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Posts Tagged ‘Philips’

Late last week, Intel announced that it had received FDA approval or its consumer/caregiver centric health device, the Intel Health Guide.

The Health Guide is a single purpose platform to facilitate telehealth by collecting data from devices (heart rate, weight, glucose, etc.) and securely transmitting the data for remote monitoring by a clinician or other caregiver. Intel also states that the Health Guide will also enable secure email communication and delivery of health-related content to the end user (consumer). This is the second product to come out of Intel’s Digital Health Group, the first being a clinician-centric, mobile computing platform, the MCA.

The release of Health Guide follows last month’s announcement by Intel of the social caregiver’s website, ConnectingforCare, which was formed in partnership with the National Family Caregivers Association. This site is still very immature and lacking critical content thus begging the question – Do we really need another social community website such as this when we are already inundated with numerous, healthcare centric social sites?

Reading through some of Intel’s documents (caution PDFs) on their health care evolution and design philosophy, it is clear that Intel has every intention to move from a passive player in the market, supplying microprocessors (chips) to any and all takers, to becoming a direct developer, marketer and seller of devices such as the Health Guide. Intel sees a huge opportunity in the telehealth market to serve an aging baby boomer population that will increasingly use technologies such as this to manage their health, in conjunction with their physician, from the comfort of their home.

Savvy move on Intel’s part as there is indeed a significant opportunity and I see no single dominant player in the market today. Sure, Philips is there as well as Omron and Panasonic, along with GE giving it a close look but no one has taken a commanding lead. Thus, there are no formidable barriers to a new entrant such as Intel. It is still a wide open market.

But in reading the announcement I am struck by the lack of reference on Intel’s part as to how the Health Guide fits into the broader context of care and in particular, electronic records, be they PHR, EMR or EHR. No reference whatsoever on this front which has me quite puzzled as Intel is a key partner in the Personal Health System (PHS) Dossia, which Colin Evans, formerly of Intel, is now leading. This raises a number of questions:

  • How will the Health Guide fit into a consumer’s existing PHR such as one from RelayHealth which already has secure physician-consumer communication embedded in the PHR?
  • Similarly, how will Health Guide interface to a solution like ICW’s LifeSensor PHR that has a significant number of interfaces to existing biometric devices?
  • How might Health Guide integrate into a clinician’s existing workflow and EMR solution and if the clinician offers a patient portal, will Health Guide automatically populate the patient portal with biometric data and any communications that occur electronically?
  • What might be the connection between the Health Guide and a PHS. For example, Microsoft’s HealthVault is in many ways similar to Health Guide (at least from a software perspective) in that it offers secure communication of biometric data to a secure server for storage and retrieval? Are these competing solutions or complimentary?

In making the announcement of FDA approval, Intel also stated that the product would not be released to market until late this year or early next. That should give Intel enough time to further clarify the positioning of Health Guide and address the questions above. Otherwise, despite all the bells & whistles, Health Guide will struggle.

For a more positive spin on the Health Guide, here’s a brief interview with the Health Group WW Director of Marketing and Sales.

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Snap Shots from HIMSS

Here at the big, dare I say massive, healthcare IT (HIT) conference for the next couple of days. It is late, I’m exhausted, and the prose may not be the best, but wanted to give a few impressions/snap shots from this first time attendee.

Did I say big? Indeed it is with some 900+ exhibitors this year and those exhibitors range from the big boys, like GE, Siemens and Philips to nano-sized, niche vendors selling odd widgets that not many people seem terribly interested in.

HIMSS is very insular and could use some outside perspective(s). Sessions I attended today had senior IT executives from providers and vendors all parroting themselves. A certain amount of this can be expected, but I find an unusually high level of it here.

The dominant view is that it is not a consumer, but a patient that everyone is ultimately serving. While I understand and appreciate where this perspective originated from, it is a perspective that is so 80’s. The times they are a changing and the CIO needs to begin looking outward to engage the consumer. I’m not seeing any originality here at HIMSS on how to make that happen. Too bad Deloitte isn’t here to give a keynote presentation on some of the findings from their recent consumer healthcare study, that might shake them up a bit.

