Chronic Pain Has No Provincial Boundary So Why Do Resources?

When I first moved from the west coast, people on the east coast invariably responded with “why on earth would you leave the ocean and mountains” or “ah, the crunchy granola, laid-back west coasters”.  People from the west coast invariably responded with “why on earth would you leave the ocean and mountains” or “ah, the cold and distant east coasters”.

Leaving the ocean and mountains aside for the moment … because I can always go back and visit … what struck me was the characterization of the people from the different coasts of Canada. I can’t say there isn’t something to the judgmental comments. However, it seems to me such an incomplete and superficial assessment.

Until I went looking for a chronic pain resource …

Whether it’s looking for information, support, how to get involved, or additional resources, what you get depends on where you look, but it shouldn’t depend on where you live. At least, not in Canada.

Take a look at these chronic pain sites: pain.bc and ontariopainfoundation.ca to see what I’m getting at.

When I evaluate a resource, I ask three things. Is it Approachable? Is it Appropriate? Is it Adaptable? What I’m really asking is: Is it Patient-friendly, Useful, and Usable?

Is It Approachable / Patient-friendly?

Let’s be honest, first impressions are important. The home page for pain.bc has a photo of a person and the caption “Changing Pain. Changing Minds.” Right off the bat, I’m engaged.

The ontariopainfoundation.ca home page has its name, a logo I can’t understand, and begins with information about migraine headaches. There is a caption which reads “Helping Canada Conquer Pain” which is good except the font is so small it is completely lost. Right off the bat, I’m wondering if I’m at the right place.

Is It Appropriate / Useful?

The pain.bc site is crisp. It is clear. There is no doubt that there are three options: For those in chronic pain, For healthcare providers, and Get involved. When I select the option for me (For those in chronic pain), the information is appropriate: self-management, support groups, and recommended resources.

As for the ontariopainfoundation.ca site, top level options include: About, Mission, Events, Board of Directors, Advisory Council, and Contact. Scrolling after migraine headaches, there are several small options which may be of interest. However, the information consists of a few short paragraphs including description, onset, and typical treatment options. I already know this about my disease and I still have no information on chronic pain.

Is It Adaptable / Usable?

The pain.bc site looks to be a resource geared equally towards patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. The ontariopainfoundation.ca site is both poorly organized and unevenly populated with information.

Overall, from the graphic on the home page, to the ease with which you can find a variety of information, to the completeness of that information, to the language used, one thing is clear: I would recommend only the pain.bc site.

So, it got me thinking: Was there something to the provincial characterization after all?

No question, when I first moved here, I found east coasters cooler, a little distant even. And, no question, west coasters seem a lot more laid-back in comparison. Are the apparent different mindsets responsible for the vastly different characteristics of these sites?

Then I gave my head a shake.

Going down that road wasn’t going to answer my original question, because it’s not about the differences. It’s about the similarities.

We need resources for chronic pain. Do we need a resource for chronic pain in each province? How different is chronic pain in each province?

The question I want people to be asking is: Are the currently available resources receiving funding? Then, I would ask: What is the basis for receiving funding for such a resource?

We should get the best site to use; not just the one that our province provides. Remember, chronic pain doesn’t give a rat’s ass about which province you live in.

So, it doesn’t matter where I used to live or where I live now. One thing is for certain: I’ll use the chronic pain site from the west coast because it’s the best resource. So should you.

Hackathons: More Than a Spectator Event

This article originally appeared in Healthcare Information Management & Communications Canada

In just a few short years the Hacking Health hackathon has become a fixture at the annual Canadian eHealth conference.  While many eHealth attendees find the pitches and solution presentations highly entertaining (particularly with the high-energy Hacking Health co-founder Luc Sirois as the master of ceremonies), these hackathons are more than a spectator event … they are an opportunity for attendees to share their experience and expertise to make a difference.

Hacking Health held its first hackathon five years ago in Montreal.  Since then, Hacking Health has grown to 45 active chapters around the world.  In 2016, these local chapters organized and hosted 161 events including 28 hackathons.

I was initially skeptical of the value of hackathons.  In a December 2013 Technology for Doctors commentary, I noted that “for all the good intentions of those involved, I am not yet sold on the value of hackathons for the Canadian healthcare system, at least as they are currently constituted.”

