1,930 hospital clients in 38 countries. Capsule brings 18 years of experience in unlocking the power of clinical data to provide cutting-edge monitoring and integration of connected devices across acuity settings in hospitals. Along with their world-class customer support capabilities, Capsule’s offering includes data collection, delivery and integration into 30+ EMR and HIT systems, and over 750 medical devices for nearly every type of device in a hospital.

The joining of our companies will generate tremendous value for the health care industry. Through this strategic investment, Qualcomm Life will be in a unique position to help solve the connectivity and interoperability complexities that have challenged health care for decades.

The synergies between our two companies are exceptional. We share a vendor-neutral approach, a commitment to solving the most complex connectivity challenges, a focus on interoperability, and a vision of powering care delivery in the hospital, at home and all points in between.

Together with our expansive ecosystem of customers and collaborators, we will help shape a new standard of care, creating a more seamless experience for patients, providers and caregivers.

We look forward to sharing the latest news on the acquisition on Twitter. Follow @QualcommLife to join the conversation.

Communicating Patient Services

04 September 2015

Most patients diagnosed with chronic illnesses have a strong desire to get more information about what exactly is ailing them, and the options that are available to them. A recent survey conducted by Accenture, however, reveals that a troubling number of patients don’t get sufficient access to either.

The survey was presented at #QualcommConnect 2015 by Joshua Miller, a manager for Accenture, and was comprised of 10,000 chronic disease patients in five countries around the world.

The first key finding from the survey is that patients want more pre-treatment help; most feel that they aren’t receiving enough information about the illness, their diagnosis or the treatment they’re about to undergo. Often, patients are required to make critical decisions without being properly educated in the implications of those decision.

One of the biggest findings, however, is that less than one in five patients are aware of the programs and services that are available to them. This is important, because the survey found that the majority of patients (58 percent) who are aware of those services end up using and valuing them. This is a significant area of opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to raise awareness of value-added services and provide helpful treatments for those patients’ conditions.

Finally, the survey found that 87 percent of patients want one point of contact to help them manage their health, and 85 percent want their healthcare professional to be their primary source of information – either through doctors or digital channels.

What lessons can we learn from this study? First, “pharmaceutical companies are missing a significant opportunity to provide services to patients before they’re officially treated for a condition,” Miller said. Those companies should go to where the need is.

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies need to invest as much in the communication and coordination of those services as they do in building them; if they’re not being used, a lot of investments are simply being wasted.

All told, the survey’s findings present another window of opportunity for the health care industry to provide seamless experiences with the patient. If nobody understands their illness, the potential treatments or the services available to help mitigate the advancement of those conditions, a lot more money is being wasted in the healthcare industry that could be put to good use.

Admit to Home

04 September 2015

Can you remember the last time you had an enjoyable experience at a hospital beyond the moment you are discharged? If you can’t, you’d be in the majority. At #QualcommConnect, CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll explained that a whopping 82 percent of patients prefer to receive their care at home, rather than at a hospital or other care facility. The health care industry should prefer this as well, because billions of dollars ($17 billion, to be precise) are wasted every year on preventable hospital readmissions, and $4 billion is spent on the more than 700,000 hospital-acquired infections in US acute care facilities.

One of five households are involved in caregiving to persons aged 18 or over, and by 2030 we’ll see a 37 percent increase in Americans with chronic conditions. 26 percent of all patients waited at least six days to see their physician; 40 percent were discharged from the emergency department without fully understanding what the doctors told them; and over 18 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge. All of this translates into skyrocketing health care costs and crowded hospitals unless something is done.

While we think of these primary care facilities as the only option for taking care of our chronically ill relatives, a large number of patients can easily be cared for right at home. Driscoll’s company, CareCentrix, is focused on providing a comprehensive network of home-based health services, and therefore, high-quality alternatives to facility-based care. Driscoll gave the example of Kyle, an 8-year-old patient who lives three hours from an infusion center and has to miss a day of school every other week to receive a 2-hour infusion. Moving his infusion to home saves his health plan $75,000 every year.

“Healing at home is both possible and preferable,” Driscoll said. “Future technology will propel more at-home care.” Fortunately, current solutions are gaining traction, which will open the window of opportunity for even better innovations down the road. Consumer wearables, passive sensors, telehealth, mobile connectivity and smartphone apps are all current options that make it easier to take care of patients in the home and wherever else they go.

By finding more opportunities to move patient care to digital platforms and the home, Driscoll believes the deeply flawed health care system – which Driscoll jokes is the reason fax machines still exist -- will begin improving and more money can be saved. “In order for us to be successful,” he argues, “we all need to work together to try to find solutions. Together, we can compassionately and successfully address the needs of patients and families at home.” It’s also essential for health care companies to involve patients in critical decisions, use technology to create personalized approaches that alleviate fear and confusion, and make sure connected technology is available so all involved parties can collaborate toward the patient’s recovery.

So far, CareCentrix’s efforts appear to be having a positive impact. Driscoll reported a 40 percent savings in the first six months of managing infusions to a home setting compared to a facility; the ROI for managing facility sleep tests to the home is 4 to 1; and his company has seen a 36 percent year-over-year reduction in 90-day readmissions. Certainly, the hospital is not always the best option for the patient – or even the health care industry as a whole – and there’s a significant opportunity for companies to provide new solutions to help aid the recovery process and save a lot of money for everyone in the process.

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