Then again, maybe not.

A couple of CIOs I spoke with told me that they get very little consumer traffic on their hospital’s website and what little consumer traffic they do get is 80%+ focused on the job listings. Therefore, they are dedicating resources to other, more pressing activities.

With all the buzz about consumer health and a consumer’s purported desire to use Web-based tools (see recent Deloitte report), makes one wonder where is the disconnect. Is it just that these CIOs have made their websites so difficult to navigate that a consumer simply gives up, or is it just easy for someone being interviewed over the phone to say yes, sure I’d like to schedule an appointment over the Web with my physician, but when giving that capability, still reverts back to traditional methods. This is something that is going to require more digging to get to the bottom of.

Sat through a somewhat embarrassing media session hosted by HIMSS to present the findings of their annual CIO Leadership survey. Embarrassing for one savvy reporter pointed out some serious inconsistencies in the survey data exposing some equally serious flaws in methodology. And what I found particularly bizarre is what the survey left out. For example, no inquiry on pay for performance, even though this is a key business issue that will be heavily dependent on HIT in the future.

The most grandiose, over the top booth award goes to McKesson, who has a huge exhibit with the biggest light display I have ever seen at any conference. They certainly blew out their carbon footprint with that exhibit. Sure hope they don’t have any “Green” messaging in their booth.

The most understated booth award goes to our most recent entrant to the HIT market, Google, who had at best a 10’x20′ booth which was absolutely abuzz with people 4-5 deep, which basically crowded out the aisle as well. Luckily, I know one of the Google Product Managers and was able to get in quickly, get some questions answered and move on. Google is still very sensitive about their PHR, quickly shooing someone away when they tried to grab a quick pix with their cellphone.

The most effective booth display was EMR vendor Epic’s posting of their most recent KLAS rankings. Needless to say, they are blowing away their major competitors, Cerner, Eclipsys, McKesson, Siemens and GE. Simply amazing how far ahead Epic is ranked on a variety of key metrics in comparison to these competitors.

Best demo: RelayHealth PHR. I knew RealyHealth did consumer-physician communications, but I did not know that they had as much PHR capability as they demonstrated to me today. Really quite something, though I have some reservations about the solution as it is really targeted for the physician and actual patient control features appear to be weak. Will learn more tomorrow when I sit down with one of their executives.

At this point, I’ve been going for 17+ hours straight. Time to get some sleep and get ready for another long day tomorrow.

Note: For some reasons, quite possibly due to exhaustion, inadvertently hit the wrong button so this did not go up last night as planned. So, slightly late but still relevant.

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A common practice in the analyst community is to take a look back at what has occurred and project forward as to what we might see in the coming year. I won’t spend anytime on what has occurred as you can always drift back to previous posts.

Following are the Top Ten predictions for 2008. Note, these predictions are primarily focused on our core research competency – Personal Healthcare Technology. And if these top ten differ from yours, by all means give us a comment providing your list.

1.) Election Year Puts Many Initiatives in Neutral
2.) Telehealth Continues to Gain Momentum Driving Consolidation
3.) Consumer Electronic Manufacturers Jump on Telehealth Bandwagon
4.) Legacy HIT Vendors Copycat AthenaHealth with Their Own SaaS Offerings
5.) PHRs Still in Headlines, While Adoption Stumbles Along
6.) Attention Turns to PHSs, but Vision Remains Well Ahead of Reality
7.) PDF – Healthcare Hits the Streets, Retail Clinics Love it, Physicians Less So
8.) Personal Identifier Initiatives on the Hill are DOA in ‘08
9.) Employers Expand High Deductible Plan Offerings, Consumers Challenged
10.) HIEs Hold Steady, RHIOs Fade Away – Major Re-thinking of NHIN

Election Year Puts Many Initiatives in Neutral
As the Bush administration continues to see high-ranking officials leave office, no new healthcare-centric initiatives are launched and those, such as the ill-fated National Health Information Network (NHIN), are put on life-support. Even pay for performance (P4P) activities are pulled back until a new administration is in place (mid 2009).

