“YOUR DATA – YOUR RIGHT”

The digital disruption in the healthcare industry is turning heads. The value of medical health data is on the rise, evidenced by the increasing threat of medical data theft worldwide. In fact, these days, it’s been said to be even more valuable than that of personal banking data. It came therefore as no surprise when the European Union announced its new regulation on data protection and included the protection of personal health data as part of its coverage. From May 2018, the European Union aims to increase the protection of personal health data by requiring patients to give explicit and unambiguous consent to the processing of their personal data. Patients also have the right to access their own personal data, the right to transferring their data to another entity or person, and the right to object the processing of their data.

This process is a timely development. It means patient empowerment. It returns the ownership of personal health data to the control of the individual and effectively unlocks the monopolizing control of the companies/institutions that collected that data in the first place. But what does this decentralization of data really mean and how will this revolutionize research and development in the healthcare industry?

Driving population health through meaningful health data exchange

The robust exchange of medical health data as well as ease of access are crucial in advancing research and development in the healthcare industry. The decentralization of personal health data brings us one step closer to such an eco-system, but not quite. This is because individuals generally prefer to remain anonymous when it comes to matters of health and are less likely to participate in the exchange of medical health data especially if they have concerns about data security.

According to the founders of the HIT Foundation, this is where their platform comes in. HIT (Health Information Traceability) Foundation is an organization that aims to be the leader in blockchain technology for the healthcare market by empowering patients with their medical health data ownership.

We recently met the foundation’s co-founders, Dr. Quy Vo-Reinhard and Ms. Elizabeth Chee at our last Women in Digital Health event, where they shared about the foundation’s blockchain-based online marketplace for personal health data and explained how this platform will inevitably enable collaboration to take place between companies/institutions in the healthcare industry – through the meaningful exchange of health data between stakeholders in a secure environment, and with the consent of the individual data owners.

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Image 1: Dr. Quy Vo-Reinhard, Chief Data Officer & Co-Founder, with the HIT Foundation team and advisory board on the slide behind her.

“I believe blockchain is the technology of the future. It ensures that collaborations can happen in an open and secure manner. Our platform allows entities that store the medical data (e.g. hospitals, pharmaceutical companies) to connect with those who need access to it (e.g. policymakers, research and development divisions), with the individual data owner facilitating this exchange through his/her consent,” explained Dr. Quy Vo-Reinhard.

By using blockchain technology, HIT’s online marketplace secures individual data owners’ anonymity – making it more attractive for people to participate. Through the platform data seekers can incentivize individual data owners with tokens that can be earned when participating in a data exchange.

Integrity of data is of upmost priority

To ensure the integrity of the health data exchanged on their platform, current stakeholders who store the data (e.g. hospitals, pharmaceutical companies) are very much part of the eco-system. Their participation in the eco-system ensures that the medical health data of the individual that is exchanged has been officially verified and maintains its integrity. The foundation’s platform also makes it easy for current stakeholders to participate in the market without needing to completely build a new system; just plug and play. “You, the individual, are the person who can connect the dots and facilitate a meaningful exchange. We want the critical intermediaries to be a part of the system, but it has to serve a social purpose. Your data could be used to facilitate quality of care, prevention, and drive population health,” shared Elizabeth Chee.

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Figure 1: Token Economy in three phases

The next steps

Blockchain technology’s increasing application in the healthcare industry is set to benefit many stakeholders. It will first and foremost benefit the individual by securely unifying his/her medical health data and provide a comprehensive medical history that can be easily shared by the individual to medical institutions regardless of where the data resides in the first place. It will secondly benefit medical institutions and companies who are sitting on valuable medical health data but have had no options to exchange this knowledge, because of a lack of secure data transfer options and a lack of systems in place to easily engage and facilitate consent from individual data owners. The potential of blockchain technology’s application in the healthcare industry is tremendous and will most definitely play a defining role in revolutionizing its future.

The HIT Foundation’s blockchain-based marketplace for personal health data will be launched in summer 2018. They were recently recognized as one of the” Blockchain for social good ” projects at the World Economic Forum 2018 and was invited to participate in the panel discussing “Blockchain for Humanity”.

About the author

Aisha Schnellmann is a Singaporean native who spent four years recently working within an international philanthropic foundation. A sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore, she was as often at the floating villages of Cambodia conversing with beneficiaries, and the boardrooms of multi-national companies, speaking with executives and donors.

Currently based in Zurich, her interest in digital healthcare grew from the conversations she had with committed medical staff in rural hospitals in Asia, who remain hard-pressed with the technology available to them.

Again, we are looking at a promising start-up, which uses blockchain technology to develop a platform in healthcare, called “Sunny Lake”, based in beautiful Paris. It is built with the Ethereum blockchain and aims to offer an exchange platform for different stakeholders in the healthcare system like patients, physicians, researchers or laboratories. Their goal is to provide a toolkit, data and experts in order to conduct health and life science studies, in an efficient and effective way. What the benefits for patients/users are and why Sunny Lake is not a typical start-up, Jean-Christophe Despres (President and Co-founder) shared with us in an interview.

By Tram Trinh and Sunjoy Mathieu

Jean-Christophe, you are a French globetrotter and serial entrepreneur in the marketing field. Why did you decide to enable clinical studies with an emerging technology like blockchain ? Can you tell us more about you?

