E-health Day – Internet of Me: Vision and Challenges

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I had the opportunity to attend the e-health day in Sierre (TechnoArk) on June 3rd 2016. The event was well organized around big players (Boston Scientific, Roche), showing their vision of the technology and its implementation in their own business model, and startups (L.I.F.E. Corporation, Karmagenes) unveiling their innovations in the field. Moreover, other stakeholders like the health insurance Groupe Mutuel and government-financed agency CIPRET presented their real-world experiences. The event was closed by a panel discussion on the relationships between eDoctors and ePatients.

Globally, the vision of health is: health care providers will be able to improve health outcomes by working with digital patients (the data collected by sensors will be integrated and analyze to provide personalized treatments and consequently better outcomes). Several projects are developed: prosthesis control, diabetes management, vital signs monitoring for elderly people…

Below I summarize the key takeaways from the most interesting talks (not all of them).

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BOSTON SCIENTIFIC – MEDTECH : WHICH BUSINESS MODEL FOR THE E-PATIENT ?
By Frédéric Briguet, EU Digital Health Engagement

  • The goal of the presentation was to provide clues on which business model is the most appropriate for digital health companies.
  • Medical technology companies create and develop products for patients but they really have to be aware of their ecosystem and the influences that will drive patients’ behavior.
    Body sensors brought revolutionary tools to life. They are wireless, responsive, use mobile devices and allow data analysis to be performed. However, what is the real impact on health and disease management? Many companies have sensors supported by solid hardware, cloud data collection and a dashboard for mobile phone.
  • Despite the evolution of technology, we are still lacking clinical studies and proofs. In addition, the user dropout rate is pretty high (after 6 to 8 months, users abandon the sensor(s) and the app). Needless to say that, on top of all the previous disadvantages, the amount of data generated is extremely heavy and it is difficult to extract the most relevant indicators to analyze them.
    However, the first digital health products helped open new perspectives and the potential of connections between all the stakeholders. Empowering and engaging healthcare providers is also one of the key benefits of the first digital health initiatives. Beyond those elements, what’s crucial to ensure adoption and reimbursement is to demonstrate the cost savings the technology could bring to the current health care settings. Doctors also have to support it and be convinced of the use and utility for their own patients.
  • All in all, the future of healthcare is expected to improve outcomes, reduce hospital readmission rate and control costs while maintaining care access.
  • The experience of the speaker allowed him to say which business models where the most appropriate to survive and thrive in that new field. He established 4 directions (that can be combined):
    1. The patient is not a consumer. Generally speaking, he is not really willing to know that he’s ill. His main focus is to live. Family and friends are the most concerned about the patient’s health and wellbeing. Creating and developing tools that could ease the burden for the supportive people around the patient is generally well received and adopted.
    2. Understand the business ecosystem. Knowing where to position the company is fundamental to avoid being stuck in a no man’s land. Focusing on lifestyle, coaching or care pathways is different and requirements increase massively for the care pathway segment.
    3. The population is ageing and increasing. The health care system will have to support an additional financial burden with the passing of the years because we know that the majority of the costs is generated toward the end of life. Hospitals are paid today according to their own efficiency (shorter hospital stays as well as improved outcomes will generate higher payments from heath insurances). It is the OPM principle (Other People Money) meaning that the patient (who consumes) is not the payer. It is then crucial to find new solutions to reduce the costs.
    4. Understanding the disease is more than fundamental. Compliance and adherence management and control in order to avoid hospital readmissions is one of the main issues of the whole healthcare system. Beyond that point, enhancing and improving the patient’s experience as well as the quality of care could well trigger new motivations for the patient to be compliant to his treatment.
  • Go beyond sensors-mobile-cloud-dashbord to include blockchain technology, augmented reality, internet of things… + any relevant technology or innovation that can bring value to the system. This value has to be demonstrated and proved as viable for the whole system.
  • The technology has to be integrated in the patient’s experience, nearly invisible, but not less complex.

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PATIENTS LIKE ME – THE POWER OF WE
By Chris Fidyk, Business Development Director Europe

  • Accelerating research and development of new treatment but also allowing patients to support each other and exchange life experience with a disease is the main goal of PatientsLikeMe. That network is maybe the smallest social network but the larger medical registry with more than 500’000 patients. Patientslikeme provides tools for patients to put their disease into context.
  • Today, there is a lot of momentum about patient centricity. It becomes more mainstream. Patients owe other patients their own experience (drugs, symptoms,…). Empowering people to express themselves about their journey in the disease. Then, when all the stories are aggregated, meanings and trends can be extracted.
  • It is also possible to see all people taking the same drug, its perceived effectiveness as well as some conversation analytics allowing to understand which symptoms are the most talked about, the treatment awareness, the barriers to access in addition to the reasons behind their treatment failure or cessation or continuation.
  • Data (experience and discussions) stay online and available even when the patient dies to enrich other patients’ lives. Regular video postings on Patientslikeme Youtube channel show patients sharing their own experience with the website and how it helps them cope with their disease.