I was reminded of my initial reticence when I attended the first Ottawa health hackathon in April.   While I must confess that I am not a fan of the over-the-top enthusiasm reminiscent of a multi-level marketing event that seems to be the hallmark of Hacking Health events, I enjoyed the opening night pitches until I noticed the Hacking Health tagline emblazoned on an organizer’s t-shirt:

“Bringing Innovation to Healthcare”

I have an almost allergic reaction whenever the word “innovation” is mentioned.   It has become an over-used word that is quickly losing any sense of real meaning.  As I proclaimed in my “Innovation Rant” at eHealth 2014, I am aghast that a word once reserved to herald inventions such as the personal computer, the cell phone and the Internet has been reduced to a marketing buzzword used to describe products as banal as peanut butter pop-tarts.

Equally troubling, is the “element of hubris to medical hackathons” described by Brian Palmer, Chief Explainer for Slate.  In an April 2014 article entitled “Are Hackathons the Future of Medical Innovation,” Mr. Palmer notes that there are many problems that experts around the world have been trying to solve for years and that there is no shortage of ideas for how best to address them.

If we consider the advances in medical sciences, it is hard not to think of the health sector as innovative. A March 2015 McLean’s article noted that “recent innovations in modern medicine are nothing short of miraculous,” citing kidney transplants performed with minimal surgical invasion via robots and prosthetic eyes that give partial sight to the blind as but two examples.

Yet, the same McLean’s article also observes that “despite advancements in the OR, something as simple as locating the right equipment, or the right doctor, can often leave hospital staff feeling like they’re stuck playing a game of hide-and-seek.”

A similar theme can be found in many of my wife’s blog posts on the patient experience.   Writing about wait times, Tracy (aka The Madness Maven) cites the impact that simple changes can make. For example, a screen that displays a patient’s first name and the number of minutes until they can be seen can have a dramatic impact on the patient experience and, she suspects, the organization’s bottom line.

So, while the Hacking Health vision is certainly ambitious and perhaps even a bit audacious, it makes more sense if innovation is viewed not as an outcome but as a means to an end.

Scott Anthony, author of “The Little Black Book of Innovation”, offers a simple definition of this outcome – “something different that has impact.” These impacts need not be momentous or life changing but, like the screen showing the current wait mentioned in Tracy’s blog post, are felt and appreciated by those to whom they matter.

When viewed from this perspective, the role of Hacking Health in driving change in the health sector is much clearer.  Quite simply, Hacking Health creates opportunities for people who might not otherwise collaborate to tackle healthcare challenges not easily addressed within the walls of any one organization.

The power of the collaborations that Hacking Health seeks to promote is enhanced by the diversity of the participants’ skills and experiences. While media attention of the recent Ottawa hackathon focused on developers, designers, and physicians (and ignored other groups such as patients), the collaborative process that Hacking Health promotes thrives on diversity.

This year Hacking Health is collaborating with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to tackle workplace mental health and wellbeing at the eHealth 2017 hackathon.

The eHealth hackathon offers a unique opportunity for everyone attending the show to participate in the hackathon process.  I encourage everyone to spend an hour during the conference visiting the various teams as they develop their solutions.

Be more than spectator. Ask the teams what they are trying to achieve.  Offer your feedback.   Share your experiences.  You might just have the insight they need to make a breakthrough.  You might also learn something new that you can apply in your own organization.

You can check out  Tracy’s blog at themadnessmaven.ca

What is Best for the Patient?

First published in Healthcare Information and Communications Canada:

A little over two years ago I took a left hand turn in my career path when I joined a regional EHR program as their Project Manager. Having written and spoken about interoperability and digital health solutions, I wanted to “put my money where my mouth is” so to speak and devote my time and talent to realizing the vision that I so often advocated.

I am fortunate to be working with a dedicated group of people committed to making a difference for patients in Ontario. Whenever we are faced with a di cult situation or are choosing from what appear to be similar options, at least one member of the team always asks, “What is best for the patient?”

My wife is one of these patients.

Diagnosed about ten years ago with a chronic illness, Tracy recently embarked on a new journey to speak for those whose voices are not quite loud enough and to provide perspective to those who want to listen.

A talented writer, Tracy uses her blog to share her own experiences engaging the health system, offers insights on the view from the other end of the stethoscope (or, of interest to readers of this magazine, healthcare apps) and, from time to time, advocates for change.

