Technology Supports Care for Patients Demanding More of Their Healthcare

Laura Joszt

With patients increasingly demanding more of anyone involved in their healthcare, technology is playing an important role, explained panelists at a session of Specialty Pharmacy Connect, a pre-meeting program held ahead of the AMCP Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting 2016.
Mike Fung, BS, associated director of interactive portfolio services at Genentech, explained that patients are looking for the same level of consumer services as they would get at Amazon. Healthcare needs to start thinking a lot more about patient centricity, which includes not just when therapy starts and ends, but what patients are going through from a psychosocial perspective.
“Importantly, what are the patient’s needs, attitudes, and beliefs that influence their journey?” Fung said.
He gave a few examples of technology support that Genentech is offering patients, such as the 4HER app, targeting HER2-positive beast cancer patients. The support app was tested with patients and provides information about HER2-positive cancer and treatment options, as well as information about nutrition and how to manage the family and day-to-day life.
There is also a more light-hearted app, a version of popular games like Candy Crush. The idea was that the game would be something patients could play when getting treatment at an infusion center, or any other time they feel like they need a break. And even with other popular and well-established apps already on the market, Fung said they have seen huge engagement.
“It’s not hard to imagine the day when almost every prescription comes with an app,” Josh Lemieux, general manager of consumer health in the Health & Life Science Group at Intel Corporation, said as he took the stage after Fung.
With all the data that gets captured when a patient goes to get a new prescription, it is still missing some important information, he said. For example, the data doesn’t include if the patient takes the prescription as prescribed or if the patient experienced some side effect. In addition, there is no context to the patient’s life.
“The part that’s missing is what’s happening in the average person’s life,” he said.
The healthcare system can use consumer products that weren’t even created for healthcare purposes, such as watches, to capture relevant data. Intel designed a trial to demonstrate the use of that technology through merging information that comes from home and everyday life with information that is clinically captured.
The participants wore the watches and Intel was able to stream data such as sleep, activities, and exercise, as well as biometrics and data from other devices, such as wireless blood pressure monitors and weight scales. The participants had 4 visits with a doctor and the data from those visits were captured as well. Half a billion data points were collected.
“Our thesis here … is that you can use sub-$200 devices to get contextual information about people’s lives and that can be clinically meaningful,” Lemieux said.
Finally, Scott Honken, PharmD, MBA, vice president of market access and payer relations at Omada Health, discussed the diabetes prevention program the company runs and how it changes behavior.
A lot of people know what healthy behaviors are, but getting them to actually change those behaviors is difficult, he explained. Best practices for behavior change includes getting together a group of peers, but Omada does all it’s work online, not in person.
“We bring together an online peer group of individuals for social support, accountability, etc, as they go through the program,” Honken said. “So similar to something you might have in person, we do that virtually.”
The program provides a coach to offer suggestions and guidance throughout the program, as well. Omada also sends all participants a digital scale that collects data and it also uses other tools like pedometers that can be incorporated.
Recently, CMS announced it would reimburse the National Diabetes Prevention Program and there are elements of the program that are both in person and digital.
“We’re at a place where technology is so integrated in everybody’s lives across all age bands that there’s going to be a sizable portion where those types of things are programs and services that people just naturally gravitate toward,” Honken said.
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