CES 2019 is in its waning days, and with its end comes a time for reflection. This year’s consumer tech expo boasted no shortage of health and wellness products on display, ranging from novel ECG-equipped wearables to novel approaches to skin care.
Meanwhile, the Digital Health Summit — CES’ sub-event focused exclusively on health technology — celebrated its tenth year at the show with two full days of on-stage roundtables and interviews discussing hospital at home technology, digital therapeutics, healthcare consumerization, mental health management, voice technology and plenty more of the biggest movements poised to impact health technology.
But regardless of whether a discussion was being held by executives on the main stage or between vendors in the expo hall, it was never very long before many of the year’s conversations would turn to the subject of data’s role in healthcare technology.
“We’re going to see about a 1,600-fold increase in data over the next decade, and [we’ve started] to think about what would it mean to really harness this information that’s coming from the clinic, that’s coming from home, that’s coming remotely. And I think even the definition of health data is going to change over the next decade,” Dr. Jess Mega, chief medical and scientific officer at Verily, said during a Digital Health Summit roundtable discussion. “[In healthcare], anything we do, whether it’s a new medication, device, digital therapeutic, we have to prove efficacy and safety. And if we can harness real-world health data — and the 21st Centuries Cure Act is telling us we have to do this — if we harness real-world data, I think we start unlocking innovation.”
CES attendees highlight data plays
On an individual product level, it was just as likely as not that a show floor demo would highlight some aspect of user data aggregation, management or analysis.
Take, for example, NeuroMetrix’s wearable chronic pain management product, Quell 2.0. In explaining the latest features of the recently updated device, CEO Dr. Shai Gozani was keen to stress the copious amount of user data the company had collected throughout the lifespan of its first device. Leveraging that information has helped NeuroMetrix regularly push new updates to Quell’s accompanying app that help users better understand their personal progress as well as fine tune their treatment.
“We now have what we believe is probably the largest chronic pain database in the world, 70,000 people who have contributed to this data, collected now over the three-plus years this product has been available,” Gozani told MobiHealthNews. “One of the realizations was when you start using this product, there’s a lot of automation but there’s also a trial and error to find the right parameters … but with 70,000 people preceding you, we’re able to apply machine learning techniques and now we can match the new user to the database and predict, with pretty good accuracy, the right level for you, the optimal schedule.”
Meanwhile, other wearable manufacturers like Omron and WIthings stressed in their demos similar features that help users better understand and act on their data — in particular, Withings President and cofounder Eric Carreel said that his company was investing in data and mental health specialists alike in an effort to transform Withings’ years of consumer data into new, more effective behavior change strategies.
Speaking to MobiHealthNews, Steven LaBoeuf, president and cofounder of Valencell, described the increasing focus on user and performance data among vendors as a refreshing change from years past, when novel devices would promise major health benefits with little evidence to back up their claim.
For Akili Interactive Labs founder and CEO Eddie Martucci, its the only way for health tech products to gain serious recognition within the rest of the healthcare industry.
“The very first time they touch your digital therapeutic, if you do a quick measurement we can start to have predictive signals where we say, ‘Okay, you’re X percent likely to actually respond to this and we can continue,’ … or ‘Look, based on our data we think you’re unlikely to respond to this,’” Martucci said during an on-stage discussion. “We’re okay with this as a business because what that’s going to lead to is more targeted, high-fidelity treatment for a patient is what we care about. We believe it’s also going to build a better business — treating everyone blanket and having everyone fail is actually not good medicine.”