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National Healthcare Innovation Summit – 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

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Editor’s note: This Q&A post by Karan Singh originally appeared on the HIMSS blog, as part of a series highlighting speakers in the 2015 National Healthcare Innovation Summit. Mr. Singh is speaking at the summit on June 16. View the original article here

Why is innovation crucial for improving the delivery of healthcare and fulfilling the Triple Aim?

Since the 1950s, the majority of innovations in mental health have been largely focused on the development of pharmaceuticals. Drugs that may or not work, but definitely come with a laundry list of side effects.

Karan-Singh

But with 1-in-4 Americans suffering from a mental health illness like depression or anxiety and the cost of developing new drugs now skyrocketing into the stratosphere, the medical community is looking for new ways to understand, manage and treat mental health conditions on both the individual and population levels.

Layer on top of that that fact that people with mental health conditions have shockingly few resources to help them manage conditions on their own, and you have an incredibly strong case for innovation in the mental health space.

Innovation in mental health care stands to advance our understanding of diseases, improve access to desperately needed services, and increase patients’ ability to manage their condition. Our data shows this combination of measurement, access and self-management directly drives results across the Triple Aim.

But it all starts with the patient. If health care providers can engage the right patients with the right information at the right time, outcomes are demonstrated to improve. This requires a new way of thinking about (and delivering) care with the incredible tools we now have at our disposal. We need a new paradigm of care for the Information Age.

To begin, episodic care needs to be replaced with more continuous, responsive care practices. If I need help today, what good is my appointment in three weeks?

Secondly, care teams need to better understand the intricacies of human behavior. Did I miss my medication because it has negative side effects or because Tuesdays are a busy day for me and the kids?

Lastly, we need to leverage the data that’s all around us to make more informed care decisions. How do I know what’s working for my patients unless I use objective and consistent measures across the continuum of care?

The good news is, it’s already happening. These types of innovations are not pie-in-the-sky thinking. They are there for systems to put in place today and measure the impacts tomorrow.

Can you share one example, from your own experience and expertise, where an innovative technique or approach did make a difference in patient care?

One story that sticks in my mind was from a young woman who was going through a particularly difficult time managing her depression and anxiety. Her work was suffering, her family was suffering, even getting out of bed to shower had become too difficult for her to manage. Her psychiatrist and care team were running out of options to help her.

After a few weeks on Ginger.io, she was able to better understand her symptoms and articulate her issues to her psychiatrist. The psychiatrist was also able to objectively measure what was working and wasn’t, and together they narrowed down the meds and dosages that were right for her and established a treatment plan that was both manageable and effective.

Today, she reports that she’s finally getting her life back from the crippling grips of depression and anxiety, and that she is securely on her way to a more active, happy and fulfilling life with her family.

This is a great example, and we get hundreds of similar stories from people writing in to share the positive impact Ginger.io has had in their lives. It’s extremely inspiring, but it’s also very humbling. The fact that we can touch this many lives is a testament to the power of digital mental health programs like Ginger.io. But it’s also a resounding critique of the system in it current state. Quite simply, people are not getting the care they so desperately need. We need to do better as a system and as a society.

To provide a brief preview to your session at the National Healthcare Innovation Summit, can you share up to two insights attendees will learn from your presentation?

In a sentence: The smartphone is the most powerful sensor in health care.

If you think about the smartphone: it’s always on, always near you, and it can be trained to understand a wide array of human behaviors. It’s the ultimate wearable that you already own and use—there is no hardware to buy, no learning curve to overcome, and no disruption to a person’s daily life.

By leveraging this incredibly powerful device that’s already widely deployed in the marketplace, we can engage people in their health in a variety of new and exciting ways:

• Uncovering connections between life and health through deep analytics and simple, actionable insights

• Improving access to healthcare services through remote care monitoring, telemedicine and responsive outreach from providers when a person is in need of help

• Setting people up for success, rather than failure, by giving them access to tools, information and self-management strategies they need to get and stay healthy

• Enabling and encouraging behavior change through smart program design and engaging, consumer-grade experiences

We built Ginger.io on the premise that the smartphone is the most powerful sensor in healthcare, and I’m happy to say that today we’re no longer alone in this thinking.

We’re now joined by Apple, Samsung, Google and whole host of startups who are centering on the smartphone not only as a key portal for patient engagement, but also (and more importantly) as the central means for patient empowerment.

We’re literally putting a person’s health into they’re own hands. And we believe that’s a big step forward.