Jean-Christophe Despres: My entrepreneurial journey started back in the mid 90’s working on online communities. I later created the first ethnic marketing agency in France where I had to deal with public health campaigns targeting migrants. Once again, I’ve used a community-based approach. Later on, I’ve participated in a think tank, Club Jade, which launched those amazing projects on Big Data and Cancer, and an open source portable echograph. They happened to start from my office at the time and I had many opportunities to see the power of their growing communities. Talking with patients especially experts dealing with chronic diseases convinced me that a health community using blockchain technology would address major challenges in health and life science studies such as transparency and data privacy.

What is your Sunny Lake product?

Sunny Lake is an e-health platform based on Ethereum blockchain on which patients, physicians, researchers and labs can collect, share data and therefore build and test future health and life science studies in an accelerated mode.

This platform should become the meeting place for sharing between patients, physicians, research and lab organizations where everyone can find at an affordable and controllable cost, the tools, the data, the experts and the communities necessary to finalize the first steps of such studies. Our initial version of the Sunny Lake has just been launched and now we are developing an enhanced version, expected to go live in June 2018.

You mentioned Etherum is underlying your blockchain. Why select this one, since there are several other existing blockchain technologies?

Ethereum was designed to enable users to build smart contracts. Those contracts are algorithms which enable stakeholders to exchange data or counterparts, commonly referred to as tokens, in a secured and simple way. As our ecosystem involves many interactions with different entities (pharmaceutical companies or public labs) or individuals (experts or patients), we think that Ethereum is a fundamental layer for future applications. In addition, as a platform, we wanted to work on a public blockchain.

We understand that the benefits for patients and for the medical is a trustworthy reliable and traceable universe of questionnaire protocols, data and consent that can accelerate medical research findings. Is our perception correct?

With blockchain, there’s already a feature which is not questioned much, it’s timestamping. Bitcoin is running for many years with not a single fraud or bug on that matter. We are therefore quite confident with our business proposal regarding informed consent for instance. But there is more to it which is as important maybe as the internet revolution: the tokenization of our economy. This simply means that everybody in a community should be entitled to be rewarded for their participation through a common process. For Sunny Lake that means that there will be strong incentives for sharing data. We expect to receive massive feedback from patients not only because they will be rewarded but most of all because they will be able to measure up their own impact on research.

How do you envision the speed to adoption as everybody relies on trust and for the time being your direct customer is a business organisation, that will then reach out to the end user patient/consumers?

Well, this is why we are not a startup like others, always rushing. We need to build our own circle of trust, explain the impact of technology on business and change habits, participate in creating new standards. As long as we are moving forward, implementing our technology step by step, it’s ok. We can perfectly understand that the industry is watching us with interest and doubts. Hopefully, there are some pioneers and we are glad to receive more and more trust. Meanwhile, patients are eager to see this new age coming. It going to take a couple of years but we think it will bea fundamental change.

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It seems trust is a non-negotiable condition to impact a scaleable volume of questionnaires and consents not only in France but also globally?

The only issue is of a legal nature and it’s barely affecting us for what we are doing at the moment. For other matters, technology doesn’t care about borders. People suffering from rare diseases are already used to communicating with each other worldwide. What we want is us to have a greater voice and empowering them to initiate new research.

Jean-Christophe Despres, President & Co-Founder of Sunny Lake

What is the profile of companies using Sunny Lake? And why in your opinion do they trust you as all is based on Ethereum technology that other blockchain solutions could use?

Many pharmaceutical companies now understand they need a new deal with patients. It’s not always in their corporate culture and sometimes difficult in their highly regulated environment but they are eager to participate in trustworthy protocols. One of our client has challenged us because they didn’t want to have any record of patients public keys. It helped us a lot in designing the platform. If a company wants to use blockchain as a process, it doesn’t require Ethereum and we did that too. But most of them value this concept of community where a public blockchain makes full sense.

What are the concrete use cases you have been working on and was is the outlook for Sunny Lake?

Some real life science studies in Switzerland with the goal to create a tool for online consent, transparent, reliable and traceable. Every patient in the study could download on a third-party website the pair of encryption keys they would use for their consent. They are the only owners and holders of the keys. In order to have real consent, design of the protocol, training through simple videos were key to ensure complete understanding of the study purpose. The main investigator of the clinical study and himself could only receive the consent form to sign himself through e-mail and get the signature notarized by the blockchain. A first of its kind in real-life conditions.

As next steps, we will even receive more reliable data thanks to a methodology of registry based on transparency and unfalsifiable protocol, hence a stronger engagement from patients who can control their data and their traceability and enrollment probability.

Also, we’re launching an Initial Coin Offering. It directly relates to what I’ve mentioned regarding the tokenization of economy. Concretely, issued tokens will not only be displayed only to Sunny Lake but also to strategic partners that will contribute to build an improved ecosystem of clinical research. Patients will benefit from it but it may also involve other start-ups as well as pharmaceutical companies.

In a nutshell, what’s your critical life mission?

Contrary to many projects, we are not a portal, nor a “DMP” (Patient Medical Record) but an actor and conductor of an ecosystem. Our mission is to contribute to the best flow of quality data serving the future medicine based on big data and artificial intelligence. We want to facilitate data interoperability by creating meta data standards and by systematically notarizing exchanged data on the blockchain.

Thank you, Jean-Christophe!

Learn more about Sunny Lake and their projects:

Do you want your own start-up to be featured in a blogpost? Take this chance and contact us today!

With the highly-valued support from your business partner, Tram Trinh (CEO VITAnLINK, A Health Tech Accelerator in Paris), we have the chance to look over the Swiss start-up border and follow some international companies who are engaged in the area of healthcare and the opportunities the blockchain technology can offer in this field, as a benefit for people and patients.

