Leaders Convene at Yale University To Debate Trends, Discuss How To Use Technology To Close The Healthcare Disparity Gap
In a poll we did of parents in 2018, 74% of moms and 61% of dads said they use apps to help their parents get safely to healthcare appointments, to help them track their teenagers, and to help them figure out what to eat, when to sleep, and how to exercise.
Technology is no doubt changing our behaviors in profound ways and increasingly helping us manage the care of our families, our kids, our aging parents, and ourselves. It’s also helping ease the stress of health and managing chronic conditions and leaders explored these innovations and their impact at Yale University’s “2019 Reimagining Healthcare” event April 12th in Connecticut.
“Historians will look back at this time as a scientific revolution,” said Dr. Robert S. Galvin, MD, who is the chief executive office of Equity Healthcare. “The amount of money being invested on digital health and consumer health information technology is mind-boggling…like an Apple watch for example; it’s 8 billion dollars,” said Galvin.
Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, PhD, unveiled an at-home ultrasound machine called “Butterfly” that will help underserved countries to prevent infant deaths greatly by providing the proper technology less expensively. At about $2,000.
“It’s putting an ultrasound machine on a chip and it’s FDA-approved. Anyone can use it on any part of their body. There is a menu that shows “cardiac, lung, etc.” options that helps the lesser trained user to get an ultrasound image,” Rothberg said. “The user puts it on their chest and sees their heart beat in the app. This technology can help tell people in undeveloped countries if their child has pneumonia for example. It can be distributed around the world. A less experienced person who has a need can use it.”
Trent Haywood, MD, JD, a chief medical officer with Blue Cross Blue Shield, says technology is helping the insurer better address social determinants of health. “This is bigger than value-based payments,” Haywood said of social determinants. He pointed to BCBS’s partnership with LogistiCare for transportation services that includes rides to and from your doctor’s office or a health care facility. “Two years ago we used this to make transportation available since a lot of PCPs had high no-show rates of about 18-20%. Now every Medicare Advantage plan is looking for an opportunity to put transportation in there, but Haywood said ‘it’s not just Lyft or Uber; it’s any transportation that would qualify. Even if you’re in a transportation desert you can overcome that with technology. Fee for service can work there….with the technology.’
Former Google executive Vivian Lee, MD, who’s now with Verily Life Science noted the role of technology to address healthcare disparities and improve both physical and mental health. In one example, she mentioned a man named Steve King who was pre-diabetic for a while, woke up sick and went to the ER, and was diagnosed with diabetes. He was put on Onduo, which is Verily’s diabetic management program, and started to use a glucose monitor that’s the size of a quarter, measuring sugar levels and sending blood glucose readings through the world’s smallest Wi-Fi Bluetooth chip. There’s an app, Lee explained, where King could manage his blood sugars with what he was eating. Patients take pictures of their meals and snacks instead of using an outdated-style food log. You can learn “what did I eat and when I exercise and what happens to my blood sugars…it’s empowering because the patient learns patterns.” King lost 20 pounds and got his sugars under control.
Investment will be higher this year but there are hurdles, said Dr. Galvin. The cost of technology for both healthcare providers as well as consumers, and the privacy issues that arise as more data about us is stored and shared.