Cracking the Chronic Care Challenge

Mar 12, 2019

By Jodi Euerle Eddy, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. One in six Americans has at least one chronic health condition, and the incidence is continuing to rise. These diseases are a leading driver of the nation’s $3.3 trillion in annual healthcare costs.

Digital health is helping us change the game. From wearable devices to telemedicine are supporting earlier diagnosis and better management of chronic health conditions. At Boston Scientific, that means solutions that can predict heart failure events with weeks of notice to intervene, and unprecedented advancements to better manage chronic pain without drugs. But while more than 85 percent of consumers report using a digital health tool, those living with chronic health conditions—often the patients the most complex needs and facing the most significant health risks—are generally far less likely to leverage these technologies. For instance, a recent survey found that 60 percent people taking medication for high blood pressure are tracking their blood pressure, but only 11 percent do so with a digital tool.

Forty years of working in the medical device industry has taught us that focusing on the greatest need is the path to the greatest impact. Last week we hosted the fourth annual Boston Scientific Connected Patient Challenge, co-sponsored by Google Cloud, to inspire digital health solutions and foster collaboration among diverse thinkers. This year’s theme asked challengers to apply population health data, patient monitoring and/or predictive analytics to improve care for those with chronic health conditions.

We received 52 submissions from around the world, each more thought-provoking than the next. Narrowing to just six finalists was not easy, but we were thrilled to include concepts leveraging machine learning, predictive analytics, game mechanics and more to improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs. After seeing the compelling presentations our finalists delivered, picking one winner was even harder.

The winning concept, Nutrimedy, is a telemedicine platform designed to connect patients with registered dieticians. It provides tools that have the potential to improve the health of patients with every chronic condition imaginable, or with virtually any healthcare goal, all by supporting better nutrition. The runner up, BreathResearch, developed a technology that uses AI to aid in the earlier detection and tracking of respiratory disease for the approximately 500 million people worldwide suffering from asthma or COPD. 

In healthcare, no single organization will have all the answers. It takes collaboration to create healthcare solutions that move at the speed of digital to improve the health of patients worldwide. We congratulate the Nutrimedy and BreathResearch teams and look forward to working with them as they advance their platform.

We also look forward to seeing the other ideas sparked by connections made at the Connected Patient Challenge come to fruition. We are proud to support the next generation of innovators and thank all who participated in this year’s program. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.

This piece first appeared on LinkedIn.