In one of his final trips in office, Vice President Joe Biden ventured cross country to speak about the Cancer Moonshot 2020 global initiative to cure cancer at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference (and eat a grilled cheese sandwich).
The visit is a great sign for a health tech industry fueled by the “quantified self” movement of fitness trackers and other wearables of the past few years. Unfortunately, few of these wearable health technology solutions have made their way into doctors’ offices and hospitals due the complex web insurance policies, safety measures and red tape.
Vice President Biden’s visit to Silicon Valley illustrates a recognition that the future of health technology depends on collaboration between the government and the technology industry to ensure that these disruptive health technology solutions reach patients and improve health care.
However, for this to work, the technology industry must also recognize it needs to work with both the government and the insurance industry to ensure that the products are safe and reliable for patients and viable for large scale implementation in the medical industry.
The Polar Team Pro Shirt, designed to replace the chest strap and wristband monitors used by athletes to monitor heart rate during training, could replace the expensive and bulky heart rate monitors sent home with cardiovascular patients to monitor their progress and recovery. But is must first ensure that the data transmission process is HIPAA compliant and the measurements are accurate, especially in light of the ongoing lawsuit against Fitbit for the inaccuracy of the heart rate monitoring component of its wearables.
The Proof wearable with a patent-pending disposable cartridge system that converts perspired alcohol into an alcohol level specific to the wearer has massive potential to reduce or eliminate drunk driving, which accounts for more than 30% of traffic-related deaths in the United States, but only if it is accurate and enforceable.
And Bloomlife’s pregnancy-tracking wearable and companion app that helps women more accurately track and understand contractions safely from home could make a huge difference, especially for women with high-risk pregnancies living in rural areas where it is more challenging to get to doctors. With the future of health care access and affordability unclear, low income women are eager for alternative, cost-cutting medical solutions, but only if they can provide high quality care.
In order for health technology to make the leap from luxury items for athletes and early adopters to medical tools that can improve the health and wellbeing of America as a whole, we need technology, policy and medical leaders need to come together and create a concrete plan for navigating the currently unnavigable web of obstacles blocking the progress of health technology.