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ROCHE DIABETES CARE – EHEALTH: THE FUTURE WE CREATE TODAY
By Horst Merkle, Diabetes Management Solutions Director

  • You can only do something with data when you can access to it.
  • Infrastructure is the foundation for innovation and creativity” – as quoted by a speaker at the Connected Health Conference.
  • How to meet the future? The lack of healthcare staff, the increase in chronic diseases and the rising healthcare costs are the challenges. How to manage them: accountability and empowerment for the patient and the consumer. Mastering your own health with less health and care services.
  • Today, technology-driven health is messy. The solutions have to be easy to use and secure for the patient.
  • The Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHA) is at the forefront of health and wellness in today’s society, driving advancements in mobile and communications technologies, and the growing use of new devices, health trackers and apps by consumers and healthcare providers.
  • PCHA brings together the critical elements needed to ensure that these technologies are user-friendly, secure and can easily collect, display and relay personal health data. In PCHA’s vision for healthcare, consumers can use readily available technologies to access their personal health data, receive targeted health and wellness education, consult with healthcare providers and gain support from friends and family to improve their health.
  • PCHA focused on engaging consumers with their health via personalized health solutions designed for user-friendly connectivity (interoperability) that meet their lifestyle needs.
  • Business models are the main obstacles for interoperability to work.
  • Accu-Check Connect System from Roche provides an integrated meter, an app, and online tools for better diabetes management. The glucometer can share data in the cloud with the healthcare provider.

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WITHINGS – FROM QUANTIFIED SELF TO PREVENTIVE MEDICINE
By Alexis Normand, Health Development Director

  • The main goal of Withings is to sell connected products to the general public. Those products can be bought in supermarkets and will help the consumer monitor vital signs such as weight, blood pressure,… Without being a doctor, the consumer can create a dashboard for his health. Changes in health are driven by him and, due to the fact that he generates data, he will be at the center of the data collection and analysis.
  • Those tools could also be used to enhance corporate wellness and engage employees through gamification. Employers will offer a connected bracelet and will organize a competition. Employers are however inherently screening employees for health issues and can analyze aggregated data to discover trends. Data around workout and physical activity are enriched by environmental and lifestyle inputs but also by stress management and absenteeism information.
  • In the e-health field, we are in the prevention area and also on new territories like personal health dashboard and employer focus on employees’ health.
  • E-health could be widely applied together with EHRs (Electronic Health Records). Linking EHRs to outcomes allow hospitals to monitor their performance to get more money from payers as they will limit the expenses for the system as a whole.
  • Withings also builds an open health data platform with the implementation of national observatories aggregating data from all the users. Those platforms will support research on connected devices with scientific publication and could stimulate partnerships and collaborations with other data sources.

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GROUPE MUTUEL – IGNILIFE – DAILY HEALTH COACH
By Stéphane Andematten, Marketing Leader

  • Real world business case from concept to realization in partnership with the startup Ignilife.
  • Today more than 165’000 health apps are available with 40% dedicated to medical uses and 60% to wellness.
    Regarding Switzerland, few initiatives have been developed to date. Groupe Mutuel would like to be the forerunner and not a follower in the field.
  • Ignilife is a French startup with a subsidiary in Switzerland. It is the perfect combination of entrepreneurship, medical skills and user experience. Ignilife has a previous experience with Malakoff Médéric, the leader for private health insurance in France.
  • Ignilife is a e-coaching platform based on people. It covers physical and emotional wellbeing. A first auto-evaluation is performed by the user in order to have a broad overview. An assessment is then released by the system with risk factors and advices to manage and lower their impact. Support and follow-up is provided as a selection of programs the user can choose from. He can also connect his devices.
    Close to 300 video and audio plays are available. Each time a contest or challenge is won, it is input in the platform to show the progress and evolution.
  • It is essential to develop a rich, engaging and fun platform to keep the user motivated. The goals set are reasonable and not out of reach. There is a social media component where users can exchange experience and tips. More functionalities will be developed in the next future (health at work, back health, burnout prevention,…)
    Data protection is well managed, as all the data are stored in Switzerland on independent servers.
  • Groupe Mutuel pretends it does not use data collected by user but only on an aggregated basis. The rationale behind the implementation of such a project is the focus on prevention. It will help to keep health expenses at an acceptable level in the longer term.
  • Some stats:
    25’000 Ignilife users (out of more than 1’100’000 insured people)
    Mobile users connect much more than desktop users (2x)
    91% did their auto-evaluation
    61% engaged in a coaching program
    47% changed their habits

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MANAGE MY DATA OR BE MANAGED BY MY DATA
By Stéphane Koch, Expert in Digital Experience

  • People like to measure their own weight, the calories they burnt, their heart rate,…
    There is a real value added in using quantified self.
    However, coherence is not always part of the measures and can distort statistics extracted out of the data. Sensors sometimes lose connection with the app leaving gaps or errors in measures. Improving apps with coherence system would be a big step further or even allowing the user to correct the data himself.
  • Quantified self generally has a positive impact on the user’s wellbeing but it can also generate stress if the progress takes time to emerge or if it stops. Knowing the scope of the technology as well as his body are fundamental.
  • The website DMD (in French) allows the evaluation of digital tools and the sharing of everyone’s user experience.

