i3 | April 02, 2020

The Consumerization of Health

Susan Schreiner
Digital health products are becoming integral to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of disease. These technologies are empowering consumers to take control of their health and are taking on new relevancy with the shift in the U.S. system from fee-for-service provider models to value-based outcomes. They also offer opportunities for retailers and other channels.

A stumbling block to adoption is the cost of devices and reimbursement, but this is changing. Employer insurance programs are focusing on employee’s wellness for improved productivity. Similarly, there is a shift towards more seamless reimbursement as part of a ‘whole-person’ integration that includes digital experiences and consumer-oriented services. Keeping consumers healthier is cheaper than episodic expensive incidents that turn consumers into patients.

Oska Pulse is a clinically proven medical-grade pain relief device that is FSA and HSA reimbursable.

Customized Products 

Many products have been clinically evaluated with published trial results. These products monitor for a problem and are yielding personalized insights that result in actionable data to the consumer or patient that can be shared with a caretaker or clinician. These devices are eliminating barriers to adopting effective technology within health care.

The Apple Watch with its health monitoring features and apps is a good example. So too is Omron’s Heart Guide, a Class II medical device. It’s a smart watch that not only puts a blood pressure cuff on your wrist but through its closed-loop service can understand fluctuations in blood pressure and give reactive advice. It’s also the first service to directly reimburse the patient. It provides instant rewards based on daily health habits encouraging good behavior aka behavior modification. Omron’s combination of hardware, algorithms, coaching and rewards, and direct-to-patient reimbursement has hit the mass market. Is this approach a model or a threat to Pharma and Life Sciences corporations?

The opioid epidemic also has heightened demand for non-invasive drug replacement therapies for disease and pain management. Digital therapeutics, a subset of digital health, are interventions driven by high quality software programs to prevent, manage or treat physical, mental and behavioral conditions. A product called the Oska Pulse is a clinically proven medical-grade pain relief device that is FSA and HSA reimbursable. It uses Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy. Simply place the small, portable device at the source of the discomfort and it relieves thepain by pulsing electromagnetic waves at precise frequencies.

No Surgery Needed 

“Another wave of new non-invasive devices are coming to market that will provide safe, non-drug options for patients with a variety of medical conditions and are showing promise in addressing depression, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, PTSD, Alzheimer’s and diabetes,” said Jennifer Ernst, CEO, Tivic Health, a Eureka Park exhibitor at CES. These bioelectronic therapies eliminate the need for surgery and are based on neuromodulation techniques like deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s and spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain. 

Consumers want easier, cheaper and more approachable health care products and services. We have come to expect immediate gratification. Neighborhood retailers like Walmart, CVS, BestBuy Health and Walgreens are now on the cusp of changing health delivery, with new programs and pilots.

The challenge facing innovators is to move from working in silos to collaborations that integrate the best ideasto solve societal problems for the betterment of humankind. 

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