Who owns the home?


There seemed to be quite a bit of healthcare-related buzz coming out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This gigantic and glitzy show was more about technological advancements in TVs, computers and smart phones, of course, but it also included a Digital Health Summit on Jan. 9 and 10.

This year’s Digital Health Summit featured an impressive slate of sessions on everything from analyzing and using the skyrocketing amount of healthcare data that’s out there, to leveraging mobile applications to help consumers manage their chronic conditions.

The lineup of speakers included big names like CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, United Healthcare Group’s Dr. Reed Tuckson and The Dr. Oz Show’s Dr. Mehmet Oz. It also included BodyMedia CEO Christine Robins, who I interviewed in the fall.

One announcement coming out of the Digital Health Summit that caught my eye: ADT, a provider of electronic security and monitoring services for residences and small businesses, has partnered with Ideal Life to offer remote health management services.

ADT will integrate Ideal Life’s health monitoring and information technology into its interactive home management system, ADT Pulse. ADT Pulse allows customer to do everything from remotely arm and disarm their security systems, to control their thermostats, small appliances and lights.

When I saw this news (courtesy of Rich Miller, a fellow editor at our sister publication Security Systems News), it got me to thinking: Where are these types of partnerships in the HME industry? While it makes sense for ADT to expand its services in this way (it’s already in the home providing monitoring services), doesn’t it also make sense for HME providers?

And yet…

HME providers may not be as technologically advanced as an ADT, but, to me, the synergies are just as strong from a business perspective. Providers are most definitely in the home, to deliver equipment and provide services on a regular basis, and now that I think about it, they have an even more vested interest in the health and safety of their customers.

What’s the stumbling block? There isn’t a payer out there who reimburses for these services yet? Who cares—what about the customer? What about the customer’s caregivers?

While I’m at it—and I may be under the influence of the Consumer Electronics Show and the borderline crazy technology its known for (think a vibrating fork that measures your chews per minute)—why aren’t more HME manufacturers incorporating monitoring technologies into their products? CPAP manufacturers have started to do this in response to more stringent requirements around compliance, but shouldn’t these capabilities be more widespread? I mean, it’s technologies like these that allow providers to run their businesses more efficiently and cost-effectively, but maintain a high level of care.

It seems to me that a lot of what’s in store for health care has do with who owns the home, so to speak. I’d like to bet my money on an HME provider over an ADT, but right now, that’s a losing bet.