I’m proud that we can provide our HEALTHINAR followers with a glimpse of the exciting times and dynamic team spirit of Iryo, a very promising start-up. With a patient-driven approach, they are developing an open-sourced EHR platform, that gives patients, hospitals, and medical research institutions complete control over their healthcare data. Their goal is to create a global and participatory healthcare ecosystem, based on the values of data security, maximum interoperability, and privacy.

Enjoy this week’s read, an interview with Vasja Bočko, (CEO Iryo) and Tjaša Zajc (Business developer and Communications Manager, Iryo).

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“We take best practices learned in developed countries and bring it to the developing ones” – or: How Iryo is creating a global participatory healthcare ecosystem

Being from the world of IT, what urged you to tackle the highly regulated healthcare sector coming from the advanced IT world?

Tjaša: Compared to other industries, IT in healthcare is years behind in offering healthcare providers and patients a good user experience. Most IT providers provide vendor lock-in systems, making the exchange of data and interoperability extremely difficult. We are creating a system that is built on a standard that can increase interoperability (openEHR). Moreover, Iryo will be open-sourced, making sure there that vendor lock-in is non-existent. Blockchain adds a layer of transparency and immutability that will make the system more secure and trustworthy.

And so, why do you believe that Iryo will be able to outperform the big players in this space?

Vasja: I would say they all are facing the innovator’s dilemma, in reference to the book of The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen. Because these traditional players have always been successful in existing models, they can’t get out of this legacy mode easily and quickly.

The markets we believe we can have the fastest impact on are developing markets such as Africa and/or parts of the Middle East, where the markets and regulations are less developed, leaving space for new players.

How does Iryo turn this vision into reality?

Tjaša: We are currently working with a non-profit organization called, Walk with me, that is active in refugee camps in the Middle East. It was introduced to us by one of our advisors, Brian de Francesca. Facing a severe lack of resources, most needs are tended to before an EMR system in a refugee camp. On the other hand, patients with chronic conditions tend to spend many years in these camps. Offering a system, in which they will be able to have their medical data stored on their smartphones is a step forward to improving their continued care. When they leave a refugee camp, they will be able to take all their medical data with them. Blockchain technology will be the primary solution enabling them to become the decision makers around their data. They will be able to grant or revoke access to their medical records based on their needs.

Vasja: Refugees have minimal resources, but one thing that holds a significant amount of to them is their smartphones and having internet access. The turn over of healthcare professionals in refugee camps is high, as they come through various NGOs. We are building an IT system that will be user-friendly for healthcare professionals and patients alike, consequently helping with the accuracy of medical records.

Given the number of refugees, and the capacity of smartphones, how can they store all this data?

Vasja: Big files such as imagining diagnostics results, will not be stored on the phone directly. Iryo provides a cloud-based platform that can store the additional data from the patients free of charge. The refugee project is our pilot project to prove the concept and eventually design a model for scaling to other places with similar challenges regarding connectivity and infrastructure.

What are your target segments and business model?

Vasja: Our software will be available as a SaaS freemium service. If a healthcare provider has IT capabilities for maintenance, they can use it as such or pay us to service them. Additional revenue streams will be local customization, tailor-made solutions. The most prominent potential we see is for Iryo to become the global platform for researchers who would have to pay for the access to patient records by incentivizing patients to open their medical files in exchange for Iryo tokens.

What is your unique message that you would like to send to entrepreneurs, investors, healthcare providers, researchers, here and today?

Tjaša: We will need to ramp up our development team in the near future in order to further develop a robust and reliable product.

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The core Iryo team with some of the advisors

What tenacity and long-term commitment! What drives you guys?

Vasja: We have all worked in IT which generally benefits from quick progress. A few of us initially worked in healthcare which is where we observed the inefficiencies concerning IT infrastructure across the board. The gap is massive, and unacceptable in this day and age. We want to bring the best practices and approach in IT to the healthcare world.

Tjaša: My personal interest in healthcare derives from being a chronic patient for more than 15 years now. As a former healthcare journalist, I follow closely where healthcare system inefficiencies are and what solutions could address them. We want to be the catalyst for change.

So this is what makes you wake up every day?

Tjaša: Yes, striving to create a meaningful social impact.

Kind of a Robin the Hood in healthcare?

Tjaša: I wouldn’t quite say Robin Hood as that would mean we would have to steal from the rich to give to the poor, but yes we attempt to take best practices learned in developed countries and bring them to the developing ones.

Learn more about Iryo and their projects:

By Tram Trinh

Bayer announced a new global head for digital health and finished its 3rd accelerator batch. Merck has officially doubled the size of its venture unit and is launching its 3rd accelerator batch in 2017. Many ‘big pharma’companies including Roche, Pfizer and Takeda have started to reach out to the startup world, attending most of the key European digital health events (Health 2.0, ECHAlliance, FT healthcare, Frontiers Health etc.). Not surprisingly, these initiatives created a flow of digital health entrepreneurs rushing towards partnerships with the big pharma companies in hope to engage with a potential exit candidate.

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Pilot-isis – a typical infection of the pharma companies

Nevertheless the path to exit with a big pharma can be a daunting journey that can last a minimum of 2-3 years. Like any big corporations, they are huge organizations. Disseminating new digital health products across a base of a minimum of 100,000 employees (scattered around the globe) is a serious long-term effort that requires a lot of attention and time.

