Legacy Health Strategies Industry Perspective – Part 1

November 16, 2016

The Next ‘Big, Big Thing’ in Medical Device Innovation” – by Greg Anton, President & COO

I experienced a number of exciting findings from the recent AdvaMed conference in Minneapolis.  AdvaMed is the leading MedTech conference in North America and brings together over 1,000 companies and almost 3,000 attendees.  As you might expect, the talk was all about innovation.  Industry perspectives ranged from remarkable developments in surgical and diagnostic technology to the compression of innovation due to the looming medical device tax created by the Affordable Care Act.  While the pace of innovation is indeed staggering, the most interesting focus on innovation was not one involving technology, but rather focused on managing patient behavior and increasing patient engagement in their medical care.  As Deloitte Consulting’s Brian Quinn stated, “The next big invention in med tech is not a new device, it’s health behavior management.”

The rationale behind this emergence in patient behavior is clear when you factor in data that illustrates how long patients procrastinate to start their care, the poor adherence to treatment protocols and the increasing hospital readmissions due to non-compliance with discharge regimens. Here are some mind opening data points:

  • Only 50 percent of patients take their medication as prescribed.
  • Non-adherence causes 30-50 percent of treatment failures and over 100,000 deaths annually.
  • Up to 30 percent of prescriptions are never filled by the patient for some classes of medication.
  • 64 percent of hospital readmissions within 30 days are due to treatment non-adherence.
  • When patients are at the highest level of activation, their projected costs were 31 percent lower than for people who were at the lowest levels of activation.
  • 94 percent of online treatment brand searches happen immediately after patient receives treatment prescription.
  • Annual revenue loss due to treatment non-adherence is $188 Billion in the United States and $564 Billion globally.

This data suggests that it’s not the familiar saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” but rather, “you can lead a horse to water, and it will drink when it wants to!”  The med tech and pharmaceutical manufacturing industry are quickly coming to the realization that reliance on patient self-activation and self-engagement in their medical care is not happening, and without assistance, will continue to be a primary cause of continued cliffs in patient care.  This, of course, leads to increased costs to the healthcare system and increasingly unsuccessful treatment outcomes.

We’re all aware of the move from volume-based care to value-based care, as well as the “Triple Aim” of improved outcomes, lower costs and improved patient experience.  While this is a step in the right direction, it is our contention at Legacy Health Strategies that the missing element in this thinking is both patient engagement, as well as patient activation.  Focus on both fronts is essential to successfully realizing the ambitious goal of value-based care.  The key to improvement in these areas is not exclusively technological innovation.

While minimally invasive surgical techniques, advanced diagnostic methodologies, wearables and sensors help, it is imperative that the patient wants to engage and use these devices.  At the conference, James Mault, M.D., F.A.C.S., Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Qualcomm Life, asked the question, “What is holding us back from building a scalable (more than 500K) implementation of a connected health solution?”  He offered five possible reasons: reimbursement, lack of demonstrable outcomes, too much data, liability and patient engagement.  The easiest of these to solve, and the one that is most actionable, is patient engagement.  Dr. Mault asked a rhetorical question as a solution“. . .what if we could only create a business model that builds on the type of engagement we’ve seen with the smart phone?  Can you image the positive impact that will have on population health?”  Recently, we at Legacy even challenged Dr. Eric Topol, author of the “The Creative Destruction of Medicine” and “The Patient Will See You Now” to answer our question, “How can the movement you are creating really take hold with such a dependency on patient self-activation and self-adherence?”