News

Fierce Healthcare: Humana’s wellness program features a small but committed group of wearables users

Of the nearly 4.5 million people enrolled in Humana’s wellness program, just 1.2% used an activity tracker. But the majority of those that did activate a device continued using it for six months, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that offers the first robust evaluation of wearables within wellness programs. In one of the largest studies of wearables usage to date, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania combed through two years of data from HumanaVitality, now known as Go365. They discovered that although initial usage of activity trackers barely broke 1%, 80% of those that did engage…

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The first digital pill: innovation or invasion?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first digital pill that tracks if patients have taken their medication. Our experts weighed in on the potential benefits of the new technology, as well as the potential for abuse. (from left to right) Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD; Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe; Emily Largent, PhD, JD, RN; Robert Field, PhD, JD, MPH The pill, a version of the antipsychotic Abilify used to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, has an ingestible sensor that communicates with a wearable patch to record date and time of ingestion, as well as other physiological data. Patients…

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Reuters: Fitness tracker games may help families get more exercise

When fitness trackers alone fail to get families moving enough, turning step counts into a competition might help people get more exercise, a small experiment suggests. Researchers gave fitness trackers to 200 adults and asked them to set daily step count goals to increase their activity levels. All had at least one other family member participating in the experiment, and half of the families were randomly chosen for a team competition with prizes tied to achieving daily and weekly step goals. Winning the game required all participants in the family to reach their target number of daily steps. That’s because…

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Knowledge@Wharton: Does Connectivity Help — or Hurt — the Doctor-Patient Relationship?

Christian Terwiesch, a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, has co-authored two new studies related to technology and health care. The first, which examined the impact of e-visits on primary care, found some surprisingly negative results about connectivity: E-visits can take up more of a physician’s time rather than making patient contacts simpler and more efficient. That has contributed to more physicians feeling overburdened and burnt out, with less ability to take on new patients. The second paper looked at how some of those negative effects could be turned around. Terwiesch sat down with Knowledge@Wharton to talk about these…

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Philadelphia Inquirer: Can a $55 water bottle prevent kidney stones? Penn and CHOP aim to find out.

Armed with a big federal grant, Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are teaming up to prevent kidney stones, an excruciatingly painful condition that is increasing in both adults and children. Along with three other institutions, they’ll be part of a clinical trial testing whether a $55 “smart” water bottle that sends data on how much users drink to a phone app, plus financial incentives, can keep people of all ages who’ve had one kidney stone from getting another one. “The goal of this grant is to look at kidney stones as a disease that can occur over a…

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Undark: Putting Digital Health Monitoring Tools to the Test

PHYSICIANS CALL IT the 5,000-hour problem. If you have a common chronic condition such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, the expert in charge of your health for almost all of your 5,000 waking hours annually is — you. And, frankly, you won’t always make the best choices. “The behavior changes that are necessary to address chronic disease are much more in your hands than in the doctor’s,” points out Stacey Chang, executive director of the Design Institute for Health at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas. “To cede that control to the doctor sometimes is actually counterproductive.” With that in mind,…

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NPR: ‘Smart’ Pill Bottles Aren’t Always Enough To Help The Medicine Go Down

What if I told you there was a way to use technology to save an estimated $100 billion to $300 billion dollars a year in health care spending in the U.S.? That’s the estimated cost incurred because people don’t take the medications they’re prescribed. A number of companies are now selling wireless “smart” pill bottles, Internet-linked devices aimed at reminding people to take their pills. But recent research suggests that actually changing that behavior may take more than an electronic nudge. All agree it’s a worthy goal. Dr. Niteesh Choudhry, an internist at Harvard Medical School, describes the problem of not taking medication as “the…

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The Complicated Issue of “See Something, Say Something” in Science

Mobile phones and other connected devices are an increasingly common tools for researchers examining a range of medical and public health issues. Some, such as Bluetooth connected blood pressure cuffs or blood glucose monitors record and analyze information about medical conditions in the hopes of tracking patient outcomes over time and developing new interventions. Others, like such as personal breathalyzers and apps that use GPS and accelerometer sensors to track driving behavior, are working to cut down on the increasing number of fatalities and injuries caused by unsafe and often illegal driving behaviors. Mobile technology provides researchers with new cost-effective…

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When Push Comes to Nudge

Imagine if health care costs could be dramatically reduced, and outcomes improved without any heavy lifting – no bills would need to be passed, no policies approved, and no major restructuring required. What if we could simply will people to make decisions that resulted in better care and a healthier population? “Decisions are affected by emotions, bias, social context. The solution is design,” David Asch, MD, MBA, executive director of Penn’s Center for Health Care Innovation, recently said at the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s annual conference. The idea that better decisions can be made simply by guiding people to them…

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MedPage Today: Triple Attack on Drug Nonadherence Still Fails in Post-AMI Setting

MedPage Today discusses the results of a study done by Kevin Volpp, Director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, Dr. Shivan Mehta, Dr. David Asch, Dr. Andrea Troxel, among many others affiliated with the center. The study was done to determine if there were any statistical differences in hospitalizations based on an intervention combining wireless pill bottles, lottery-based incentives, and social support among acute myocardial infarction (MI) survivors. Unfortunately, this study showed that a system of medication reminders using financial incentives and social support did not improve medication adherence. Read the original JAMA article here. Read more…

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