Disruptive innovation doesn't just take place in research labs. These innovators are changing the way we perceive digital health.
We love innovators, and at nuviun, we know that industries like healthcare aren't just overhauled by scientists and developers in labs and at universities. Here are 4 out-of-the-lab innovators that make our hearts beat a little bit faster this Valentine's Day.
For years I’ve been impressed by the medical technology on Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve visited some of the most technologically innovative hospitals in the US, and know that what we see on this medical drama is futuristic at best. But there was something about last week's focus on 3D printing in cancer treatment that piqued my interest as a health communicator.
Dr. Grey used the 3D printer as a surgical tool – one that allowed surgeons to visualize a tumor, to practice removing it, and to feel it in their hands in ways that traditional scans wouldn't allow.
This is edutainment: bringing technology to the mainstream by illustrating its usefulness—and the story is interesting enough that we may not realize that our opinions about medical gadgets may be changing. Kudos to the writing team at Grey’s Anatomy for demonstrating one use of the 3D printer in medicine.
The governments and grant-making foundations that see holistic health as a priority and enable disruptive innovation.
One of my favorite things about digital health is a sense that health and healthcare do not take place in a bubble. This acknowledgement that health is for our whole lives, and not just for the 15 minutes we may get with a primary care provider each year, is vital to the prevention of non-communicable diseases.
Health happens in grocery stores and schoolyards, in offices and kitchens. Generous funding from governments and foundations (e.g., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, etc.) helps to advance holistic healthcare – both on our smartphones, and around the world.
nuvi & Mo™
I’m a sucker for cute little robots with big heads – especially when they make me laugh at myself. Created by the folks at nuviun and illustrated by talented cartoonist Christian Mirra, nuvi personifies digital health. He tells us what our digital devices might say to us when we’re lazy, and it’s grounded in behavior change theory. nuvi, thank you for bringing innovation to health education and a smile to my face.
FitBit, not just for being one of the most popular wearables, but for recognizing the need for gathering evidence of its efficacy.
FitBit, and a University of Southern California research team led by Carol Maguire, have joined forces in what could be the largest research study to date. Their aim is to have 1-10 million voluntary participants input their weight, measurements, and family history in a series of surveys—and then use FitBit, along with other apps, gadgets, and social media—to monitor and record lifestyle choices, activity levels, and trips to the hospital.
Researchers aim to get enough information to enable predictive analytics. They hope to develop strategies to prevent and treat all types of heart disease. With big data analysis, FitBit may develop new and more accurate ways of predicting cardiac episodes. The daily data from apps and accelerometers could give researchers access to information that FitBit wearers are already recording, and may allow the development of personalized tools to forecast the development of heart disease.
It’s a lofty goal, but with the technology already widely adopted, it seems within reach assuming participants trust that their privacy will be protected.
If this research team successfully recruits millions of participants who share their information honestly, FitBit will have proven a very worthwhile use for wearables and big data, and possibly saved lives around the world. Even if the project is not as successful as hoped, the team has designed a study of how digital health can monitor, and perhaps impact, the health of populations that future researchers may model.