One of the major pitfalls a startup can fall into are pilots that end up getting stuck in one country/division/function and never scale globally. For example, if startups knock at the marketing door, chances are that their job priority in an affiliate or region is to launch a drug and deliver targeted numbers. Their focus is miles away from scaling up a newly experimented digital health innovation, often perceived merely as an add-on to their drug-selling business model (unless it’s an app that can be used immediately as a marketing channel to support drug branding).

“There is some unavoidable investment time”, says Fredrik Debong, co-founder of mySugr, a startup focused around diabetes. “It is important to define and agree on the KPIs with your C-level pharma contacts right from the start and maintain an up-to-date discussions you will most likely shorten the timeline.” If you start the relationship with no incentives for the pharma management to drive a project with vague uncertain envisioned results, you can be guaranteed your pilot remains a pilot for a long time.”

One success of mySugr with Novo Nordisk relies on the clarity of the promise from the start: educating the market fast based on a trusted loyal base of patients. MySugr B2C model represents a recurring loyal user base of close to 1 million patients. And recent news proved it right: Swiss Pharma € 50 bn Roche acquired MySugr in June 2017 at an estimated € 70-80  Million sale prices to advance with MySugr Roche’s own digital strategy on the diabetes market.

Medtech – alternative gate way to the health care system?

However, with medtech it appears that pilots are not needed and the timeframe between the date of initial discussions to rolling out the digital health solution can go down to 6 months, as demonstrated by mySugr in partnering with Roche. Traditional medtechs are currently in transition: they must adapt to several metrics shifts in reimbursement regulation, consumer empowerment, digital enablement and their competitive landscape. As a result they are opening up faster to increasing partnerships with the digital health startup ecosystem. Here are the 7 driving factors:

1)   New European MDR Medical Device Regulation

The 5th April 2017 EU Medical Devices Regulation requires more information transparency to consumers, vigilance and market surveillance, safety and reliability in medical devices. This is leading to portfolio rationalization at medtechs and represents an urgent incentive to invest “in new capabilities such as data analytics” EY 2016 medical technology report

2)   Shrinking revenues, pricing pressure from influential payers and hospital systems, in European socialized markets

This has forced medtechs to co-develop and partner with tech companies outside of their traditional boundaries to deliver shared-risk and value-based outcome to payers and patients. Omar Ishrak, CEO Medtronic, at JP Morgan Health Care Conference January 2016 already mentioned his “New Partnerships and Business Models based on Joint Accountability”. A few months later, Medtronic partnered with the digital brain of IBM Watson to improve diabetes treatments.

3)   Data as a common language

Christian Krey, CEO of Emperra, explains to us that “Medtech companies in our ecosystem have always been familiar with creating and using data for patients’ benefit. They understand the value of data and how to use and combine them to find new business models. Most Pharma companies still see their future in selling molecules, having a longer way to data-driven business models. For a digital health startup a partnership with a medtech company will leverage both partners.

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4)   A “patient-centric offer” as the baseline

between medtechs and digital health startups, says Gabriel Enczmann, Director Business Development at mySugr. “They are both allowed to market and speak to patients directly while pharma is highly regulated on what can be said or not said about their product to patients “

5)   Moving “beyond the product“ into long-term Integrated health solutions.

Andreas Joehle, CEO & Chairman of the board of directors at Hartmann, stipulates clearly that his industry must re-think healthcare to create sustainable solutions: “we need to drop individual agendas and have an open-minded conversation about how to make real improvements. This needs to involve stakeholders from the entire healthcare value chain, as well as having people from outside the industry to bring new perspectives”. “Mobile apps have quickly established themselves on the healthcare scene and can help monitor everything from blood sugar levels to heart rates and cholesterol levels”

At Frontiers Health 2016, Dierk Beyer, Partner and co-founder of TransAct Advisory who see real-life digital health exit transactions confirms “If you combine a gadget with an IT platform, this can be interesting for both Medtech and startups. The links to disease monitoring represents a tremendous value to Medtech”

6)   The unique value of proximity and relationships built by startups with their end-users

Pritt Krus, CEO of Dermtest, from Estonia emphasizes how relationships catalyze sound  discussions: “As a digital health startup employing software and hardware solutions we have several potential cooperation points; yet quite often the extent and relevance of cooperation possibilities become clear only after a good relationship has been established with our main stakeholders first – doctors and patients – and there is initial traction with the service.”

This growing loyal community of doctors is what Touch Surgery, founded by CEO MD Jean Nehme, succeeded in building. Its cutting-edge surgery simulation app helps surgeons train ahead of complicated surgery procedures, or to familiarize themselves with new surgical procedures. Jean highlights that “The key to startup success is the ability to articulate the “new” and the “old” way in the startup “pain killer” value proposition to your Medtech partner. The winning agreement between both sides lies somewhere between the new disruptive way and the traditional model looking at long-term and existing practice”, which Touch Surgery did with J&J Ethicon, Stryker, Smith& Nephew and Zimmer to name just a few.

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7)   Medtechs and Digital Health Startups are ready from both an organizational and investment perspective to build strategic collaborations

Creating a global and local synergy in the partnerships

As Gabriel Enczemann from mySugr reveals, their successful startup approach has been on two levels as they are expanding from Austria, to the US, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Canada with the big Medtech Roche Diabetes. Speaking with champions and affiliates from two continents did help them build a global offering service that includes as well ready-to-pick options for country affiliates.

