Partners HealthCare app helps healthcare startups better understand patient and provider needs

Dr Joseph Kvedar

Recently, a number of large companies, including Apple, Samsung, and Google, have launched digital health-focused products and services. While this entry into the digital health space has generated a lot of excitement, even exuberance, from the community, Joseph Kvedar, director of the Center for Connected Health, points out that it may be irrational.

When Kvedar spoke at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC, he quoted essayist George Santayana, who once said that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

“So let’s think, how is HealthKit going to be different from Google Health, where Google offered us to put our health information on the web and nobody really used it,” Kvedar said. “Or Samsung is in its third generation of its mHealth app. There’s not a lot of adoption there. And Aetna, which caused a stir at that same meeting a few years ago to announce CarePass, the took it out of service in August because there wasn’t ‘ “There’s not a lot of activity there. People are now waiting for the smartwatch and maybe this will solve the problem? But we’ll see.”

Although Kvedar is critical of the space, his organization, the Center for Connected Health, which is a division of Partners HealthCare in Boston, is taking steps to answer these questions. The center today announced a research tool, called cHealth Compass, which aims to help device makers, startups and investors understand what consumers expect and how they want to use digital health technologies.

The cHealth Compass program, led by Kamal Jethwani, the Center’s head of research and innovation, is a mobile offering that will develop personalized surveys for a panel of US adult healthcare consumers, patients, caregivers and health professionals. other health professionals. Surveys, sent to participants each month, will explore how different factors influence health behaviors, severity of medical conditions, lifestyle change and technology adoption.

On behalf of digital health device and service providers, the Center will also invite its panel members to participate in various studies on particular products. Depending on the company’s goals, participants may be asked to conduct group discussions, individual interviews, or in-person usability testing and feedback.

One question that could be explored further with the cHealth Compass service is how best to engage patients and consumers with healthcare professionals on mobile devices.

“When people think of mobile, that’s what they think of: companies like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, where you go from nothing, a few kids, to an $8-10 billion valuation in a few years” , Kvedar said. during his keynote address at the event this week. “Can we do that in healthcare too? Well, I don’t think it’s that easy. This strategy of finding something that’s deeply personal, like communicating or sharing photos or whatever. ‘other, and letting it go viral, it’s not that easy. The typical enforcement strategy here probably isn’t going to help us in healthcare.”

In a statement, Kvedar pointed out that the Center for Connected Health has a unique advantage, operating within the Partners HealthCare network, which gives them access to the many providers and patients of the larger health system. And, at the event, Kvedar added that now is a critical time for companies to do the groundwork to develop health apps that consumers actually adopt and use.

“This idea of ​​designing Snapchat and WhatsApp isn’t going to be that simple in healthcare, so try to find your seatbelt, we still have a little work to do,” he said. “But, if you don’t get it right, we’re going to have another tech bubble, and believe me, it’s an opportunity that, right now, healthcare can’t afford to miss. We have to do things.”

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