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If you search on the phrase “killer app”, you will find a definition along the lines of a feature, function, or application of a new technology or product that is presented as virtually indispensable. The two essential components of the killer app being:

1. Competitive features and function
2. Indispensability

Before diving into the healthcare part of this, it is worth mentioning one of the all-time great killer apps in consumer technology: The Sony Walkman.

Unlike the stereo system in your bedroom, it fit into a backpack, and you could take it with you. Additionally, you could listen to music of your own choosing whenever you wanted, as opposed to whatever the radio played. And by 1983, cassette tapes had outsold vinyl—so you could get virtually any album to play on it, which made it even more indispensable in the market.

Competitive Features and Functions in Medical Technology
Considering some of medtech’s great killer apps over the last 15 years—from remote monitoring systems for cardiac pacing to molecular diagnostics using the human genome—there is a common denominator that threads across the features and functions of these products. Simply put, they have slowly but surely become more centered around individual patients and their lives.

Whether it was the Bluetooth-enabled data uploads that were patient-triggered (from the nightstand!) in early remote monitoring or the patient’s own biology that led to improved diagnosis, it’s easy to identify “patient-centric” features and functions. But historically, a practical challenge to even the most novel diagnostics and therapies becoming indispensable in the market was that patients had minimal role in determining product value. This is rapidly changing in the digital era.

How the Connected Patient Will Define Value in our Future
Alec Ross, the author of NYT bestseller Industries of the Future, has an intriguing way of looking at our eras of progress and the markets that revolved around them—basically, it comes down to raw materials and who has owned them. In the agricultural age, landowners owned the farmland; in the industrial age, corporations owned the iron. Today, in the digital age, individuals own data. And in the digital era of medicine, patients and their data underlie the volume-to-value transformation…starting right now.

Why now? Because every single connected consumer in the US is a patient at some point. But as importantly, patient-consumers have integrated healthcare into their daily lives and are exhibiting new behaviors because of it. For example, Google has reported that “healthcare where and when I want it”-type searches have surged since 2013, and in 2016 the majority of health-related searches shifted from web to mobile for the first time in history.

If healthcare technology is becoming integrated into the real life of patients, the way we measure health outcomes should reflect this shift.

This takes us full-circle, back to patients and their digital data and why they are key to our value-based future—with their help, their data can be used to quantify and enhance health outcomes outside of clinic walls, so we can finally see what’s working, or not, in the real life of patients. And if real life patient data is redefining health outcomes, and outcomes are the basis of value-based care, then connected patients are the virtually indispensable component of healthcare in the 21st century. I.e., the connected patient is the killer app in the digital age of medicine….as the famous Sony Walkman ad said, “There’s a revolution in the streets.”

Ochsner Health System is an Evidation Health partner and Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic healthcare system. To learn more about their medical expertise and innovationOchsner’s digital health capabilities, visit ochsner.org and ochsner.org/io.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

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