Tracy has discovered, to her dismay, what others such as the McMaster Health Forum have observed: the patient is often not at the centre of care.

In a brief prepared to stimulate discussions by a citizen panel on strengthening care for people with chronic diseases in Ontario, the McMaster Health Forum notes:

“Health professionals don’t always work together to get people the care they need, despite this being important for improving patients’ outcomes.”

A briefing note prepared by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) on variations in quality indicators across Ontario physician networks offers a similar perspective:

“Patients living with chronic disease have the best outcomes when they are treated throughout the progression of their disease, in a coordinated manner that engages all medical professionals involved in their care. However, in Ontario there has been a history of fragmentation of chronic disease care, leading to serious gaps.”

According to the McMaster Health Forum brief, access to their own health information can “help patients set goals for their health, manage their own care and better engage in decisions about their care with their providers.”

Unfortunately, the same brief also notes that there is “a lack of electronic health records that put all of a patient’s health information in one place” and, as a result, “patients also do not typically have access to their health information.”

As Internet pioneers and founding executives of several Internet start-ups (different companies before we met), Tracy and I both witnessed the creativity and innovation that was unleashed when entrepreneurs were given access to a platform (in this case, the Internet) on which to construct new applications and services

The banks recognize this same potential and are creating similar environments

to encourage innovation in financial services. Scotia Bank, for example, created the Digital Factory which they describe as a “hub for creation and incubation of new and partner-led ideas to deliver game-changing solutions for Scotiabank customers.”

Can the health system take a similar approach to encourage the development of applications and services to manage their own care and more e ectively engage their healthcare providers? Mohawk College and eHealth Ontario think so. They have partnered to create the eHealth Ontario Innovation Lab, an online, open provincial EHR platform that allows testing of digital health solutions in a virtual EHR environment.

Operationally and physically isolated from eHealth Ontario’s production environments, the Innovation Lab’s Virtual Lab Environment contains copies of eHealth Ontario EHR test environment assets and a fabricated, integrated EHR data set. These assets currently include the Ontario provincial client registry and the Ontario Lab Information System (OLIS), with the Ontario provider registry soon to be available.

Whether the eHealth Ontario Innovation Lab generates new and useful digital health solutions remains to be seen. At the very least, it provides developers with access to the provincial systems in which patient information is stored, information that patients can use to manage their own care and more effectively engage healthcare providers.

I recently shared Tracy’s blog with a friend of mine. He commented, with a wry smile, that we must have very interesting dinnertime conversations. We do. She inspires me each and every day to do what is best for the patient.

You can at themadnessmaven.ca

Who’s afraid of bots?

My Dad is the classic late adopter.He waits until a technology is mainstream and nearly everyone around him is using it before he adopts. Giventhat he now owns and uses a computer, an iPad and, most recently, an iPhone, I have started to wonder what computing technology will emerge that is equally transformative.

A recent Business Insider article claims that the computer industry moves in waves, with a “convergence of favorable economics and technical advances” driving a new wave every 10 to 15 years. I witnessed three of these waves, starting with what the Business Insider article refers to as the “PC revolution” in the 1980’s. This revolution spawned companies such as Apple and Microsoft and challenged established computer companies such as IBM.

The second wave of technological change began in 1990’s when the Internet moved from the universities and research institutes into the mainstream. Fueled by an established base of personal computers and the advent of the world wide web, Internet use exploded during the late 1990’s. This ubiquitous and inexpensive communications platform disrupted many industries, particularly those that relied on physical media that could be easily digitized or physical points of presence for the distribution of goods and services.

Over the past decade advances in miniaturization and wireless communication technologies transformed computing and Internet access from activities that could only take place in select locations to ones that take place anywhere, anytime. This third wave of computing, one often referred to as the “mobile revolution”, has quickly become an integral part of our lives.

The next wave of computing will take advantage of the infrastructure established during the first three waves along with the large, established base of users who, like my Dad, own at least one computing device and who access the Internet through these devices on a daily basis.

According to Vinod Khosla, Sun Microsystems co-founder, “there have been and will continue to be multiple big technology revolutions, but the most impactful on human society may be the one that finally builds systems with judgment and decision-making capability more sophisticated and nuanced than trained human judgment.”

