PHARMACY

Prime role for health technology is helping seniors stay independent

BY Jim Frederick

Helping seniors stay “active, mobile and independent” is the prime mission for GreatCall, a San-Diego-based provider of independent-living tools for elderly Americans and their caregivers.

(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)

GreatCall CEO David Inns explained, “provides technology and services to keep older consumers safe and independent in their homes longer.” Through products like the Jitterbug smartphone, a Jitterbug urgent-response flip phone, and a line of mobile and wearable devices, the company links at-home seniors with 24/7 access to physicians and registered nurses, helps with medication adherence and refills, easily links to family and friends, and offers an urgent-response service for emergencies.

“All those services generate … data about the overall well-being of the senior,” Inns said. “So we know how much they exercise, leave the house, make it to the doc on time, etc. We can take that data, analyze it and present it back to family caregivers.”

“If that info could be easily linked through a pharmacy system, it would increase adoption … immensely, and increase the accuracy of the system,” he added.

However, Inns said it’s vital to provide support to seniors using new health and communications technology. “An AARP study showed that among seniors who had started using a FitBit, more than half of them stopped using it within the first few weeks … because that experience was designed for a 20- to 30-year-old fitness buff, not for a 72-year-old woman who just needs it to track exercise and wellness. So that’s a really important part of creating value in this health ecosystem.”

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PHARMACY

Watson Health: Transforming care with data, ‘cognitive insights’

BY Jim Frederick

Today’s health system is saddled with stark challenges, including runaway costs, exploding demand for services and huge gaps in the quality of care and in the sharing of patient records, treatment options, health risk factors and other data. Meeting those challenges will require all health and wellness stakeholders — including retailers — to build a data-driven “ecosystem” that engages patients and gives doctors, pharmacists, clinicians and health plan payers the cognitive tools they need to make better decisions, said Kathy McGroddy-Goetz, VP of partnerships and solutions at IBM Watson Health.

(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)

This recently launched IBM subsidiary has set an ambitious agenda. “Our vision is to improve and save lives around the world, and reduce the cost of health care through the power of cognitive insights,” McGroddy-Goetz told the panel on retail health and technology. “So we’re working to develop both the technology and business platform to convene a healthcare ecosystem … to transform the industry.”

Watson Health will leverage IBM’s powerful data-gathering and processing capabilities to “bring together individual, clinical, research and social data from a diverse range of health sources, creating a secure cloud-based, data-sharing hub, powered by one of the most advanced cognitive and analytic technologies.”

With the population aging rapidly and millions of boomers thrust into the role of caregiver, the need to advance decision-making and connectivity within this ecosystem is critical, McGroddy-Goetz said. For health retailers, she added, “it’s about … trying to leverage all these different kinds of data and knowledge sources to drive insights” about the needs and behavior of seniors and their caregivers.

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Leveraging tech to engage consumers

BY Jim Frederick

The mounting costs of health care and the rise of high-deductible health plans are biting deep into Americans’ pocketbooks as payers shift more of the cost burden onto their members. Meanwhile, public and private plan payers are demanding more cost-effective modes of front-line care and shifting the focus to wellness, disease prevention and successful outcomes.

(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)

How can pharmacy and health retailers step up with solutions to those challenges? And what role can technology play in the evolution of more accessible, more affordable and more integrated retail-based health care?

In search of answers, Walmart U.S. SVP of business development Jane Ewing joined moderator Chris Dimos and a panel of executives from leading health technology companies — including higi CEO Jeff Bennett, Great-Call CEO David Inns, Honor head of health integration Kelsey Mellard, Startup Health director strategic partnerships Katya Hancock, Life Bio founder and CEO Beth Sanders, 23andMe VP international Jon Ward and IBM Watson Health VP partnerships and solutions Kathy McGroddy Goetz — to explore how retailers can leverage technology to help drive consumer-directed and retail-based health care part of a one-day thought leadership summit co-hosted by Drug Store News in partnership with Mack Elevation Forum, and aimed at activating retail as the center of the healthcare system.

To do so, Ewing and other panelists said retailers must fully connect with their customers as community-based health-and-wellness resources, using technology to enable virtual “communities of care” alongside doctors, hospital care coordinators and other health stakeholders.

“It’s about health, not just getting better,” Ewing said. “How do we help customers to live a healthier life, and how do we make it easier for them? How do we as a retailer pull this together and provide a solution?”

Providing solutions means, in part, using technology to build “a 360-degree view of the patient” through “meaningful data inputs and outputs,” said Dimos, SVP of corporate strategy and business development at McKesson.

“This is a patient journey,” Dimos noted. “We have to look for the unmet needs of the shopper. How do we walk along this journey, and how do we create value?”

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