Sponsored By

Despite the remarkable technological advances in medicine of the last few decades, the practice of healthcare continues to lag behind many other industries, says Matthew Diamond, MD, PhD, Medical Lead at wearable technology company Misfit (San Francisco, CA). Recording and storing reliable patient data, which can be easily done through the use of digital health and wearable devices, is a missed opportunity, he adds.

Norbert Sparrow

August 22, 2014

4 Min Read
Misfit Medical Lead Matthew Diamond on the transformative power of digital health

Despite the remarkable technological advances in medicine of the last few decades, the practice of healthcare continues to lag behind many other industries, says Matthew Diamond, MD, PhD, Medical Lead at wearable technology company Misfit (San Francisco, CA). Recording and storing reliable patient data, which can be easily done through the use of digital health and wearable devices, is a missed opportunity, he adds. Diamond will explore this topic at the forthcoming MEDevice San Diego Conference and Showcase next month; he shared some of the points he will be making at the event with PlasticsToday.

matthew-diamond_160.jpg

Matthew Diamond, MD,
PhD, Medical Lead, Misfit

To illustrate how greater adoption of digital health can improve medical care, Diamond cites just one example that "occurs in some fashion in hundreds of primary care clinics across the country. A patient with multiple medical problems—let's say he or she has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, and arthritis, and there are tens of millions of patients with these same conditions—is asked by the provider what medicines he or she has been taking," says Diamond. "In response, the patient pulls out a dozen medicine bottles from a bag, some of which are duplicates, some unnecessary. Many patients aren't sure if or how much they're taking or why they should." And that's a best-case scenario, because many patients neglect to bring their meds with them.

"There have been some advances in this area, including electronic prescriptions and records, but we still have a long way to go," says Diamond. "Similarly, when that same provider asks patients how active they've been, how much walking they're doing, and so forth, there's very little reliable data that patients are typically able to provide." This is especially concerning when you consider that maintaining an active lifestyle is probably the single most important contributor to an individual's health and quality of life, adds Diamond.

Given this reality, clinicians often must resort to making health management decisions without all the data they would like, and patients are left without a system in place to encourage them to live an active lifestyle and stay on track with their medical management, says Diamond. "Digital health, including wearables, has the potential to bridge that gap—to provide patients with tools to help them actively participate in their medical management and take ownership of their wellness, while providing clinicians with richer, more reliable information about their patients," says Diamond.

The company he works for, Misfit, has developed the Shine activity tracker and Beddit sleep tracker. While these are not medical devices, Misfit clearly sees opportunities in the healthcare field—CEO Sonny Vu made no secret of that during a recent conference on wearable technology. Diamond also acknowledged to PlasticsToday that "Misfit's interests extend beyond activity trackers and include ambient sensing devices and devices in the medical arena." The company, understandably, is tight lipped about any specifics. Diamond was forthcoming, however, on the challenges that wearable technology must overcome to woo the worried well as well as healthcare consumers. That is a key element of his presentation, "Wearable Technology: A Powerful Tool to Increase Patient Engagement in Wellness," at MEDevice San Diego.

"It sounds simple but you can't take it for granted--people need to enjoy wearing their devices in order to keep wearing them," says Diamond, stressing the crucial part that product design and material selection play in that role. "Second, the data these devices collect need to be relevant, accurate, and integrated into a health and wellness infrastructure. Third, data alone isn't incredibly useful; rather, information needs to be presented in a meaningful way as part of a system that supports the individual by providing personalized, actionable insights," adds Diamond. "Finally, to have the biggest impact on healthcare, these systems and devices must participate in the entire timeline of wellness and disease, including preventive care and treatment of chronic illnesses."

As Diamond sees it, mobile health, or digital health, holds tremendous potential for transforming how we live and take care of ourselves and others. "Wearables will play an important role, and there will be a significant overlap between mobile health devices and consumer devices," he says. We also have to look beyond wearables, adds Diamond, "to other devices, such as ambient sensing technologies, that have the potential to connect us with a world of digital sensing that doesn't require us to wear something for that purpose."

Diamond will be one of several experts speaking at MEDevice San Diego on next-generation medical technologies, the consumerization of medical devices, regulatory and reimbursement issues, telemedicine, and much more. The event takes place at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina on Sept. 10 and 11, 2014. Go to the MEDevice San Diego website for a complete conference schedule and registration information.

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow is Senior Editor at PlasticsToday. Follow him on twitter @norbertcsparrow and Google+.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like