While Mr. Khosla conceded in a November 2014 Forbes editorial that “any one software program may not do everything a human brain can do, he asserts:

“Specialized programs will likely makedecisions and predictions in their domain better than most trained humans. Many, if not most, domains will be well covered bysuch programs.”

Dr. Bertalan Mesko, the Medical Futurist, offers a similar perspective in a recent blog post, noting that while “we have not yet reached the state of ‘real’ AI (artificial intelligence)” … it is ready to sneak into our lives without any great announcement or fanfare.”

As an example of what is possible, Dr. Mesko cites a British application that helps people appeal parking tickets. This application successfully appealed 64% of quarter million parking tickets in both London and New York.

No one term seems to have emerged for this next technological wave. Some analystshave referred to it as “machine learning”while others use terms such as “artificial intelligence”. The Business Insider article to which I referred earlier notes that “none of these terms capture how widespread and roundbreaking this revolution will be” and suggests the term “robot revolution” is more appropriate. According to this article, the robot revolution will be “characterized by dozens of devices working on your behalf, invisibly, all the time, to make yourmife more convenient.”

In a blog post on the Medical Futurist website entitled “Artificial Intelligence Will  Redesign Healthcare”, Dr. Bertalan Mesko notes this next wave of computing “could organize patient routes or treatment plans better, and also provide physicians with literally all the information they need to make a good decision.” Several examples cited in the blog post include:

  • Google Deepmind Health project that is using artificial intelligence to mine the data in patient medical records to provide better and faster health services. In its initial phase, Google is working with the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to improve eye treatment.
  • IBM is applying its Watson artificial intelligence technology to identify the most appropriate cancer treatment plans for a patient. Watson for Oncology analyzes the meaning and context of structured and unstructured data in clinical notes and reports, and combines the insight gleaned from this analysis with attributes from the patient’s file as well as clinical expertise and external research.
  • Babylon, a British online medical consultation and health service, launched an application which offers a medical artificial intelligence consultation based on personal medical history and common medical knowledge. The recently launched application checks user reported symptoms against a database of diseases using speech recognition. After taking into account the patient’s history and circumstances, Babylon offers an appropriate course of action.

Not everyone enthusiastically embraces the promise of this next wave of computing. Vinod Khosla suggests that machine learning technologies might surpass humans in both intelligence and knowledge relevant to perform a particular job, thereby rendering human employees unnecessary. Mr. Khosla worries that “the machine learning technology revolution will lead to increasing income disparity, and disparity beyond a certain point will lead to social unrest.”

Others such as noted physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk fear that the artificial intelligence technology will become so sophisticated that it will try to take over our lives. An unabashed technology booster, I must confess that the implications of this next technology wave has given me pause to reconsider my position. Perhaps,as the Medical FuturistS suggests, we need to create ethical standards and consider gradual development of this next technological wave.

Do you agree that the “robot revolution” is the next wave in computing? If so, do you have any concerns about its impact? Please share your thoughts with me at michael.martineau@avenant.ca or on my blog at ehealthmusings.ca

Digital Disruption … Is Healthcare Next?

The following article was recently published in Healthcare Information Management & Communications Canada, the journal for COACH members:

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As many industries have discovered, often painfully, digital technologies can be disruptive.  Just ask Blockbuster, Kodak, or Postmedia.   Is healthcare next?

In a presentation at the 2015 Marketing Transformation Forum, Ronald Velten, Marketing Director, Global Technology Services Europe at IBM Europe, identified three waves of digital disruption.  In the first wave, starting in 1995, the shift from analog to digital content had a profound impact on music, photography, and video rental.  The second wave, which started around 2010, has pushed many traditional media companies (print, radio, and television) to the brink of extinction.

More recently, in a third wave of digital disruption, new entrants, unencumbered by existing business models and legacy systems, are taking advantage of the constantly evolving digital landscape to enter markets previously considered immune from digital disruption. These new entrants are using digital technologies, not as tools to incrementally improve existing processes, but as weapons to disrupt the status quo.

Two examples of industries with perceived barriers to entry that once impeded digital disruption are taxis and financial services.  Like healthcare, these sectors are subject to regulatory compliance and are dominated by well-established players.

That both these sectors are threatened by digital disruption is a warning sign that the health sector should heed. How each of these industries is dealing with the threat offers lessons that the health sector should consider.