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CIPRET – 7000 SWISS PEOPLE STOPPED SMOKING THANK TO A FACEBOOK PROGRAM
By Alexandre Dubuis, PhD, CIPRET Valais leader

  • CIPRET is a center for the prevention of tobacco use, recognized of public interest by authorities.
    It launched early 2016 a program to help people stop smoking via Facebook.
  • A real human adventure started and succeeded. The initiative was in 2 phases: recruitment and program on the same platform. It was completely free for the users. They just had to like the page, say they are interested and accept that all the posts written by CIPRET were the first they saw when they opened their Facebook app.
  • 3 pillars of the program:
    – Daily advices (personalized and not always linked to tobacco consumption)
    – Group support (tips and experience sharing)
    – Physical desire to smoke (will only last between 3 and 5 minutes => tips given to avoid relapse).
  • Professional support has been organized at 3 levels : the first one, community managers answer simple questions ; the second one, prevention experts take specific questions ; the third level, medical practioners take care of medical questions.
  • Some stats:
    1’500 posts created
    Support was on call during the whole week from 6am to 11pm
    13’000 messages have been answered in the first weeks
  • Key strengths: no moral scolding, always up-to-date, focus on workouts, nutrition, Sunday evening chats, real meeting groups.

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L.I.F.E – EXPRESS YOUR TRUTH THROUGH YOUR ACCURATE DATA
By Dario Ossola, PhD, Algorithm R&D Coordinator

  • L.I.F.E stands for Live – Inspire – Free – Entertain
  • The project started at the core of The Ark and focused on predictive models for tiredness, exhaustion and strain with the development of a garment.
    That garment is equipped with sensors to monitor vital signs (it is medically accurate and there is no need of a smartphone). It allows total freedom.
    It can be the third platform of communication (with the first 2 being computers and smartphones).
  • The medical accuracy is fundamental and it can be used in medical practice but also in sports. That garment has the same results as the invasive methods to analyze vital signs. It allows real life measurements and expansive communication (data omnipresence, diverse data analysis levels).
  • Two web sites: http://x10x.com/ (for women) and http://x10y.com/ (for men)

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ISYPEM2 – PERSONALIZATION OF TREATMENT DOAGE THANK TO MEDICAL DATABASES
By Séverine Petitprez, Scientific associate, Clinical pharmacology CHUV and Alevtina Dubovitskaya, Research assistant, HES-SO Valais

  • Software for personalized treatment dosage.
    Unique treatment dosage works very well for simple drugs like paracetamol. Unfortunately, for oncology or chronic diseases drugs, which are much more complex molecules, it doesn’t work as well. It can lead to toxicity, side effects or no effect at all.
  • Therapeutic follow-up normally starts with a blood sample, pharmacology experts interact and guide the doctor in order to personalize the treatment.
  • A new software (EzeCHieL) do exactly the same but in a much faster and more practical way. The software can create the patient’s drug metabolism curve based on the EHR (Electronic Health Record) and medical databases. Some genetic characteristics or co-morbidities can lead to changes in drug blood concentration.
  • Interoperability (web interface) as well as confidentiality and data security are guaranteed (pseudonymisation, anonymisation).

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KARMAGENES – BE A GAME CHANGER MEET YOURSELF
By Kyriakos Kokkoris, CEO

  • Karmagenes is a game combining gene profiling and psychological analysis. Integrating genetics with psychology for improved personal development.
  • What defines who you are: what you are (DNA) and where you live (environment & perception).
  • Genetics meet psychology.
  • Human centric approach
  • Could be a network of personalities and connect locally.
  • Personal guide for career development, personal motivation, and physical as well as emotional well-being.

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PANEL DISCUSSION – E-DOCTORS AND E-PATIENTS, AN EMERGING RELATIONSHIP
Moderated by Sébastien Mabillard, Swiss Digital Health coordinator with 5 paticipants: Dr. Jean-Gabriel Jeannot; Dr. Pietro Scalfaro; Pierre-Mikael Legris; Christine Bienvenu; David-Zacharie Issom.

  • The market is not yet mature, a lot of opportunities are waiting to be seized.
    The patient is at the center of all motivations.
  • Despite new technologies, there is a lot to do to reach the patient. Few success stories (the CIPRET is however an excellent example).
  • What about doctors’ digital education? Patients are really driving the trend today; they stimulate doctors to be up to date and they push technology adoption.
    Patients are very often looking for information online. Doctors should be prepared and help patients to use the right web sites in order to find appropriate and correct information. Doctors should also contribute and provide content on website to populate them with correct information.
  • All that information help to start interesting conversations. Information exchange should also be facilitated. The patient could be educated to provide the appropriate amount of information to avoid overload.
  • Patient should take part and be part of medical research. The patient is the least used resource in health care. With patients’ associations, precious information is stored and exchanged. That data can be analyzed.
  • The social component is extremely important for patients. Several of them like to share their experience and find support online. They also feel useful to provide information for other that have been diagnosed recently.
  • By giving access to medical and health information, communication and interactions with doctors will be easier and improved.

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