Free Healthcare IT Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Get all the latest Health IT updates from Neil Versel for FREE!

Colbert pokes fun at Fitbit and other digital trackers

“We live in a golden era of digital toys,” noted comedian Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report” last Monday.

Indeed, some of the digital health and fitness products out there are rather ridiculous, even the popular ones, and we’re hearing just that at some actual health IT events. At last month’s WTN Media Digital Healthcare Conference in Madison, Wis., Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health at Walgreens, poked fun at programs that reward people for allegedly exercising. “You could put a pedometer on your dog and get 10,000 steps while watching TV,” Pellegrini joked.

Colbert, who certainly was not present at that Madison meeting, got the same idea about the Fitbit activity tracker. “Last week, I wanted to run a marathon, so I strapped this bad boy to a paint shaker for about 20 minutes,” he said.

Colbert then addressed the Vessyl digital cup, which records data on the beverages each user consumes. “That level of information was previously available only on the can you just poured it out of,” he said. He then pointed out that Vessyl only tracks half of the hydration equation, the input, so he announced the pre-release of his own “product,” Toylyt.

Watch the clip below.

 

 

July 20, 2014 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Counting the health IT accelerators

Have you noticed all the digital health “accelerators” and “incubators” out there? I count the following, in alphabetical order:

In addition, the USC Center for Body Computing has announced plans for its own incubator/accelerator in Los Angeles, but we continue to await details.

That’s a lot. Is it too many? We have seen plenty of failures in digital health entrepreneurship over the years, in no small part because too many companies don’t understand the unique economics of healthcare, particularly in the U.S. With the possible exception of fitness products, direct-to-consumer simply does not work in healthcare because most of the expenses are paid for by third parties. (I’d argue that wellness and fitness are distinct from traditional healthcare anyway because healthcare really does focus on sick care.)

At least one report from the California HealthCare Foundation backs up my belief that the DTC focus is a recipe for failure, one reason why health accelerators probably have it harder than their counterparts in other industries.

June 4, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Health 2.0 by Twitter

Here’s my version of Short Attention Span Theater (which is pretty much what Twitter is anyway), of the recently concluded Health 2.0 Fall Conference, as I reported via Twitter. Note the juxtaposition between observation, commentary and snark.

Preconference sessions on Sunday:

Irony: RegisterPatient is on same #health2con panel as DrChrono after DrChrono called its pt history collector "groundbreaking." #mhealth
@nversel
Neil Versel
RT @: Still waiting for a demo to blow me away or provide impressive insight on adoption rates at Doctors 2.0. #health2con #toosoon?
@nversel
Neil Versel

Monday plenary sessions:

Following thoughtful keynote from @ boss Mark Smith, live launch of HealthTap at #health2con threatens to turn mtg into pep rally.
@nversel
Neil Versel
This got someone from HealthTap to misinterpret what I had said:
So much enthusiasm on health! @ After keynote from @ Mark Smith, launch of #HealthTap at #health2con turns mtg into pep rally
@HealthTap
HealthTap
To which I replied:
@ @ That was meant as a caution, not as approval. Too much enthusiasm and you lose sight of reality. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
(For the record, @CHCF is not the correct handle for the California HealthCare Foundation. It’s @CHCFnews.)

I also had an important question for HealthTap, one that so far has gone unanswered.

@ says 5k docs signed up. I wonder about liability from giving #medical advice online to #patients they don't know #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

I retweeted/commented on many others’ tweets, too.

AMEN! RT @: Need #healthIT solutions to be more geared toward real source of need in our population: the elderly #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
RT @: stickK has users commit money toward their goal, spends it on their 'anti-charity' of choice if they don't meet #health2con
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
RT @: Love Mark Bertolini's comment that people should be able to fit healthcare into their lives & not other way around #health2con
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
RT @: RT @: Jim Hansen of Dossia: 85 year olds don't like sexy interfaces. Keep it simple #health2con
@ekivemark
Mark Scrimshire

I found quite a bit of news and lack of news being announced on stage.

Aetna will have #mhealth app for #patients to make #physician appointments next spring. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
Pls don't tell me about another untethered #PHR. Nobody uses them. #healthIT #health2con #fail
@nversel
Neil Versel

And don’t take kindly to vagueness about the word “solution.”

