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Will Payers Lead Digital Health?

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, January 22, 2013

This year's International Consumer Electronics Show featured a healthy dose of healthcare, with United Healthcare one of the biggest exhibitors at CES's Digital Health Summit segment. I spoke with Reed Tuckson, MD, UnitedHealth group executive vice president and chief of medical affairs.

HealthLeaders Media: How disruptive is it for you to be here with this huge booth at CES when we're used to seeing you at something like HIMSS?

Tuckson: I can't tell you how excited I am to be here, because we've just finished releasing in early December the “America's Health Rankings” annual report, and yet again, it shows this really frightening increase in the risk factors that are leading to and also increasing documentation of preventable chronic illness, especially as we look at hypertension and diabetes. I am so tired of the same old tools, the same old strategies and approaches. We have got to bring innovation into this space where we're helping people make better choices and decisions, so being here makes all the sense in the world, because we really are trying to be a part of recruiting an army of innovation in this space.

Now given that you've mentioned that we are also normally at places like HIMSS, we clearly see our value added as being the integrator—being able to connect the guidance, the tools, and the data flows that come from the individual digital health world as consumers into a more holistic, integrated, interoperable database. That connects with the delivery system that connects with the care management, care coordination, and takes all of that experience, that data, that feedback, and then continues to refresh and refine personal identification of risk and closing gaps in medical care. So the more that we take the data from the different places, pull it, stitch it together, reanalyze it, and then repump it back out again in ever-more precise, more meaningful, more actionable chances for individuals to take better engagement over diminishing risk factors, and the more you can connect the delivery system to identifying gaps in care that you can then close, the better it is. So for us, the two worlds of the more traditional HIMSS clinical data world and the consumer wireless digital revolution are becoming more holistic in our mind, and we sort of see ourselves as pulling all of that together. So I don't see it in any way as dichotomies. I don't see it as being dyssynchronous. For me it's synchronous.

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2 comments on "Will Payers Lead Digital Health?"


Janice McCallum (1/25/2013 at 11:34 AM)
Scott & David, I have to agree, esp. since I wrote on this topic nearly two years ago: http://www.healthcontentadvisors.com/blog/2011/5/31/look-to-payers-for-innovation-in-health-information.html

David Lee Scher, MD (1/23/2013 at 9:04 AM)
I wholeheartedly agree that payers are the key to digital health and specifically mobile health technologies. Please see: http://davidleescher.com/2012/12/02/why-payers-are-critical-to-mhealth-adoption/