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Jackie Drees – Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

A new wave of consumerism is leading healthcare’s shift to remote patient monitoring, with big tech players like Apple and Amazon carving out a presence alongside smaller virtual care platforms, according to a Sept. 16 STAT report.

Six details:

1. Healthcare consumers are now focused on using digital technologies to either monitor and maintain their health and wellness or access more convenient care.

2. Tech giants such as Apple and Fitbit have gotten involved in the new wave of consumerism by transforming consumer devices into remote monitoring tools.

3. Apple was the first large tech company to publish an entirely virtual clinical study in 2019 of its Apple Watch, which features an embedded electrocardiogram that can safely detect heart irregularities. Fitbit in May also launched its virtual heart study to test its wearable devices’ ability to identify irregular heart rhythms; in September, Fitbit received FDA 510(k) clearance for its electrocardiogram app that assesses heart rhythm for AFib.

4. On consumerism and tech giant competition, University of Pittsburgh cardiologist Ritu Thamman, MD, told STAT: “You’re really seeing a shift where it’s consumers and consumer electronics deciding things more than a doctor deciding which device to use,” Dr. Thamman said. “We’re being pushed by the consumers themselves, and that’s creating the competition and the drive to create the best user experience.”

5. Differing from tech giants, virtual care companies like Omada and Alphabet’s Onduo are taking a platform-centric approach for health tracking. Onduo offers a care delivery program that uses remote monitoring hardware made by other companies and offers health coaches to help patients understand their data.

6. Rather than getting new customers by selling devices like tech giants, these smaller virtual care companies acquire patients by forging partnerships with employers, insurers and health plans that focus on offering patients insights and advice to guide their healthcare.

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