Category: e-health

You’ve come a long way baby! And thanks to Ovia, your mom’s employer knows all about it

published date
April 25th, 2019 by
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There’s an app for that

The Denver Post (Tracking your pregnancy on an app may be more public than you think) has published an interesting and disturbing article about the rise of Ovia, an app that collects detailed and personal data from pregnant women and those hoping to conceive. I’m not surprised that the business model is to provide data to employers about their workforce in order to save on medical costs and reduce time away from work. But I am a little surprised at how much data employees are willing to enter on topics like their sex life, color of cervical fluid, miscarriages and so on, while the app also track things like what medical conditions they looked up.

“Maybe I’m naive, but I thought of it as positive reinforcement: They’re trying to help me take care of myself,” said [Diana] Diller, 39, an event planner in Los Angeles for the video-game company Activision Blizzard. The decision to track her pregnancy had been made easier by the $1 a day in gift cards the company paid her to use the app: That’s “diaper and formula money,” she said.

As I remind people using “free” apps –or ones they are paid to use– you’re not the customer, you’re the product. There’s plenty written on this topic so I won’t bother to rehash it here, but it’s worth remembering that the data provided by Diller and others can be combined with tons of other data from their use of Google, Facebook, Waze, exercise trackers, and more to create incredibly detailed and personal profiles.

In 2008 I wrote a brief blog post called Baby formula in the mailbox. “Honey, is there something I should know?” I was puzzled to see that it still gets a lot of hits in 2019 and that readers are still commenting about their own experiences. Back then, an au pair who worked for us had received baby formula from Abbott Nutrition. Somehow, some marketer thought she was pregnant. It was kind of embarrassing and of course could be problematic for a family relationship or if the pregnancy had ended prematurely.

Online data gathering has come a long way in the past decade. If Abbott once guessed you were pregnant, imagine how much more they –or many others– knows about you now. Maybe the users of these apps aren’t naive, just fatalistic about the idea that everyone knows everything anyway, so why not just take the formula and diaper money and run?

In a few years, Diller’s child will probably find the Denver Post article or maybe even this blog post. If that person is you, I’d be interested to know how you feel about it.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

 

Social network for cancer patients: Interview with Belong’s CTO Irad Deutsch

published date
October 2nd, 2018 by
Irad Deutsch
Irad Deutsch

Belong.life bills itself as the largest social network for cancer patients and caregivers. With over 100,000 participants, Belong is approaching the scale at which it can generate meaningful insights, and leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to create a “hyper-personalized” experience.

I spoke recently with Irad Deutsch, Chief Technology Officer. He described how his personal experience as a caregiver led him to co-found the company, and talked about what makes Belong valuable and differentiated.

Overview:

  • (0:12) What are some of the main unmet needs for cancer patients and caregivers? Why was there a need for Belong in the first place?
  • (2:15) What, specifically does Belong do for patients that they can’t get elsewhere?
  • (4:23) How are providers and payers involved with Belong? Is this mainly a branding and cost-saving tool for them?
  • (7:03) What about pharmaceutical companies?
  • (8:00) You recently released a cancer fatigue survey. Why did you conduct that and what did it show? Any real surprises?
  • (10:08) You talk a lot about big data and machine learning but it’s not readily evident how those play in to Belong. Can you explain?
  • (12:50 What is the company’s business model?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Getting a handle on health insurance data: Podcast with Vericred CEO Mike Levin

published date
January 3rd, 2018 by
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Mike Levin, Vericred Founder and CEO

A huge ecosystem of technology companies has sprung up with tools to shop for health insurance, search drug coverage, administer HR and benefit plans, make physician appointments and more. They all need accurate, accessible, and detailed data on topics such as health plan design and rates, provider network participation and drug formularies in order to succeed. It’s remarkably difficult and expensive to obtain and maintain the data, and this has created an opportunity for a specialized company —Vericred— to perform the function as a utility for the whole industry.

I’m excited by the opportunity and recently joined the board of Vericred to help guide the company’s growth. In this podcast, I interview founder and CEO Mike Levin about the market and how Vericred is addressing it.

Overview:

  • (0:15) What are some of the key data challenges in the health insurance market?
  • (1:53) Why are these problems so tough? Don’t other industries have similar issues?
  • (6:23) So what’s the problem? With consumerization you have all these new players springing up and health plans just need to work with them, right?
  • (7:40) What are the typical approaches to addressing these problems? Are the problems being solved?
  • (9:16) You talk about “liberating” the data. Doesn’t that scare health plans?
  • (11:11) What does Vericred do to address these issues? Are you gaining traction?
  • (15:03) Who are your customers?
  • (17:10) Are there analogs in other industries or this is a unique beast for healthcare?
  • (18:13) What changed with the passage of Obamacare and emergence of the marketplaces? And what is the impact of recent actions to undermine Obamacare?
  • (20:23) How did you get involved with founding the company? How did it go from concept to implementation?
  • (22:44) What changes do you expect in 2018? How is the company evolving to keep pace?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Natural Language Processing: Podcast with Wired Informatics

published date
September 5th, 2017 by
murali_hires
Murali Minnah, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Wired Informatics

Natural language processing (NLP) is a fascinating segment of Artificial Intelligence that draws on a variety of emerging scientific fields.   Wired Informatics is developing and commercializing NLP within the healthcare industry.

I met co-founder and chief strategy officer, Murali Minnah last year and we have been exploring  applications for NLP within Health Business Group’s client base. I admire the company and its approach, so asked Murali to share his insights in this podcast:

  • (0:11) You are involved with a lot of the hot buzzwords: big data, natural language processing, and machine learning. What do those words actually mean to you?
  • (4:59) Are there aspects of healthcare that lend themselves well to natural language processing?
  • (7:18) How well does NLP actually work today? What’s the trajectory for its development?
  • (8:42) How do you work with a technology that is good and improving but not perfect? In healthcare it seems we’d be concerned about something that isn’t perfectly accurate.
  • (10:59) If you do get to 100 percent accuracy, how do you contend with problems in the underlying data?
  • (12:50) You mentioned operational use cases as the first places to start. What are some of the most compelling use cases today and down the road?
  • (15:35) Where is your company getting traction? What use cases? What customers?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

mHealth Israel founder Levy Shapiro shares plans for conference in Jerusalem

published date
August 21st, 2017 by

 

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Innovative Israeli technology companies have a huge impact around the world. Now, more of the country’s entrepreneurs are turning to connected health. mHealth Israel is at the center of this surge. Its upcoming mHealth Israel conference on September 14 will be the culmination of a nationwide week of activities.

I had planned to speak at the conference, but sadly won’t make it to Jerusalem this time around.

Levy shared his perspectives on mHealth in Israel and provided background on the upcoming mHealth conference.

  • (0:13) What’s the state of digital health in Israel? How does it differ from markets in the US and Europe?
  • (1:58) Israel is a small market and doesn’t trade much with its neighbors. Are most of these companies focused locally or are they looking at external markets?
  • (3:09) Describe the ecosystem. What is the typical interaction between the startup companies, hospitals and larger companies?
  • (7:10) What are some of the major themes you are seeing in health startups this year? Is it a change from the last couple years?
  • (9:38) What is mHealth Israel?
  • (11:30) You are running an Israel startup competition over the summer. What is it? When are the entries due?
  • (12:40) What are the highlights of mHealth week?
  • (14:02) Who are some of the speakers at the upcoming conference?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.