Taxis

As recently as five years ago a taxi license was considered a good investment.  Today, the price of these same licenses is in freefall in many cities.  New competitors such as Uber are siphoning customers who once had few alternatives if they needed on-demand transportation services.

Taxis have, for decades, operated in a little-changed regulated environment. A GrowthHackers examination of Uber’s phenomenal and rapid growth notes:

“All told, very few people viewed finding and using taxi service as something enjoyable—it was simply something that they dealt with due to the lack of an alternative. Before Uber you were beholden to an entrenched, monopolistic entity, whose sloppy execution and lack of regard for the customer experience was evident at every touch point.”

A less colourful but equally stark comparison between the taxi incumbents and new entrants such as Uber can be found in a recent survey by Ipsos Reid (conducted for the City of Toronto as part of the city’s review of the taxi industry). The survey revealed that less than one-third (29%) of respondents were satisfied with taxi service while nearly two-thirds (65%) reported that they were satisfied with new market entrant, Uber.

How has the taxi industry and the cities that regulate them reacted to Uber’s entry into the market?  The cities are tinkering with the regulations while the drivers protest.

According to a report by the Mowat Centre as part of the City of Ottawa’s review of taxi and limousine regulations, “Canadian jurisdictions initially adopted a reactive approach to ride-sharing firms, with cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver cracking down on drivers for by-law infractions or otherwise imposing barriers to operation.”

Even when overwhelming consumer demand forced many cities to reconsider their position and introduce regulatory reform, the taxi industry has continued to fight changes to the status quo.

Financial Services

Even the banks are getting nervous about the disruptive power of digital technologies.  According to McKinsey & Company, banks could lose up to 60 per cent of their retail profits to financial technology startups (often referred to as FinTechs).

Toronto-based FundThrough, which operates a business-to-business online lending platform, is one of many emerging Canadian FinTechs. In a Globe and Mail article examining disruption in the financial services sector, Steve Uster, FundThrough’s co-founder and CEO, observes:

“We believe that we are only at the beginning of this trend of startups popping up and filling a hole in financial services by using technology.”

A PwC report examining how Canadian banks are responding to new FinTech market entrants notes that  “Canadian banks will employ parallel strategies that comprise collaborating with and leveraging some FinTechs while innovating to compete with others.”

Why partner with the FinTechs?  Analysts at National Bank Financial asked the same question in a recent report. “Why, we asked ourselves, is the boring but profitable Canadian oligopoly inviting third parties into their most valuable, profitable business line?” to which they responded, “Simply put, we think they are worried … worried that innovators will nip away at, and ultimately fleece, their Golden Geese.”

How will the banks compete? Victor Dodig, chief executive officer at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, proclaimed in a June 2015 speech that” we are responding with nothing less than a top-to-bottom reinvention of ourselves, and the traditional banking model.”

Summary

The third wave of digital disruption will sweep over healthcare just as it is sweeping over the taxi and financial services industries.  Will existing healthcare organizations ride the wave or be sent crashing into the rocks?

In their report entitled The Fight for the Customer: McKinsey Global Banking Annual Review 2015, McKinsey & Company offers a warning I think also applies to the heath sector:

 “Those that do not seek to transform may well become somewhat digitized, but will likely be stuck in the middle – outwardly modern, inwardly struggling, and moving slowly toward extinction.”

What are your thoughts on the digital disruption of healthcare?  Please share your thoughts with me at michael.martineau@avenant.ca or on my blog at ehealthmusings.ca

Ottawa Digital Health Networking Event

On May 18, 2016 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, HIMSS Ontario is hosting a special networking eventing in Ottawa.  My good friend and digital health commentator, William (Bill) Pascal, will open the evening with a presentation on the state of digital health maturity in Canada. After the presentation you will have the opportunity to explore craft beer, wine and food pairings.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity.

Bill is the former Chief Strategic Advisor, Canadian Medical Association and now Principle, Richard Warren & Associates.  He teamed with Roger Girard, former CIO, Manitoba eHealth (and one of my digital health mentors), to prepare the in-depth assessment of digital health maturity in Canada on which his presentation is based.  Roger will be delivering the same presentation at similar networking event hosted by HIMSS Ontario in Toronto on the same evening.

HIMSS members: Free.

Non-members: $45 (includes HIMSS ON membership).