Synergy between startup R&D and medtech Regulatory know-how

“Partnering for a startup with a big medical device organization is like having an external regulatory department, and the startup is like the medical device organization’s innovation External lab” says Frederic Lordachs, co-founder and partner at Doctoralia from Spain.

One thing is sure: Roche’s acquisition of MySugr predicts further digital health acquisitions by Life Sciences companies, increased digital health valuations and investor interests. What digital health startups have recently built with Medtech companies will pay off in a shorter timeframe.

tram

About the author
Tram Trinh combines executive entrepreneurial and corporate health tech industry experience, as well as non-executive roles across Fortune 500, Privately-held Medium-Sized Business to Not-For-Profit organizations. She has lived and worked worldwide and founded VITANLINK to bring societal impact, co-founding and co-developing ventures in Medical Devices & Diagnostics | Telemedicine | Digital Health-eHealth | Artificial Intelligence

Picture sources
https://medtechboston.medstro.com/blog/2015/02/23/massachusetts-bets-on-digital-health https://www.healthcare-informatics.com/blogs/rajiv-leventhal/are-consumers-ready-patient-centric-healthcare
http://www.kpcb.com/blog/six-truths-digital-health-entrepreneurs-need-to-know

By Evgeniya Jung

If somebody told me just some years ago that hospitals would soon be using social media as a means to advertising their services and communicating with potential patients, I would be pretty surprised. However, big social media platforms deservedly earned their popularity in the healthcare sector due to their effectiveness in connecting those who provide healthcare services with those who are searching for them.  It is true that in many countries hospitals still don’t view powerful social platforms like Twitter or Facebook as a communication tool between a potential patient and a hospital. But the fact remains: In many countries it has proven to be effective and lucrative for hospitals to use social platforms, also due to significant changes to the health insurance system in Switzerland over the years and the need for hospitals to prove their function as an economic enterprise, using the structure of Swiss Diagnosis Related Groups, the Swiss version of a fee-per-case system.

But not only hospitals can use social media to their advantage.  Patients can also benefit from the use of social platforms in order to convey their wishes to those, whose services they might be using later. Being a frequent guest in hospitals due to diabetes and gaining deep understanding through my experience about how medical insurance, health centres and hospitals work, I took interest in the subject of hospitals’ involvement on social media. I am going to analyse the use of social platforms by some hospitals in Switzerland in order to show what catches an eye of a patient and what she or he expects from a hospital to publish on its page.

Sharing experience, seeking advice

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First of all, it is very important for a patient to be engaged in conversations with other people, especially with those who face the same difficulties with health. Sharing experience and seeking advice is an important part of the interaction between patients and doctors or other patients, who went through the same troubles. This kind of interaction on social media can be encouraged by letting patients speak on camera about their experience through an interview (for sure, if the patient himself agrees to share his story) or letting them leave reviews and comments on social platforms.  It is also advisable to let patients speak openly about their experience at the hospital, no matter if good or bad. I found it very nice that hospitals like the Universitätsspital Zürich or the Klinik Hirslanden are answering politely on Facebook to all kinds of comments from their patients and trying to solve conflicts with all possible means. It helps show people that their opinion matters and that measures are undertaken to improve the level of satisfaction with the services.

Information and trust

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The second thing that is greatly appreciated by patients is the publication of educative videos and articles on the page of a hospital. I have found loads of informative articles on diverse health problems on the pages of different Swiss hospitals. However, the quality of content varies greatly. The best work done so far in this direction is the videos from the Klinik Hirslanden on YouTube. Their videos are very informative, helpful and comprehensible. It is essential to remember that most patients don’t have medical education and they shouldn’t get a feeling like they don’t understand what they are reading or watching. The information has to be easily interpreted and put in simple words so that even children can understand it. In this way hospitals can make connections between patients, create a friendly and caring atmosphere and build credibility and trust.

Concern and care

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Another important thing that patients value greatly when it comes to relationship between hospitals and patients is the demonstration of concern and care for other people. One of the ways to show on social media that your team at the hospital is not indifferent to the suffering of others is by posting news about different humanitarian campaigns and encouraging those who are interested and want to help to take an active part in volunteering work. I found it touching, when I discovered a link on the Facebook page of the Stadtspital Waid in Zürich to a project that a group of doctors organized in order to help establish basics for accident surgery in Tanzania. The Stadtspital Waid reported about their trip and the work the doctors are doing there. It is a great way to show support for the people who have no access to good medical care and social media can help build awareness and sympathy.

Since social media platforms are gaining popularity not only among private internet users, but also in business, it is only left to say that every hospital that wants to ensure its further success and development needs to consider being active on social platforms. Many hospitals in Switzerland are moving in the right direction, providing all the information needed for the patients about the hospital itself and its services. It allows building a bridge between a patient and a hospital, because communication is the very first and most important step in promoting mutual cooperation and trust between the two parties.

