If you asked anyone ten years ago what technology would look like today, you would get some answers that truly missed the mark. A decade ago, almost nobody could have predicted that millions of people would be wearing watches that not only tell time, but also check your email, answer phone calls and text messages, track your exercise routines, and check the weather report. What is even more interesting is that even the developers of these new technologies didn’t fully understand the seemingly endless possibilities this new wearable technology could be applied to.
A leading innovator in the healthcare industry has set her sights on the potential benefits such technology might play within the complex healthcare industry. Deirdre Baggot, Ph.D., MBA, RN, is one of the leading experts in the structure of healthcare. She is a respected advisor and consultant in developing new ways of streamlining the far too complex healthcare system. Her most notable work has been through the development and implementation of healthcare bundles – a payment system that drastically improves the cost and effectiveness of formerly complicated, but common treatments by bundling the many doctors and facilities needed for the procedures under one easy and affordable payment.
She saw that the experience of patients nationwide varied greatly depending on a number of factors. Whether patients were seeking routine care or emergency services, the problem remained the same – the healthcare system as we know it is complicated. Through her work, she has gained an intimate knowledge of the way the industries many services are coded and billed along with the ins and outs of insurance payments. Her years of experience on the ground level of the healthcare industry has given her the ability to grasp such a complex system. Her knowledge and experience have allowed her to transition into a role as a spokesperson for innovation in the healthcare field.
Who is Deirdre Baggot, Ph.D., MBA, RN?
Her depth of knowledge has helped Baggot become one of the healthcare industry’s most respected voices on the subject of bundled payments and alternative payment models. She is the former leader of ECG Management Consultant’s bundled payments practice; she has supported a number of large national employers in the design and implementation of value-based payments; and, she was sought out by NY Medicaid to design their approach to bundled payments pilots. In addition, she was appointed expert reviewer by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the Bundled Payments for Care Initiative and has served as the lead for the Acute Care Episode Bundled Payment Demonstration. As a result of her pioneering work in the field, she is frequently invited to be a keynote speaker on the topic at events in and around the country.
Before joining ECG, she spent 10 years in academic healthcare. She began her education at the Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. While there, she received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Nursing. She also has an MBA from Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado in Denver.
Baggot’s career began at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 1997. She was a staff nurse, resource coordinator, and manager of their hospital administration group. Six years later, she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan and began working for the University of Michigan Health System. She has held a leadership position for over ten years at the University of Michigan Health System and the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Academic Healthcare. In 2006, Deirdre Baggot moved to Denver, Colorado to become the senior administrator of the Cardiac and Vascular Institute of SCL Health. Her work at the institute has helped hundreds of people in the organization and improved business development, payer contracting, marketing, acquisitions, recruiting and more. She only spent four years as Senior Administrator, before moving on to a position at GE Healthcare Partners. It was here that she made her mark in the field of bundled healthcare having improved their healthcare payment system. Of her many projects at GE Healthcare Partners, the most notable was when she was able to grow annual revenues for a payment consulting organization to $6.6 million. GE Healthcare acquired the Camden Group where Baggot spent 6 years as Senior Vice President and practice leader for bundled payments. Over the years she has written over twenty academic papers on bundled payments, healthcare reform, and payment transformation. She has also been a featured expert on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Planet Money.
In her time with the healthcare system, she has created relationships with many clients and designed and implemented her programs and strategies in over 200 hospitals around the country. For her work, Baggot has received national recognition. As mentioned previously, she has been a keynote speaker for many medical conferences, including The American Heart Association, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, American College of Healthcare Executives, Innovation Summit, SAS, Pay for Performance Summit, Bundled Payment Congress, and Bundled Payment Summit. Over the course of her career, Deirdre Baggot has worked in several healthcare related fields and continues to be involved in the many issues facing healthcare reform. She leverages her strengths as a healthcare business strategist and healthcare payment expert to problem solve technology-based solutions within the industry. With such an extensive background in healthcare business strategy, coupled with her use of technology to develop solutions for some of the inefficiencies within the system, Baggot is always looking for the next big gamechanger. The healthcare industry trend that interests her the most is the untapped potential of wearable technology.
Wearables in Healthcare Today
On the whole, the role technology plays in our lives is growing rapidly. We are becoming evermore dependent on it and less willing to separate ourselves from it. The rise of wearable technology, from fitness trackers to smart watches, has been fueled by technology’s rapid evolution toward faster and smaller devices. If this trend tells us anything you, can expect to see people in the not too distant future wearing technology inside and outside of their bodies. So, it is inevitable that the healthcare industry will play a huge role in the expansion of such wearable technology into the medical field as well.