WTF is a solution? RT @: Or just solutions! RT @: Ppl dont want a PHR, they want tools 2 help solve health problems
@nversel
Neil Versel
I hate hate hate the use of "solution" as a synonym for "product" or "service." #health2con #healthit
@nversel
Neil Versel
Good health. MT @: WTF is a solution? RT @: Or just solutions! RT @: Ppl want tools 2 help solve health problems
@grapealope
Rachel Kalmar
@ @: ok! people want good health without having to invest time into it, that's the bottom line.
@grapealope
Rachel Kalmar
(I get the sense @grapealope is among the many Silicon Valley cheerleaders who came not to a conference but a pep rally. I bet the Kool-Aid tasted great.)

So true. RT @: How many social networks will people participate in? I find it hard to keep up with one. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
What about the unmentionable of the digital divide, that people who need help, can't afford the tools we are building apps for #health2con
@rdesain
Rachel de Sain

Then came the lamest presentation of them all, in a plenary session no less, a demo of an overly cutesy “life game” called Mindbloom. The presentation was accompanied by distracting sound effects of birds chirping the entire time, and the game itself featured a guide character called the “enlightening bug.” My impression?

More touchy-feely bs. Time for a group hug. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

Others weren’t so harsh, but at least had questions about the purpose and appeal.

Mindbloom interesting idea - just wondering how many people will take the time to manage this digital Tamagachi... #health2con
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
@ I say nobody. Too cutesy.
@nversel
Neil Versel
Some will use - will have high drop off rate... RT @: @ I say nobody. Too cutesy.
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
@ Yeah, that sounds right.
@nversel
Neil Versel

I later asked fellow realist John Moore of Chilmark Research this question:

@ Ready to join hands and sing Kumbaya yet? #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

At least I wasn’t the only one worn out by having to separate the wheat from the chaff.

At odds with myself after a long day at #health2con. So much great stuff, but so much shiny hyped iVapor too. Let's make it REAL folks!

I did tone down my rhetoric a bit on Tuesday, though.

Lots of people seem to be gulping the #health2con Kool-aid. Is your enthusiasm realistic? As an objective observer, I'm seeing hits & misses
@nversel
Neil Versel

OK, maybe only a bit, especially after Microsoft’s Mike Raymer said, “It was good to have two companies create a marketplace,” in reference to Microsoft’s HealthVault and the soon-to-be-departed Google Health.

#MSFT #HealthVault and #Google Health didn't create #PHR marketplace. CapMed started in 1991. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
GH didn't have any users. RT @: Love how Microsoft Health Vault has a welcome page to former Google Health users. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

I highlighted what I saw as good points:

RT @: Non invasive blood glucose monitor unveiled at #health2con in SF. very cool! Is it accurate? http://t.co/XIBm2i8f
@2healthguru
Gregg Masters
Sona Mehring of CaringBridge: #Facebook is the 3rd largest country in the world. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

And I asked a question that I’d love to hear an answer to:

Deep Thought: Maybe there needs 2b differentiation between health 2.0 and fitness 2.0? #health2con #mhealth
@nversel
Neil Versel

I would be less likely to tune out certain sessions if there were more related to healthcare and less to personal fitness and wellness. Of course, others have different viewpoints, which is why it might make more sense to separate the two into different conferences or at least different tracks.

September 30, 2011 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Journal to examine gaming in health

You know a topic has arrived in healthcare or medicine when there’s a peer-reviewed journal for it. Now officially here is the field of gaming as a tool for healthcare, legitimized by the presence of a new journal, Games for Health, from well-known publisher Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

The bimonthly journal launched in July, and the first issue is due out this fall. According to Liebert’s press release: “Games are rapidly becoming an important tool for improving health behaviors ranging from healthy lifestyle habits and behavior modification to self-management of illnesses and chronic conditions to motivating and supporting physical activity. Commonly used applications include mobile phone-delivered games that track daily exercise and ‘exergames’ that require physical exertion in order to play (e.g., on platforms such as the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation Move, and Xbox Kinect). Games are also increasingly used to train healthcare professionals in methods for diagnosis, medical procedures, patient monitoring, as well as for responding to epidemics and natural disasters. ”

This is a tricky industry segment. If it’s something patients have at home such as a Wii or Xbox, they’ll use it. If it requires people to purchase new equipment or software, they may not, since the direct-to-consumer market for interactive healthcare technologies remains a tough sell beyond the hardcore fitness fanatics. If we’re talking about training clinicians, then we might be on to something.

I can’t wait to see how this develops.

August 23, 2011 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.