Telehealth Continues to Gain Momentum Driving Consolidation
2007 saw several reports touting the efficacy of telehealth practices, from interacting with a physician over the Internet to the migration of outpatient care and monitoring to the home via health sensor networks and the Web. This will be one of the strongest areas of growth in healthcare technology in 2008 with annual percentage rate growth in the mid-teens. Growth will drive consolidation, as large established players such as Philips, GE and Siemens acquire smaller device manufacturers with either unique technology platforms or specific vertical market presence.

Consumer Electronic Manufacturers Jump on Telehealth Bandwagon
The growth in telehealth and simple demographics (this market will only get bigger) will attract other electronic manufacturers with strong Brand and established consumer distribution channels. Think Sony, Toshiba, LG. Still too early for Nokia and Apple, but they are coming. These companies will also look to acquire, or partner with established players in the personal health technology market to gain domain knowledge and market presence. The upcoming CES confab in Las Vegas may shed some light on who will make the first move.

Legacy HIT Vendors Copycat AthenaHealth with Their Own SaaS Offerings
The success of AthenaHealth in the market and on Wall Street (10th best performing IPO in 2007) is certainly not lost on the traditional Healthcare IT (HIT) vendors. Like the software firms in the enterprise market who have all tried to replicate Salesforce.com with their own SaaS CRM solution, expect the legacy HIT vendors to do the same in their attempts to replicate AthenaHealth. Expect the same lack of success. To date, none of the traditional enterprise software vendors have been able to catch Salesforce.com, which still shows remarkable momentum in the market.

PHRs Still in Headlines, While Adoption Stumbles Along
With the impending release of Google Health in the first half of 2008, we will continue to see a lot of press dedicated to Personal Health Records (PHRs). Despite the press and employers who continue to adopt these solutions for their employees to foster better healthcare practices, there remain many significant challenges that will prevent the PHR market from really breaking out. Expect 2008 to be a build-out year for PHR vendors, thus tracking large customer wins, partnerships and alliances of these vendors will be critical to assess long-term viablity.

Attention Turns to PHSs, but Vision Remains Well Ahead of Reality
Microsoft has HealthVault, employers have Dossia and Google will have Google Health (or some other Brand name) by mid-2008. All of these are Personal Health Systems (PHSs). They are not a PHR, but a data repository and ultimately a utility that other applications, including PHRs can tap to serve the consumer. Each of these PHSs have enormous resources behind them, but their vision is far ahead of what they will be able to deliver in 2008. There is a lot of heavy lifting (standards, tagging, document management, security, etc.) that these entities will need to address, consuming most of 2008. Look to mid-2009 for these systems to be at a level of functionality that is useful to the broad market.

PDF-Healthcare Hits the Streets, Retail Clinics Love it, Physicians Less So
The “Best Practices Guide” for the use of PDF-Healthcare is making its way through the formal review process with expected release in the next month or so. Currently being used by one of the largest retail clinics, PDF-Healthcare has demonstrated its utility for this retail clinic that is now exchanging over 10,000 unique PDF-Healthcare documents a day throughout its organization.

While this retail clinic has reaped a number of advantages through the use of PDF-Healthcare, and larger healthcare providers will do so as well, smaller physician practices will be challenged by this format as most are ill equipped to accept such digital documentation. Thus, PDF-Healthcare will become another forcing function for physician adoption of EMR, something that most have been loathed to do.

Personal Identifier Initiatives on the Hill are DOA in ‘08

Several proposals surfaced in 2007 calling for the establishment of a personal identifier for American citizens to better track/tag their medical records. This is becoming increasingly relevant as use of digital records accelerates. Despite a very real need for personal identifiers, this issue exacerbates existing fears of privacy and government intrusion. Thus, this will not see the legislative light of day in 2008. A new administration may take it up in 2009 if they receive a strong mandate from the public (i.e., a landslide victory).

