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Apple Is Making a Mistake Acquiring Gliimpse

Posted on August 24, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The big news this week was that Apple has acquired PHR vendor Gliimpse. This was supposedly the first acquisition by Apple’s new Digital Health team. Plus, it’s the first big news since Tim Cook commented that Apple’s opportunity in healthcare “may even make the smartphone market look small.”

Many are touting this as a the start of the move by Apple into healthcare. No doubt it’s interesting that Apple would make a vertical acquisition like this, but it’s a mistake. Unfortunately, it’s a mistake that Apple is likely to do over and over again.

Apple certainly was and in many respects still is in a unique position to be able to innovate in healthcare thanks to its massive iPhone user population. They really could do some interesting things in healthcare since so many people have iPhones and so many healthcare companies want to say they’re working with Apple. The problem is that Apple doesn’t understand healthcare.

If you think this is a small thing, you’ve probably never tried to do a healthcare startup company. Healthcare is a unique market and requires a unique understanding to be successful. All the bravado in the world will only get you so far in the world of healthcare. Then, the harsh realities set in and you realize that the current against you is a lot stronger than you first realized.

Let’s take the example of the PHR Gliimpse (and generalizing to any PHR). This is a hard market with very little consumer demand. That’s been proven over and over again by hundreds of companies who have tried. The harsh reality is that most patients don’t care enough about their health to want to aggregate their health record. It’s worth noting that aggregating your health record is hard work. I even know one company that is paying doctors to send them health records and even then it’s hard to get doctors to act. Plus, there’s little value to healthy patients if they actually did aggregate their record. This is a tough, tough business.

Certainly, a case can be made for chronic patients that it’s worth the effort to aggregate this data into a PHR. Many have been doing this out of necessity. It was happening before cell phones became ubiquitous as people carried around massive folders or binders with their health records. While this value is understood, this makes for an extremely small market. When did Apple last do good in a small market? Is Apple going to really give up iPhone real estate when only a small portion of their users can actually get value from the PHR?

It’s great to have Apple interested in healthcare. However, I think the acquisition of a PHR company is a mistake and won’t yield them the rewards in healthcare that they seek. Of course, when you have a few billion to spend, what’s a few million on a PHR company? No doubt it’s a really small bet by Apple, but one that I don’t think will pay off for them. At least now they’ll have some people with health experience on the team and maybe they can innovate something new.

Interoperability, Clinical Data, and The Greatest Generation

Posted on February 21, 2013 I Written By

Mandi Bishop is a hardcore health data geek with a Master's in English and a passion for big data analytics, which she brings to her role as Dell Health’s Analytics Solutions Lead. She fell in love with her PCjr at 9 when she learned to program in BASIC. Individual accountability zealot, patient engagement advocate, innovation lover and ceaseless dreamer. Relentless in pursuit of answers to the question: "How do we GET there from here?" More byte-sized commentary on Twitter: @MandiBPro.

As a healthcare IT zealot and wanna-be policy wonk, I find myself mired in acronyms, and surrounded (and indulged) by those who understand my rapid-fire Klingon-esque rants on BETOS and LOINC and HCPCS. The larger concepts of interoperability and meaningful use lose the forest for the trees of IHE standard definitions and specific quality measures. Have we lost sight of the vast majority of the healthcare consumers, and their level of understanding and awareness of those larger concepts? Could you explain HL7 ORUs or CCDs to your great-grandma?

I recently visited my 90 year-old grandparents, both remarkably healthy multiple cancer survivors who show no signs of slowing down, and have maintained enough mobility to continue bowling 3 times a week. After an evening of pinochle, my grandma asked me to please help her understand what it is that I DO for a living. We’ve had this conversation before.

“I’m a healthcare technology consultant, Grandma. I work with insurance companies and doctors to help them get all your information.”

Puzzled look.

“When you go to the doctor, Grandma, do they write anything down on paper, or are they using a computer when they talk to you?”

“Oh, they’re always on those computers! Tap-tap-tap. Every question I answer and they tap-tap-tap.”

She illustrates by typing on her lap, and I confirm that she’s a hunt-and-peck person. She stops only after I finish asking my next question.

