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It’s well known that the consumer products space has seen a revolution in the way innovation is brought to fruition in the last handful of years. Ideas from students, starving artists and entrepreneurial dreamers have been financially backed on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, some leapfrogging the established names to form completely new product categories like the Pebble Smartwatch and Oculus Rift.
But what’s perhaps running a little more under the radar is what’s happening in the point of care testing space. It’s not just other healthcare companies that are looking toward technology to capitalize on the shift from testing exclusively in hospitals and labs to pharmacies and home. In fact, CVS unveiled its Digital Innovation Lab less than a year ago. Brian Tilzer, CVS Health’s chief digital officer, was quoted saying, "we’re going to invent things here that don’t exist anywhere on the planet, things that can be focused on what truly matters: our health. We’re using digital to change health outcomes of millions of Americans." The Digital Innovation Lab is working on leveraging the fact that 85 percent of its customers have a smartphone in tow, which already comes equipped with biometric sensors.
Qualcomm launched a competition a couple years ago to bring healthcare to the palm of patients’ hands. Their ‘Tricorder Xprise” tasked competitors to deliver a device that will accurately diagnose 13 health conditions, which they explain as 12 diseases and the absence of conditions, that can be used independent of a health care worker or facility. We hope to see more in September when they say consumer testing will begin.
AliveCor, a 5 year old startup founded by a physician, has developed Kardia, an FDA-cleared mobile EKG that’s smaller than a credit card and captures a medical-grade EKG in 30 seconds from anywhere. The data can then be sent to a doctor for analysis and diagnosis without ever having to step into a hospital or lab.
Of course a major shift in where testing and care is delivered is posing challenges for designers and manufacturers. The experience for the entire community is key; including, patients, pharmacists, doctors, etc. Electronic health records and security issues still abound, and restrictions on the types of testing allowed in pharmacies, based on the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), limit the type of data that is gathered. Interoperability may come into play if more devices shift to non-traditional points of care. Those embarking on new product development in this space should enter with partners that understand this fast-paced industry and the technologies that are pushing it forward.
Challenges aside, the direction is clear. Many aspects of healthcare are moving away from hospitals, doctors’ offices and labs and toward pharmacies and the home. Are you on board?
Don’t forget to read our latest report, “Trends in Point of Care, following HIMSS and Molecular Tri-med Conference.”