In the news: How to Cut Through the Noise of the Healthcare Internet of Things

Ben Jonash addresses the challenges and opportunities of digital therapeutics for chronic disease management from the perspective of patients, providers and developers. Below is just a snippet of his conversation with Jennifer Bresnick, for the full story visit

Making the Internet of Things work for healthcare

New business models are evolving, and they are successfully creating incentives to make patient engagement and population health management a core competency for providers of all types.

But there is a trick to picking the right IoT technologies to complement a chronic disease management or care coordination program.

“I often talk to clients about being device agnostic,” said Jonash. “You don’t want to be in the business of picking winners and picking this company versus that company when it comes to sensors.”

“You want to be in the business of setting the guardrails around what a great patient experience would look like, and developing process guidelines that don’t overwhelm or overburden your care team.”

Be discerning when choosing a digital therapeutics vendor to work with, he added, but don’t be inflexible. Not every start-up with a great idea has the capital to run a clinical trial to prove their technology really works – and some simply lack the good fortune to have come across a provider willing to take a chance on integrating a new solution into their care management strategies.

“It costs a lot of time and money to address the “show me you’ve done it already” questions that providers are asking,” Jonash said. “That’s a really high bar for some of these companies to meet.”

Providers shouldn’t feel obligated to stick their necks out for every Kickstarter project with an alluring sales pitch, but being proactive instead of obstructive can reap rewards.

“There’s an opportunity for providers to create venues that make it easier for these new players to demonstrate their capabilities,” Jonash asserted.

“Be the easiest provider to work with, and you’ll find that a lot of really innovative people want to talk to you, and you can choose from the best of them. That’s a powerful place to be. But if people aren’t really sure how to work with you, you’re going to lose out on a lot of opportunities.”

Clearly define a set of realistic goals for the project, such as helping high-risk diabetics control their blood sugar or creating an incentive program for chronic heart failure patients to lose weight.

It’s about a thoughtful integration of digital tools and behavior change mechanisms that can integrate with overall care programs.

“Don’t try to solve it all at once,” Jonash advised. “Pick a few areas where you can set up a model and show that it works and that you can integrate it into your workflow. Don’t just be seduced by the newest app or most dazzling devices.”

“You want to find someone who has actually developed something that drives patient engagement. You want someone who can talk to you about actually focusing on health outcomes instead of just showing you an interesting interface.”

His advice for the developer community is similar. Pay attention to the shifting demands of the marketplace, and constantly reassess whether or not a new idea will truly deliver better care in a simple, intuitive, effective way for everyone involved in the process.

“You don’t want to keep your head down for a year, build something, and then first pick your head up and see if the market likes it,” Jonash pointed out. “You want to be taking a much more human-centered, agile approach, where you’re working with lightweight prototypes and seeing if patients and providers engage with it.”

“Create an environment where you can actually stimulate change – not just with patients, but with the provider workflow. You’re going to be setting yourself up for failure if you spend all your money building a system only to find that no doctor would ever want to use it because it doesn’t work with how they behave. Think about lightweight innovation methods that can help you prove that your product can really make a difference.”