Global Observations

Glynnis’ Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show Visit

Digital Health – What stood out:
Wellness / Fitness very strongly represented in both the conference and the exhibition. Patients/consumers increasingly considered as needing to be accountable for their own health through living healthier lives, empowering themselves through knowledge, and increasingly being able to monitor their own vital signs. There was a plethora of wearable and other devices aimed at helping consumers understand various aspects of their health – visors, glasses, watches, attachable funky monitors and a clear indication of the market started to mature with differentiated offers. Of interest were systems aimed at different segments – so simpler, easy-to-use technologies for older segments of the population (with auto-reporting to healthcare staff) and funky, fun, gaming like devices for younger segments. Gaming being used very successfully in youth (high energy dance games) but successfully implemented for adults as well.
Tele-medicine – Big investments being made by major organizations (Bosch, Qualcomm, United Healthcare etc.) into tele-medicine and there were some excellent systems to see. Long term the convergence of connected and smart homes, personal cloud, easy-to-use devices are all going to significantly increase adoption of this form of healthcare delivery. Big wins in cost reduction as patients take on more responsibility for their healthiness and engage more effectively with healthcare practitioners. New categories of healthcare professionals will evolve as community / home case workers manage remote patients as mediators or the first stop between patients and doctors. There was a very moving live case study of a diabetic patient who has been monitoring his own signs and using tele-monitoring to transmit the results to his physician to illustrate the collaboration between the two in the patient’s treatment. Outcomes are clearly much better in this scenario.
Technology as the panacea for Healthcare – very robust discussions around this topic with widespread recognition that technology is a massive enabler of patient empowerment, better engagement, improved clinical outcomes and increased alignment in the healthcare process. However today given regulatory restrictions, different standards, fragmentation amongst others, technology is doing a better of job of “connecting consumers / patients with their healthcare practitioners” than really solving critical healthcare system issues. Technologies/emerging models to watch include devices (wearable and others), personal cloud, crowdsourcing and crowd-funding, smart everything (homes, TV’s, devices), gaming and human-machine interface design, robotics (take note of Neurosky’s work with brain waves driving robotic limbs), amongst others.
Big Data – With the increasing consumerization of IT and the ability to analyze data in useful and practical ways, there is much excitement about the potential around data sharing and analytics. This excitement is tempered by the regulatory realities in the USA and the lack of collaboration between providers and vendors in developing industry standards.
Robots – a highlight was lots of hugging of white baby seal robots which were just delightful and designed to help young and elderly patients during hospitalization. Instant love affair but at $6,000 this isn’t going to be a consumer product too soon. However the big black eyes following us and the sweet purry sounds at being petted made this experience a highlight for all of us. Watch robotics as a trend that will have a big impact on our daily lives.