Are you a hospital or another institution in the healthcare system? Do you want to raise the attention of your stakeholders and improve communications to (potential) patients, medical doctors etc.? Then we might be able to help you.
Yes, I want to learn more about social media in healthcare

Sind sie für ein Spital oder eine andere Institution im Gesundheitswesen tätig? Wollen Sie die Kommunikation mit Ihren Stakeholdern wie (potentiellen) Patienten, Ärzten und Mitarbeitenden verbessern? Gerne helfen wir Ihnen dabei.
Informieren Sie sich bei uns über Social Media im Gesundheitswesen

(Services are available in German and English / Unsere Dienstleistung sind in Deutsch und Englisch verfügbar)

Picture sources:

https://radiantmarketingaz.com/6-dos-donts-healthcare-social-media-marketing/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141123074833-37618139-social-media-in-healthcare

http://blogs.aspect.com/improving-customer-engagement-in-healthcare-organizations/

On September 9th 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook detailed the company’s latest breakthrough product, “Apple Health”. It was proudly paraded promising the most comprehensive digital tracking of an individual’s health and wellbeing. From monitoring sodium intake to recording sleep cycles, it was tipped as a world’s first in its absolute breadth of tracked health data metrics. A game-changer in personalised healthcare, it aimed to empower users with vital information that informed better decision-making in lifestyle choices. Glaringly, Apple chose not include the tracking of menstruation in its comprehensive metrics; an exclusion that was pounced on by critics worldwide as a neglect of women’s healthcare. It has since rectified this oversight, and included fertility forecast and menstruation in its list but it still begs the question: how did a global tech company build a product, and forget about the needs of half of the world’s population?

Create what you need

The list of top health concerns that women have versus men reads very differently. Women are concerned about health issues such as breast and cervical cancer, maternal and reproductive health, depression, and violence against them (especially physical and sexual violence). Men on the other hand, are concerned about heart attacks, cancer, weight gain, and strokes. This difference in perspectives carries over into the discussions held by tech talent within the digital healthcare space, and ultimately determines which product gets made first (or at all).

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With the tech industry disproportionately male-dominated, women usually form the minority at these discussions. At Google, only 17 percent of its tech talent are female. At Facebook, it is 15 percent. As a result, there continues to be a lack of focus on addressing women’s needs in digital healthcare. With women not part of the conversation during the development process, it is then unsurprising that there are limited apps built focused on women’s healthcare.

Building digital products for women

In fact, an audit of women healthcare apps available found that 80 percent of these apps tracked fertility and menstruation cycles. This greatly overlooks the breadth of women healthcare needs that can potentially be addressed digitally. With more women and girls encouraged to enter the tech industry (and nurtured to pick up coding), this potential can finally be unlocked.

The Clue app for example, was created by co-founder Ida Tin and provides a more nuanced approach at tracking fertility and menstruation cycles for women. Its expanded feature set includes tracking PMT-related (pre-menstruation) symptoms like low energy level and moods – symptoms that continue to baffle the majority of men worldwide.

In Mumbai, a group of girls aged between eight and sixteen years old picked up coding through an innovation slum project, and created mobile apps that addressed women safety, access to water and education – issues that affect women more than men. In particular, the app “Women Fight Back” tackles women’s health concern of violence against them through features such as distress alarms, location mapping and emergency contacts.

Happy creative businesswomen using laptop together in office

The future of digital healthcare

The gender gap within the tech workforce is decreasing, with more girls and women formally or informally getting trained in tech. The progress however continues to be slow, so it remains to be seen to what extent women’s healthcare will be represented within digital tech. Ultimately, to create the best healthcare products, digital or not, it is important that the perspectives of men and women (and to expand it further, those within the LGBT communities) are equally included in the conversation and heard. With more women in technology, there is an opportunity that instead of being confined to the role of “consumer” and “user”, women will ultimately be able to create digital healthcare products personalised to their needs.

Do you wanna know how women can rock tech, discuss about it and get to know the code girls? Save your ticket for our next event in Zurich at the Impact Hub: http://healthinar-codegirls.eventbrite.de

Aisha Schnellmann is a Singaporean native who spent four years recently working within an international philanthropic foundation. A sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore, she was as often at the floating villages of Cambodia conversing with beneficiaries, and the boardrooms of multi-national companies, speaking with executives and donors.

Currently based in Zurich, her interest in digital healthcare grew from the conversations she had with committed medical staff in rural hospitals in Asia, who remain hard-pressed with the technology available to them.

Fotos sources
http://inform.tmforum.org/tag/women-of-the-digital-world/
http://www.stockunlimited.com
http://wallpaperswa.com/Art_Design/Digital_Art/women_digital_art_antenna_television_wires_cloths_show_1500x1077_wallpaper_73816

In the life of a person, for whom daily intake of various medications is a necessary evil, an easy-to-use and efficient reminder is a life-saviour. When it comes to meds, everything has to work precisely. I know how easy it is to forget to take a pill on time. I also understand that the price is high for forgetting to take the medicine. After all, you can never expect to reach the desired effect from pills if you don’t take them, right? The challenge of keeping track of the prescribed medications can be met with a smartphone in your hand and MyTherapy Med Reminder downloaded on it.

MyTherapy_Blutdruck

MyTherapy is a must-have application for every person who has to take medication regularly. This digital helper can take some weight off your shoulders by allowing you to set reminders for all kinds of medications, measurements and activities. I am going to present you a list of strong points of this application and explain why, in my opinion, it is one of the best reminder apps I have ever used.

  1. If you are looking for an application that can connect you with your doctor and do all the job of explaining him how successful you are in following the prescription, MyTherapy is a good tool for that. The application allows you to share reports with your physician. These reports are handy because they visualize the progress in your treatment which makes it easier for the doctor to detect any inconsistencies in your medication schedule. He can also decide if the dosage of your medication needs some correction, because all the measurements and symptoms can be entered and saved, making it easier for your doctor to understand the effect of the given medication portion.
  1. MyTherapy is an application that is incredibly easy and convenient to use. After registering and entering your personal data, you can create a list of all the medications you take throughout the day. If the medicament is not in the database, you can enter the data manually, thus saving all the necessary information about the medicament and creating a reminder. There is a long list of symptoms and activities that you can choose from when you are to report in detail how you feel and what you do during a day. You can also be reminded to describe how you feel after taking a medicament and save this information for later to review with your doctor. Another useful feature is the ability to set reminders for meds that demand a different schedule of intake – every hour, every day or every week. Afterwards, all you need to do is just cross them out as you complete the task, feeling satisfied and happy.

