This week has been pretty crazy for me as I’ve been attending three conferences back to back. Plus, the conference in the middle is the 120,000 person CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. The healthcare section of CES has been growing like crazy. Those who had 10×10 booths last year now have 20×20 booths and the number of health IT related companies at CES has grown 20%.
As I’ve been browsing these ever growing booths about consumer health I’ve been smothered in various consumer focused devices. I’ve seen every sort of FDA cleared device including: Blood Pressure Cuffs, Scales, Dermascopes, Otoscopes, Pulse Oximeters, Stethoscopes, and Thermometers. The innovation with these devices is amazing. The integration with these devices and other device is amazing. The price point for these devices is dropping.
With all of this in mind, I’ve wondered why more hospitals aren’t taking a larger interest in what’s happening here. Not to mention why more hospital EHR vendors aren’t integrating with these devices as well. Someone asked me what’s the difference in these devices versus the ones that are being used in healthcare today. The obvious answer is price and brand recognition (trust). Although, they are all FDA cleared devices, so is there really a difference in the results? The FDA clearance process is quite rigorous. I don’t have the full answer to this question, so I’d love to hear from some hospital people and other device manufacturers to hear your view on it.
Maybe the answer is that hospitals are buying the big expensive devices because those are the devices that integrate with their hospital EHR system. If that’s the main reason, then we need more of the major hospital EHR vendors to start doing the medical device integration with these low cost alternatives. Imagine the cost savings.
The other side of the coin is hospitals deploying these devices to the patient. I’ve seen this in a few cases where the hospital wants to reduce readmissions. Although, it’s an interesting dance since it is largely under the purview of the primary care doctor. It’s always felt awkward that the hospital’s readmission issues are dependent on a group of doctors that don’t work in the hospital. Maybe this will change as hospitals buy up more doctors offices.
It’s an exciting time to see the devices coming to healthcare. I just wish I saw more hospitals and hospital EHRs involved in what’s happening. I wonder how many healthcare CIOs are seeing what’s happening and planning for it.
I predict 2013 will be the year of the consumer health device and I don’t think most hospitals or doctors are ready for it.