Employers Expand High Deductible Plan Offerings, Consumers Challenged
Building upon the growing trend we saw in 2007 of employers seeking new ways to lower their exposure to double digit growth in medical benefit costs, consumer-driven health plans, most often with high deductibles, are now in vogue. Young, healthy employees sign-on to such plans, chronic care sufferers reject them and middle-age employees with families struggle to determine what is best for them. Unfortunately, for this latter group few resources are available to assist them with making the best choice. And as for those young, healthy and very often Internet-savvy employees, they look to the Web to help them pick a doctor and control expenses. But they to will come up empty handed as cost transparency will remain elusive in 2008.

HIEs Hold Steady, RHIOs Fade Away – Major Re-thinking of NHIN
The reports released at the end of 2007, the first on the relatively dismal state of Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs) and the second on the modest success of Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) were simply a harbinger for 2008. Expect 2008 to deliver more of the same for RHIOs as they continue to struggle to establish a value proposition that will overcome competing entities participation in a RHIO. And there is the nagging issue of a revenue model for RHIOs to make them self-sustaining long-term – to date, this issue has not been solved. Both of these problems will lead to nearly a third of the remaining RHIOs closing their doors by the end of 2008 and another third will be best characterized as the walking dead.

While RHIOs fade, HIEs will continue to operate and see modest growth. Unlike RHIOs, HIEs are formed by entities that have a strong desire to share information, not withhold it. But HIEs will not be the panacea to the need for a NHIN as their reach will be limited and highly localized. This will limit the overall growth of HIEs and subsequently, their impact to the market.

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Philips Electronics announced on Friday that it will acquire Respironics for $66/share or about $5.13 billion, a 24% premium.   This is the third and largest healthcare-centric acquisition that Philips has made in December.  The first was Emergin, a small company (~100 employees, estimated $18 million in 2007 sales) and provider of medical alarming systems for hospitals.  The second, Visicua a supplier of systems for remote monitoring of intensive care units, was acquired for $430 million.

All three acquisitions are the manifestation of Philips’ “Vision 2010” strategy, which was announced in early September. As part of this new vision for the company, divisions have been realigned into three distinct groups, lighting, consumer lifestyle and healthcare with planned investments to build these three into market leading organizations.

Within healthcare, Philips combined its separate Medical and Consumer Health divisions into one entity. While the first two acquisitions are in support of the former Medical group, the Respironics acquisition will provide solutions that span both the hospital/provider market and the home healthcare market.

The acquisition of Respironics, while appearing expensive at first blush, is a brilliant move and will, if executed properly, reap significant benefits for Philips for a number of reasons including:

  • Fills a gap in Philips current product portfolio allowing them to deliver to market a more complete solution suite.
  • Respironics is on a tear, with revenue growth in the mid-teens and margin growth of nearly 20% that shows no signs of slowing. They also appear to be a very well managed company and Philips has publicly (and wisely) stated they foresee no layoffs as a result of this acquisition.
  • Respironics, a US-based company has only recently made significant in-roads in overseas expansion, which represents roughly 31% of sales in FY06. Philips, with its broad international distribution network, could see some quick gains by broadening Respironics international presence.

Philips is positioning itself well for the inevitable move to deliver far more healthcare services, via telehealth, within the home rather than at a hospital or physician practice.  One of the nation’s largest, integrated healthcare providers, Kaiser-Permanente, for example is exploring new ways to deliver healthcare at the home to minimize the need for building more facilities.  Several studies have also been recently released that clearly demonstrate the efficacy of telehealth.

With the minor exception of the partnership between GE and Boston Scientific, Philips’ major competitors Siemens and GE have been relatively silent, leaving one to wonder if they lack the vision or have simply chosen to head down a different path.  My guess is that they are watching Philips’ moves with a wary eye and 2008 may well see a number of follow-on acquisitions by these companies to keep pace with Philips.

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