January 23, 2018

The Pulse of Digital Health at CES 2018

I got the chance to attend CES a few weeks ago and wow… as a first time CES-er, I’ve never experienced anything like it. Between the stellar speakers, 45-minute waits for a cab, and 184,000 attendees, I flew back to DC with my head spinning but with a new excitement on the latest and greatest in digital health innovation.

I focused my time on the health and wellness space, and I wasn’t disappointed. Digital Health was at the forefront of the exhibitions, with innovations in patient engagement, population health, wellness gadgets, and more.

Here are some of the key themes I heard over and over again during my 4 days at CES:


We’ve seen a shift away from wearables and fitness trackers towards devices that allow consumers to take their health into their own hands. It’s all about the consumer.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Nokia, and Philips talked about the need to not only create innovative products, but also create ones that are easy to use and palatable for consumers. A deeper level of personalization is going to be the key to driving consumers to take better care of themselves. They want information beyond how many steps they’ve taken in a day; they’re more interested in the impact of their actions and what they have potential to achieve. The goal should be long-term behavior change, which a single pedometer no longer provides.

United Healthcare and Rally Health talked about big data, and how they’re leveraging increased data analytics to further tailor their products and messaging to drive consumer engagement. Rally in particular, with spinning bikes laid out across their booth, focused on driving consumer engagement through “missions” on their Rally Engage app. They create custom challenges for employees and reward progress with coins that can be used on anything from an Amazon gift card to extra vacation days.


Mike Jacobs, Senior Distinguished Engineer with Optum Health, and Jaquie Finn, Head of Digital Health at Cambridge Consultants, took to the stage to share their perspective on the future of blockchain within healthcare. Both felt that there was promise and ample opportunity to leverage blockchain technology, but warned that we need to be careful with relevant use cases.

According to Jacobs and Finn, the greatest opportunity for blockchain in healthcare falls within the pharma and supply verticals, mostly to keep counterfeit drugs and supplies off the market. They talked about the opportunities for blockchain within both payments and patient records, and I think we’ll continue to see the use cases evolve for blockchain within healthcare.


We’ve seen a big shift in recent years to continuous monitoring within the home. With everything from in-home sensors to voice-activated devices like Alexa, there’s more opportunity than ever to track, intervene, and continuously monitor patients in the comfort of their own home.

The key, according to Humana’s VP of Consumer Innovation Stefani Benefield, is to ensure you’re maintaining consumers’ privacy and not eliciting the “creepiness” factor associated with continuous tracking. Most seniors, according to Benefield, are open to in-home devices as long as you explain it in a way that makes it easy for them to understand the benefits.

Overall, a valuable few days in Vegas. I think we’ll continue to see personalization evolve as more and more companies try to drive behavior change to influence better outcomes. I anticipate we’ll see a lot of this at HIMSS in early March. Elisabeth Beller, VP of Health and Wellness at 3Pillar, and I will be there and are excited about about the Patient Engagement and Experience Summit track. If you’re planning on attending HIMSS, please reach out to us – we’d love to hear your perspective.


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