How can health technology impact high blood pressure? The American Heart Association and Brandgarage sought to answer that question at the Check, Change, Control Leadership Summit. The panels and presentations addressed how the healthcare community could help 13.6 million hypertensive Americans achieve blood pressure control by 2020. Similar to the Health Tech Forum in Austin last year, this summit highlighted the work of four startups – Hello Heart, Quanttus, Twine Health, and Scanadu – along with medical device leaders Omron and Pharmasmart.
Three themes emerged around the AHA’s Mission to, “Equip Providers, Motivate Consumers, Activate Communities & Enhance Systems of Care”:
Empowering and Engaging Patients
With the role of primary care physicians changing, patients are now in a position to take active control of their health through new health tech applications and devices. Patients need to think and act on their blood pressure more than just at the doctor’s office to drive better outcomes. There is an opportunity for increased community education and engagement through pharmacists, health centers, and community centers like the YMCA to show hypertensive individuals how healthy lifestyle modifications will allow them take control of their blood pressure. This is a conversation beyond just the doctor and the patient around how a community can drive blood pressure awareness.
Creating Financial Incentives Around Care Models
Payment emerged as both a limiting factor in providing quality care but also a route for innovative financial incentives to improve care. Twine Health demonstrated how its device-based care platform could reduce the cost of hypertensive care per patient while dramatically improving outcomes. Payment codes and reimbursement models also provide incentives to providers to keep patients out of the hospital and in lower-cost ongoing care plans. A great example of this is a recent agreement system between the state of Maryland and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, championed by Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. The Incentive Cure, also stresses the need for creative disruption in the healthcare system. Future discussions are needed to have an impact on healthcare initiatives that affect the fiscal incentives available to chronic disease patients, including those with high blood pressure.
Building Powerful Partnerships
At its heart, healthcare is relationships and communication – doctors to patients, patients to caretakers, and more – and this is backed by technology which amplifies the collective impact made on each patient. However, adoption of new technologies must be driven by key players – practitioners, cardiologist, community health centers, healthcare providers, researchers, pharmacists, technology innovators – and not just the patients themselves. More than just developing new technologies, this body can produce updated regulations, research to back new care models, and insight into the efficacy of these technologies in conjunction with new care models.
As the industry continues to move forward, we must champion new technologies but also not confuse health tech with healthcare. Technology is a means to amplify the impact of healthcare and empower the patient in their own health as primary care models shift. Technology also adds a layer to the payment of healthcare that can reduce costs and also create financial incentives around quality of care versus quantity.
Image by @katalyst_creative.