Industry Voices—At CES, tech will show how it's the key to value-based care

Twenty-five years ago, stem cell research was still in its infancy. Health records were only just going from paper to computer. Telehealth was nonexistent.

Today, people are living longer, doctors are conducting surgeries from across the world, and we can get diagnoses and order prescriptions online, without ever having to enter a doctor’s office.

Yet, for all these advancements, the health care industry remains stuck in an incentive structure that encourages – and even rewards – practitioners for over-testing or pushing unnecessary treatments. Technology is improving the accuracy and efficacy of treatment, but bureaucratic precedence often wins.

We need a better approach.

Value-based healthcare — in which health care providers are paid based on outcomes, not services rendered — may be the answer.

This “quality over quantity” model can make health care more effective and more affordable (a much-needed change, considering health care costs in the U.S. skyrocketed to $3.65 trillion last year). If done right, it can incentivize doctors to provide quality care and cut back on over-testing, and empower patients to take control of their wellness. And it can address physician and caregiver shortages and unburden health care by making it easier for the millions of Americans to age in their homes rather than be institutionalized.

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As consumers and leaders in the public and private sectors look to the future of health care, we must keep in mind what's on the technological horizon that will help bring this future to life. Advancements in digital health address some of the most pressing global issues of our generation, including opioid dependence, mental illness and chronic disease.

CES 2020 — the world’s largest, most influential technology event — will showcase hundreds of the newest technologies poised to disrupt the health care industry. Companies including Philips, Omron Healthcare, Myant, P&G, Cigna, Humana and Johnson & Johnson will present their newest products and cutting-edge research. And CES will partner with the American College of Cardiology Foundation to offer continuing medical education (CME) credits to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to highlight tech innovations creating solutions for patient care.

Here are some of the technologies you’ll see at CES 2020 this January that can help make value-based care a reality:

Remote patient monitoring

Remote patient monitoring technology makes earlier diagnoses, better outcomes and cost savings available to more and more patients. According to a recent CTA survey, two in three physicians intend to use remote patient monitoring technology to manage their patients’ health in the future.

With remote patient monitoring, wearables such as CarePredict’s Tempo for seniors can provide customized care such as serving as a call button, tracking food, water, and medicine intake and noting a senior’s location. Another innovation designed to help seniors is Electronic Caregiver, providing remote monitoring to ensure safety and wellness – and give family members and loved one's peace of mind. Other apps can remind diabetes patients to take their insulin or allow physicians to monitor glucose levels over time. And technology such as Omron’s blood pressure monitor can actively track heart health. 

The need for increased accuracy and cost savings has driven the demand for remote monitoring from both physician and payer perspectives. Through sensor innovation and miniaturization, consumer-grade monitoring/diagnostic devices are becoming more accurate and easier to wear and use — and we’ll see smaller, less invasive and more sensitive devices this year. The cost savings of adopting these devices should easily make the requisite patient education processes worthwhile. 

Digital therapeutics

Digital therapeutics are a new breed of digital health devices enabling patients with chronic disease to better adhere to treatment protocols and providing doctors with more data on the effectiveness of various treatments. Digital therapeutics can provide personalized care programs based on a patient’s needs and abilities to prevent and manage conditions and diseases — from asthma, diabetes and Alzheimer’s to hypertension, ADHD and mental health issues — and reduce reliance on certain pharmaceuticals or other therapies. One such device is a product from Carrot Inc. called Pivot, which is a smoking cessation program that uses an FDA-cleared mobile breath sensor, consumer-grade mobile app, behavioral science and personal coaching to help individuals quit smoking.

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With digital therapeutics, patients can receive daily in-home physical exercises. They can track their fitness and food intake to prevent the onset of diabetes and control obesity. They can measure their blood sugar levels. And they can receive motor, speech or cognitive behavioral therapy at home, through web-based applications or digital dashboards. Other technologies can monitor sleep patterns and provide access to personalized suggestions to improve sleep. Ebb Therapeutics, for example, develops products that help patients with insomnia through temperature sensing and control.  

Virtual reality

New virtual reality (VR) technologies allow doctors to better perform surgeries remotely, or train doctors on new skills with immersive training tools. Robotic surgeries, used in the right context, are increasingly more accurate and mean smaller incisions. And VR means doctors can show patients exactly how their surgeries will happen, using virtual reconstructions of their own bodies. Simulators from Samsung can help patients with pain management, and VR games help patients keep on track with their physical therapy.

Patients and doctors alike realize expensive testing and treatments with minimal (or no) results are not always worth the time, cost or pain. The future of health care is lower costs, more accessible care and better outcomes.

Value-based care will be an important step toward reducing chronic disease and improving overall wellness.

And at CES, we see the new tools and technologies poised to enhance the patient experience and transform the future of health care.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer technology companies.