    Screenshot_4

  2. In many applications, the importance of communication between app developers and app users is neglected. However, the creators of MyTherapy seem to be willing to change that, communicating actively with the app users and trying to help in any way to work on the improvement of the app. They are working with us to deliver a product that meets our needs and ensures that all users are satisfied with the results. It is essential to be able to share your opinion and, in some cases, criticism with the people responsible for the usability and functionality of the app.

There was just one little drawback that I encountered while using the app. The list of medicaments that I could choose from was very short and I had to type all the information manually. Scanning the barcodes of the meds didn’t help, because all the medicines I take were not available in the database. It is just a minor flaw but it was a bit frustrating because the list of the pills I am taking is pretty impressive and not a single one could be scanned. Fortunately, this little thing doesn’t have a bad influence on the overall performance of the application, because once you are done with entering the data, you can relax while the app is working its magic.

Conclusion

All in all, I would say that this application is great. If you use it, you don’t have to be afraid to miss a single pill anymore. It takes all your medications and overall health data under control and helps you stay organized to help regulate potential health problems. The application does its job in simplifying complex medication schedules and taking your mind off from constant control over your health maintenance. This very sophisticated reminder has everything that a person with a chronic condition needs to maintain his health and lifestyle on the habitual level.

The application is free to download on the App Store or Google Play.

Evgeniya Jung, a digital nomad, studied at the department of International Relations in Russia. She moved to Switzerland two years ago and since then she has been travelling and working on improvement of her German skills. She has particular interest in digital healthcare due to having Type 1 Diabetes, which gained her vast experience with the health care systems in different countries.

Pictures: zVg by MyTherapy / http://www.smartpatient.eu/de/

Dependence on digital technology to improve personal health is a growing phenomenon.

Is there an app for that?

Last winter, I came down with a burning fever and spent the weekend drifting in and out of a self-medicated stupor. I don’t remember much of those two days, except the fifteen minutes I had spent downloading apps that promised to accurately take body temperature (if you place your finger on the smartphone’s camera).
With the market exploding with smartphone apps that suggest and advise on personal wellbeing by collecting and analyzing your data, there is now an app for almost everything related to personal health: from monitoring sleep cycles, moderating food intake, planning exercise regimes, to tracking ovulation cycles. Judging from the overwhelming focus on fitness digital products and wearables at CES 2016, this is only set to increase.

People now know their bodies better and are well equipped to make informed health choices based on their personal data. This personally collected data can additionally help doctors treat their patients better, with an accurate medical and health history available for easy download.
The entry of digital technology in healthcare fundamentally has the potential to reshape the way we approach personal healthcare (i.e. Predict-and-Prevent model versus Break-Fix) and increase the efficiency of healthcare delivery by nipping common illnesses in the bud before they are fully-blown, easing the workloads of overworked doctors in overcrowded hospitals.

Digital health data often overlooked

However, this true potential of personal digital healthcare remains unrealized. While going digital has made strides in informing lifestyle choices, the health data collected continues to be fragmented at best, and is often not incorporated in the patient diagnosis process. In fact, 42 percent of polled consumers using digital health data say their data often goes nowhere. Although most of the consumers are willing to share this data with their doctors, the uptake by medical health practitioners remains lower in comparison.
Doctors want to receive their patients’ health data feeds and do recognize the meaningfulness of such data in informing their diagnoses. But the lack of tools to unify and transform this data to inform smart medical decisions has halted their uptake.
The true potential of personal digital healthcare it seems, will only be realized when going digital shifts from just fitness and lifestyle to the establishment of an integrated digital environment that securely connects patients (and their data) with doctors at all stages of the medical process (diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment).

The future of healthcare

So what would a fully integrated digital healthcare environment look like?Wearable technology tracks accurate and long-term medical and fitness history (including measuring body temperature). This personal health data is automatically uploaded into a cloud, which is accessible by medical professionals. For minor illnesses, doctors are able to diagnose quickly and provide a treatment plan for the patient virtually, and arrange for medicine to be sent home (paid for via internet payment gateways). This leaves doctors with more time to focus on treating major illnesses that require a face-to-face interaction.

A major issue that needs to be tackled before integration can effectively take place is that of data privacy and security. It is one thing to share information about your sleep cycles with your mates, and quite another to share sensitive medical data (e.g. your DNA sequence) about your body to a cloud. In Switzerland, people are already uncomfortable about the national transport system retaining data of their daily commutes on the trains. It is then needless to say a fully integrated digital healthcare environment will take a lot of getting used to.

There are naysayers who also fear an overreliance on digital technology in healthcare can have devastating consequences. Like an elderly woman who does not take her regular medication because her notification app did not alert her to, as an example.

Ready or not

It is undeniable that the digital disruption in healthcare is underway. Judging from the current speed of innovation we are facing these days, a fully integrated digital healthcare environment may not be so far away in the making. Ultimately, the digital transformation will herald a new era in patient healthcare and personal wellbeing.

