New tech connections: Getting personal with data

By Brittney Holcomb, Director of Engagement Strategy, FCB Health New York

Today’s consumers and HCPs have access to a well of data at their fingertips that could predict if they’ll develop heart disease, help prevent progression of dementia and even allow them to adjust medications at home. At SXSW 2024, these advancements were presented as a crucial piece between leveraging data to drive more personalized and connected experiences in medicine.

At this year’s SXSW, the following trends were observed:

New waves in diagnostics

The ability to forecast disease will be a crucial piece to the digital metamorphosis in healthcare. Better diagnostics will allow us to catch potential issues earlier so we can initiate proactive treatment.

Specifically, there are two ways we observed how eye exams are elevating our capabilities for better diagnostics across all populations:

  • Eye exams have one of the lowest barriers to access in healthcare. An eye exam is also the only way a doctor can see a blood vessel without an X-ray or CT scan, both of which are known to be costly. Free eye exams for consumers enable us to detect diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, some skin cancers and even a brain aneurysm across a wide range of populations.
  • Vision care companies have been joining forces with other sectors and specialties to make eye care even more accessible by launching free retinal scan kiosks in geographical areas with insufficient access to medical care. This poses an opportunity for healthcare companies and marketers to partner with these kiosks and continue patient education after their visit.

Proactive health with wearables

Healthcare data is being captured every second of the day across institutions and consumers with wearable sensors, yet more than half of this data goes unused because both medical professionals and consumers are unaware of how it can be used. Driving awareness about how this data can be utilized to help anticipate potential health issues is crucial for better health management.

Here are a few key areas where healthcare companies can tap into the opportunities with wearables and sensors:

  • By using wearable sensors, we can contribute to the research surrounding diagnostic advancement. Understanding this data has armed patients with information they can use to have more valuable conversations with their physicians regarding their health.
  • In addition to preventative health, wearables are helping patients and their care teams measure cognitive and emotional progress while in treatment, in turn enhancing the patient's experience.
  • Patient support programs can encourage wearable use among patients to ensure progress, patient satisfaction and create opportunities for more engagement with the patient community.

Value based care with telehealth

Timing has always been a challenge in medicine – seeing patients right away, diagnosing them as soon as possible and getting treatment started quickly. The expanded use of telehealth has allowed HCPs more time to treat effectively, with a focus on providing value-based care and achieving better health outcomes for patients, rather volume-based care.

At SXSW, this combined use of telehealth and generative AI was highlighted as a transformative partnership for HCPs to deliver efficient care without losing personalization:

  • Telehealth, often seen as disconnected from the personal approach, can benefit from sensor technology which provides doctors with information leading up to their virtual appointment with the patient. Intake forms can be used to capture connected data when the patient is scheduling a telehealth appointment. Educating themselves before an appointment improves patient care without diluting the level of attention.
  • AI-powered care tools are always being utilized to help HCPs familiarize themselves with a patient’s history by quickly summarizing information. One application already in use is Glass AI, a clinical tool that generates personalized clinical plans based on symptoms and diagnostics. Overwhelmed hospitals can benefit from this form of AI that would save time and provide personalized care.

Harnessing this upswell of virtual care, the evolving role of sensors and the impact of AI in medicine allows us to unlock data for the betterment of patient care. As healthcare marketers, understanding challenges and potential solutions on the horizon is important so we can strategically position and adapt our tactical recommendations to be more impactful.