“Do you have private insurance, or do you use the VA?”

“I have Blue Cross. Your grandpa uses the VA.”

“How many doctors did you have to see for your blood infection?”

“FOUR! Sometimes two in one day!”

“Did they all have to ask you for your history?”

“No – they already had it, on their computer. They even knew about my mastectomy, 30 years ago. One corrected me on the date; I’d thought it was only 20 years ago.”

“Well, Grandma, when you booked your appointment with the first doctor, their computer system automatically requested your medical records from your insurance company. And the insurance company automatically sent your records back to the computer. After the first doctor made notes on your visit, just after you walked out the door, the computer sent an updated copy of your medical records back to the insurance company, and it ordered the lab tests you needed before you went to the next doctor. Then, the lab automatically sent your results to the insurance company AND the doctor who ordered the tests.”

“But the other doctors had the test results.”

“Yes, ma’am. Each time you made an appointment with a new doctor, that doctor’s computer requested your medical records from the insurance company, and the insurance company sent out the most recently updated information. It only takes a minute!”

“Goodness. So, do you build the computer programs that make all that work?”

Eyes wide. THIS impresses her.

“No.”

Puzzled look again, so I quickly continue.

“But I make sure those computer programs can talk to each other, and that the insurance company can make sense out of what they’re saying.”

“Because if they couldn’t talk to each other, I’d have to haul a suitcase from doctor to doctor with my chart?”

“Yes, ma’am. That’s called ‘interoperability’. There are new rules for how doctors’ computers should talk to each other, and to the insurance companies. And I get to work with the insurance company to do other really cool stuff. I take a look at LOTS of people’s medical records to find patterns that might help us catch diseases before they happen.”

“And what’s that called?”

“Clinical informatics. It’s my favorite thing to do, because I get to study lots and lots and LOTS of information. That’s called ‘big data’.”

“Sweetheart, you lost me with the computer words. But I’m just so happy you’re happy!”

She hugs me and grins, and I finally feel like I’ve found the right way to talk about my passion: through use cases. Although, Grandma would call them stories.

And there you have it: the importance of interoperability and clinical data, through the eyes of The Greatest Generation. Check in next year for an update on whether my definitions stuck!

Compelling Case for Personal Health Records (PHR)

Posted on March 4, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently read an article (which I can’t find now) that said, We don’t log in to check our health data as much as we do our financial data. This was a pretty interesting statement considering a few days back I posted this tweet about PHR and being an active patient:

Figuring out the right motivation for someone to use a PHR has been something that’s been on my mind for quite a while. You may remember my post about requesting an appointment and sending your medical record using a PHR where I was asking some similar questions.

There’s certainly a place for software that connects patients with their doctors for things like scheduling an appointment, paying their bills, requesting prescription refills, and even doing e-visits. In fact, one of my advertisers recently launched an enterprise patient portal that has these types of features (check out this video which describes their feature set).

There’s no arguing that these types of connections to doctors are valued and something that patients would love to have. Many doctors are still on the fence about them, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing more and more of these types of services over time. However, while being really great features they still don’t solve the problem of a healthy patient wanting to log in to this portal regularly.

I think one game changer when it comes to PHR will likely be around an emerging set of devices which track our health. For example, over on Smart Phone Healthcare I recently wrote about Tracking Fitness and Activity Levels on Your Smartphone. These devices will track your steps, calories, heart rate, and sleep data and upload it to a centralized location where you can see all that data and watch your fitness and activity levels change over time. Plus, I believe we’re just getting started with collecting this type of data. You can easily see this moving to blood sugar levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.

Now imagine that all of this data was available in your PHR. This type of data would be constantly updated and seeing the graphs of this health data over time is something that I’d login to check as much as I do my financial data.

Previously, I’d always been a bit down on these types of tracking devices. I’ve argued that we’re missing that link for doctors to be able to do something with the data that patients are collecting. I still think this is the case, but just because your doctor might not use the data a patient collects doesn’t mean it can’t be valuable to the patient to collect and see that data regularly. Plus, once EHR software and doctors are ready to digest the data, you’ll be ready as well.