Aisha Schnellmann is a Singaporean native who spent four years recently working with an international philanthropic foundation. A sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore, she was as often at the floating villages of Cambodia conversing with beneficiaries, and the boardrooms of multi-national companies, speaking with executives and donors.
Currently based in Zurich, her interest in digital healthcare grew from the conversations she had with
committed medical staff in rural hospitals in Asia, who remain hard-pressed with the technology available to them.

Moodpicture: http://cohesivethinking.com/2014/06/11/digital-healthcare-marketing/

As a person who has had diabetes for 17 years, I am convinced that there is a way for people with this disease to live a happy and healthy life. However, we have to learn how to manage the disease in order to enjoy our time with family and friends.  Supervision of diabetes might seem hard, but, luckily for us, we have advanced smartphone technologies at our disposal.  There is plenty of different applications that help people with diabetes control the level of glucose in blood, set reminders for medication and doctor appointments or get information about healthy products.  I will share my experience with two popular applications – Glucose Buddy and Mysugr – in this blog post.

Glucose buddy

I have always been searching for an application that is functional and does not require additional apps in order to be able to control diabetes.  If you are searching for the same and you stumbled upon Glucose Buddy – you can keep searching further. This application certainly doesn’t live up to my expectations.

1_GB_Dashboard  The first thing that catches the eye immediately after opening the main page is the poor interface of the program. It seems as if the developers of the app did not put any effort into its layout and design.  It just looks bleak and boring. But nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance to prove itself as an effective tool in dealing with diabetes. After I have tested it, my worst fears were justified: The application was not of any use to me. I have encountered so many complications while using it, that I was really happy to delete it after testing. The most significant drawback was the inconvenience of data entry. I had to create an individual log for every product that I ate, for any kind of activity that I did and for every medication that I took (which may sound easy, but try spending the whole evening typing in every piece of bread you ate and you will understand me). I can’t even start explaining how hard it is to analyse all the data afterwards! After you are finished with creating thousands of new logs, you end up with a mixture of stuff showing what you did or ate throughout the day on one single log page without any order. You also don’t have an opportunity to edit the logs and the only possib ility to analyse the data is with graphs.

1_GB_Log_2

But the graphs are another sad story. First of all, the numbers on the graph are so small that it is impossible to see anything at all (considering that diabetics often have eye sight problems, this is something that is impossible to ignore). The option of zooming in and out is not available. Secondly, the graph does not show the exact time when I had high or low blood glucose levels. This information is kept on the log list, but only the information from the graph can be sent to the doctor. In that case, how can a doctor help you regulate your insulin dosage if he doesn’t even know when problems with hyper- or hypoglycemia occured? It would be more convenient to show the data with the time references because that helps patients and doctors understand how blood glucose functions during the day and help manage insulin dosage according to time.

Mysugr companion

If you like cute little monsters then you sure need to download Mysugr companion! But seriously, it is not only about the diabetes monster but about the program`s interface that I really enjoyed. I give this app 5 out of 5 points just because it doesn’t make me feel like a totally sick person when I am using it. The goal of the whole game is to tame the giggling diabetes monster by creating new logs for each day, filling out information about your diabetes measurements that you took throughout the day and receiving points for them.

2_Mysugr_1   2_Mysugr_2The first positive thing I noticed was that when you enter a blood glucose level, it indicates if it is too high or too low by marking it with an appropriate colour, so I could immediately see that something is wrong with my glucose level. The coloring is also used in the chart, so I can define if I have problems with glucose throughout a day, a week or a whole month.  In general, the application is very easy and entertaining to use.

It can be particularly helpful for children with diabetes type 1 because the app encourages them through different funny challenges to develop the habit of measuring blood glucose and learning how to take diabetes under control from the very early age.

A second useful characteristic that I have noticed was that you can take pictures of the meals, add them to a log and connect them with a specific location (which can be useful when you are going to a restaurant, for instance, and want to review later what you have eaten). This option is available free of charge for the first two weeks, later you have to go Pro for about 3 euros a month (which is a fair price for access to all the options that this app has to offer). The Pro version also has some extremely useful features, for example an insulin dosage calculator. It is very convenient for people who just got sick with diabetes and do not know yet how to calculate it correctly. I was genuinely amazed at how easy it was to use this application, how easy to enter and review the data, when you have all the information on one single page right in front of you. You can edit it as many times as you want and write down a detailed list of your activities and feelings that you can later review with your doctor. The application encourages you to type in every single detail, to plan every meal in advance, and that is exactly what helps bring diabetes under control: self discipline.

Conclusion

I reviewed two applications that aim to provide the essentials for diabetics. As you can see, they show different levels of usability. After testing Glucose Buddy for eight days, I came to realisation that my blood glucose levels were not better controlled than before I started to use the application. This fact proved the point that the application is ineffective in managing diabetes due to its failure to provide users with a convenient interface and with the good data analyses. Mysugr, on the contrary, has plenty of helpful options, is nice to use and it can easily fulfil its task as a diabetes helper. I am convinced that Mysugr can help diabetics improve the quality of their lives significantly.

Evgeniya Jung, a digital nomad, studied at the department of International Relations in Russia. She moved to Switzerland two years ago and since then she has been travelling and working on improvement of her German skills. She has particular interest in digital healthcare due to having Type 1 Diabetes, which gained her vast experience with the health care systems in different countries.

Mood picture: http://www.theatlantic.com/sponsored/ibm-transformation-of-business-part-2/diabetes-in-the-digital-age/562/