Connected care and remote patient monitoring programs have the potential to increase patients’ care plan understanding, engagement, and adherence while improving outcomes, efficiency and costs.
Promising as that may sound, successful connected care programs rely on mobile health apps, and a recent survey found that developing a mobile health app costs an average of $425,000 and takes 12-24 months. Such high costs and long timelines are among the numerous barriers to innovation in healthcare, whose slow pace has frustrated many and motivated the call for more efficient approaches.
The frameworks, APIs and platforms that aim to reduce barriers and lower costs have evolved rapidly. How do these tools compare and complement each other, and what is their ultimate impact on the pace and cost of healthcare innovation?
This analysis explains why the Pattern Health platform’s unique ability to build patterns instead of apps is so transformative for connected care innovation.
This analysis examines the products and technologies that promise a more efficient way to innovate in healthcare. Some are horizontal solutions, addressing challenges shared broadly across use cases, while others are vertical, addressing as fully as possible the many needs within a more focused set of use cases. Some products require you to develop custom software, while others are ready to use out of the box; custom development, and the necessary validation of custom healthcare software, is inherently costly and time consuming. This analysis explains why, among the diverse array of options, the Pattern Health platform’s unique ability to build patterns instead of apps is so transformative for connected care innovation.
It was two years ago that Apple open sourced its CareKit framework to help pave the road for developers creating iPhone apps for following a health care plan. Fewer than half of smartphones are iPhones, but Apple’s leadership, perhaps motivated by a desire to become the standard-issue device for health systems, has been followed by similar solutions like the ResearchStack framework for Android.
Since then, companies like Medable and CloudMine have raised $8.2M and $16.5M respectively for their tools and services that further streamline development of CareKit-based apps for both iOS and Android. Thread Research has a similar offering tailored for clinical research, based on ResearchKit and integrations with Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems like Medidata and REDCap.
All of these tools help you create connected care and research apps, but they do little to address clinical data and systems interoperability, which remain the most challenging obstacles to deploying connected care programs at scale across multiple health systems. Since busy clinicians have no time to spare, tools must integrate seamlessly with the EHR and workflow or they are dead on arrival. The HL7 SMART on FHIR standard makes EHR integration much simpler in theory, but most EHR vendors have been slow to fully adopt the standards. Integration service providers like Xealth and Redox meanwhile fill the gaps. Xealth bridges gaps in workflow integration by providing a way to prescribe digital health apps and content, while Redox addresses gaps in EHR data interoperability.
Integrations and compatibility with the myriad consumer wearable device and app data sources are equally essential for wide adoption across a diverse patient population. Smartphone users want to connect their FitBits, Apple Watches, smart scales and blood pressure monitors. Consumer health data standards like Bluetooth Smart and Apple HealthKit, and integration service providers Validic, HumanAPI and Google Cloud Healthcare API solve this need for the most common devices like activity trackers and blood pressure monitors, but haven’t yet found a way to normalize complex data sources like pill trackers and joint flexion sensors, which still need direct integration.
Certain costs and processes are unavoidable when developing even the simplest custom healthcare software.
All of these tools help developers create custom software more efficiently, yet their impact is inherently limited because certain costs and processes are unavoidable when developing even the simplest custom healthcare software:
- A qualified healthcare app developer must be identified, vetted and scheduled.
- With rates typically starting at $1,000 per day, no matter how efficient they are, costs add up quickly.
- Once built, the custom software itself must be vetted for compliance with security and privacy regulations as well as functionally validated for medical accuracy and risks. Even with low medical risk applications, healthcare regulatory compliance is an intensive process that takes months and tens of thousands of dollars.
All of this explains the $425,000 average cost of developing a mobile health app.
New tools promise faster innovation
What problems are custom-developed mobile health apps solving? “To have high adoption, technology must meet the specific needs of the end user, be it patient or clinician,” say the leaders of CareMore Health System, an integrated health plan and care delivery system for 100,000 high-risk Medicare and Medicaid patients. Can the same needs be met using a product or platform, without a developer? Happily, the answer is yes. The Pattern Health platform provides clinicians and researchers a simple, feature-rich platform that can be deployed to patients with the click of a button.
A turn-key connected care platform has some fundamental advantages over custom development:
It costs less, because there is more than one customer to share the cost
It is ready to use today instead of in 12-24 months
Even more powerful are system-of-systems advantages that are only possible with platforms adopted at scale: interoperability across organizations, and access to a larger market of end users. Such multi-stakeholder shared interests are naturally suited to independent third parties; a custom-developed proprietary solution is unlikely to meet the needs and be trusted by the other stakeholders.
With all these benefits, the case for platforms is overwhelming, but before a platform is approved for use in a healthcare organization, it must pass a business assessment that covers important considerations such as:
Aligned incentives: What is the core business of the company behind the platform? Is their business incentivized to continue to improve the product over time so that it meets the evolving needs of the end user? For example, a platform owned by a device company like Apple, Nokia, or FitBit, whose primary interest is in selling devices, will naturally prioritize the user experience of its own devices over its competitors. Pattern Health is not owned by a device company, health system or EHR vendor; it has no conflict or disincentive to meet the end users’ need for interoperability across devices and systems.
Custom branding: Does the platform provide the ability to deliver a branded user experience consistent with the organization’s brand guidelines? Custom branding is often an important requirement for healthcare organizations to signal a patient’s trust, but not every platform offers it. For example, platforms offered by device manufacturers often do not. Pattern Health does.
IP licensing and commercialization: Does the platform offer a path to commercialization of your organization’s intellectual property? Is there a mechanism to conveniently license content owned by others? Pattern Health’s Library is designed for this.
Trust and reliability: Can your organization rely on the technology and the business? Your organization will assess the company’s service level agreements, disaster recovery and other reliability and performance measures. Pattern Health is backed by Duke University and has been certified by the rigorous security and risk assessments of HITRUST and world-leading healthcare organizations such as Duke, UNC, Columbia, and NYU.
If any doubts remain, an evaluation pilot may be the best way to assess whether a platform will meet the organization’s needs, or confirm that a custom-developed solution is required.
Building Patterns Instead of Apps
Not only does Pattern Health offer the most comprehensive solution among connected care accelerating technologies, it has three uniquely transformative innovations:
Pattern Elements and Builder: Instead of hiring a developer to build an app, innovators use the Pattern Builder to build patterns. Patterns can be used to manage episodic, perioperative, and chronic care, or to conduct research and assessments.
Pattern Library: Similar to publishing an app on the app stores, patterns can be published and licensed via the Pattern Library. Patterns for cardiology, orthopedics and weight loss are the most popular among the platform’s users.
Evidence-based behavior change: Pattern Health’s strategic partnership with Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight (CAH), led by world renowned behavioral scientist Dan Ariely, gives it a proven edge over connected care alone. Pattern Health and CAH are collaborating on a growing library of motivation and adherence tools and techniques to help people stick to their care plans.
Try Pattern Health today, and start seeing the benefits of evidence-based connected care, including increased patient engagement, understanding and adherence, and improved outcomes, efficiency and costs. No developer required.
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