Location: Mill St. Brew Pub, 555 Wellington St. Ottawa (site of the former Mill restaurant).

Registration & cocktails 5:15-5:45

Speaker 5:45-6:45

Beer/wine/food pairings 6:45-7:30

Sponsored by HEALTHTECH

 

Digital Health: What’s Next?

My most recent “Last Words” article published in Health Information Management & Communications Canada magazine:

A good friend and former work colleague often remarks that once you have worked as a market analyst, you will always think like a market analyst. This observation rings particularly true around New Year’s when I feel the irresistible urge to offer my prognostications on what’s next for digital health.

This year, rather than offer specific predictions, I offer an overview of three major drivers that I believe will influence digital health priorities and direction in the near future.

Meaningful Use

In what might turn out to be one of the most significant announcements of 2016, Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), declared:

“The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.”

According to healthIT.gov (a web site operated by the U.S., Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology), Meaningful Use is defined as “using certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and family
  • Improve care coordination, and population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security of patient health information

Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Annual Health Care Conference on January 11, 2016, Mr. Slavitt identified what he referred to as the four “themes guiding our implementation” of a Meaningful Use replacement:

  • Reward healthcare providers for the outcomes they achieve using digital health technologies rather than simply for use of these technologies.
  • Customized goals that allow solutions to be tailored to practice needs. Slavitt stated that “technology must be user-centered and support physicians, not distract them.”
  • Levelling the playing field for start-ups and new entrants. This objective will be achieved by requiring open APIs in order to “move away from the lock that early EHR decisions placed on physician organizations” and thereby “allow apps, analytic tools, and connected technologies to get data in and out of an EHR securely.”
  • Mr. Slavitt proclaimed “we are deadly serious about interoperability” and put technology companies that attempt to “practice ‘data blocking’ in opposition to new regulations” on notice when he stated that such practices “won’t be tolerated.”

Each of these themes reflects issues and challenges that have hampered the effective use of digital health technologies by both healthcare providers and the general public.

While the Meaningful Use program does not apply to Canadian healthcare organizations, it did have and its eventual replacement will have a significant influence on the digital health landscape in Canada.

Digital Health Investment

In their year end review for 2015, Rock Health, a venture fund dedicated to digital health, stated that venture funding for digital health companies in 2015 raised $4.5B.  This level of funding was an increase over the record breaking level of digital health investments in 2014 and, according to Rock Health, represents a compound annual growth (CAGR) from 2011-2015 of 32%.

Rock Health noted in their year end review that while “overall venture funding showed a slight dip in 2015, digital health continues to hold a healthy 7% of total venture funding.”  They also remarked that investors continue to show their interest in digital health companies and observed that there is a “growing tail of investors who participated in at least one deal.”

This steady level of funding and growing investor interest leads Rock to declare that “digital health is no longer a novelty.”

Rock Health identified three particular digital health categories that exhibited noticeable growth in funding in 2015: personal health tools and tracking, care coordination, and life sciences technologies.  They commented that “as the industry faces growing pressure to cut costs, digital health will play a key role in enabling engagement with the end-user and improving communication and coordination.

Digital Everywhere

Computing technology, once the nearly exclusive realm of geeks and hobbyists, is now an integral part of everyday life for most people.

According to comScore, a global media measurement and analytics company, an average of 29.4 million Canadians per month accessed some form of on-line service during the fourth quarter of 2014.  Based on Statistics Canada figures, this on-line community represents just over 80% of the Canadian population.

Not only are a majority of Canadians engaging in some form of online activity, comScore notes that they are increasingly doing so across multiple devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The number of Canadian mobile subscribers grew 5% from December 2013 to December 2014, with just over 80% of these subscribers owning a smartphone capable of accessing a variety of online services.

The pervasiveness of digital technology is changing how digital health solutions are perceived by end users.  Neither patients nor health providers need to be enticed to use digital technology; they do so in most other aspect of their lives. They need only be offered digital health solutions that are both useful and usable.

Summary

By clearly communicating its priorities and future direction, CMS is providing investors with insights that will shape their investment decisions.  This investment, if focused more on addressing user needs and less on certifying compliance with meaningful use guidelines, will likely produce digital solutions that end users will embrace and use.

What are your thoughts on digital health trends and drivers?  Please share your thoughts with me at michael.martineau@avenant.ca or on my blog at ehealthmusings.ca