Today the most common wearables to monitor your health are the Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple Watch. These devices have become household names and are immediately recognizable to consumers. This first wave of wearable technology was primarily used for fitness, helping people to track daily steps, exercise levels, heart rate, and even sleep schedules. However, more medical applications like glucose monitoring for people with diabetes are already expected in newer models. Wearable technology is spreading beyond devices centered around healthy living –
Devices are beginning to be applied everywhere from patients’ homes to hospital beds, and though an old-fashioned trip to the doctor’s office is still the best method of preventing and monitoring health issues, wearable devices are putting more power in the hands of patients and doctors thanks to the insight and data they provide. The possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to wearable technology and it will continue to make its way into the healthcare industry.
As part of the bundling efforts Deirdre Baggot has been involved in, healthcare companies have been developing their own industry-specific devices to help improve their data gathering abilities. The industry already employs devices like wearable patches for ECG recording and cardiac monitoring. Progress in preventative care has also been made with the creation of the first-ever skin sensor that detects UVA and UVB exposure. These are just a couple of examples of how wearable devices not only help people keep track of their health, but also make it a fun experience gaining insight into their daily health and exercise levels. Wearables are becoming commonplace in hospitals as well. Doctors and nurses use wearables to constantly monitor patients’ vitals. These devices greatly increase efficiency and reduce the amount of time spent gathering data.
Wearables in the field of medicine have become more sophisticated than you may have suspected. In 2017, the FDA approved the first pill with a sensor that can track and record critical data that was previously difficult – the pill can obtain information soon after the patient has swallowed it. It is called the Abilify MyCite and it is embedded with an ingestible sensor that transmits messages to a wearable patch. The patch then transmits information to a mobile application. The industry has high hopes for this technology in the treatment of some mental health disorders and chronic diseases like diabetes since following a regimented medication schedule is a challenge for these populations.
Another wearable that is used in hospitals is a compact portable upgrade to traditional monitoring devices. The Zephyr Anywhere’s BioPatch is an FDA-approved device that can track a patient’s conditions minute-by-minute as opposed to the limited four to eight-hour monitoring window patients would have to undergo while at the hospital. This wearable attaches to a patient’s chest and monitors their health. If there is a change in the health or condition of a patient, nurses and doctors are notified immediately via the patch linked to a smartphone. This wearable allows patients to leave the hospital with the comfort of knowing their health is being monitored 24 hours a day.
Though it was marketed for the mainstream, Google Glass has become an unexpected hit with doctors. Baggot has taken note of how technology like this can streamline operations. Its popularity in the medical field took off in 2017 when Google unveiled the Glass Enterprise Edition, which was specifically targeted at businesses. Healthcare companies began utilizing Glass in combination with a remote scribe to allows doctors to simply wear the device and talk to their patients. The technology removes a great deal of tedious administrative work like note-taking. This is a huge breakthrough since patient-record keeping is extremely time-consuming for doctors.
The Future of Wearables
Many private, public, and government entities within the realm of healthcare are looking toward the potential wearables hold for the industry. Baggot is specifically interested in the system improvements that the technology can bring in regards to improving patient outcomes. The FDA, for example, is investing heavily in the development of digital health applications and wearables. Industry professionals and experts are working together with technology companies in an effort to revolutionize digital health regulation and allow these companies to create new digital health software and wearable technology. Even futurists have been shaping the conversation on what wearables will be able to do for us in the future and how they should be used to improve our health.
Some ideas are far-fetched, while others are basically already in the works. For the outlandish ideas, we just may not be ready for them yet. The industry will be forced to create an entirely new set of guidelines and laws to address the ethical, moral, and security issues associated with wearable technology.
Some of the best concepts are disguised as jewelry, taking a cue from the smartwatch. With continued advancements in miniaturization, experts are hoping that normal-looking objects like earrings will be able to track your heart rate, body temperature, and blood oxygen levels to provide medical professionals and patients with vital health statistics. Sensors imbedded in clothing like a shirt or blouse will be able to monitor your physiology, like a high-tech mood ring. A mood shirt like this could potentially send data to mental health providers to prevent or reduce feelings of depression or even suicide. Insurance providers could even give discounts to individuals who remain positive and healthy. Advanced shoes will be able to convert movement into energy, in order to power any internal sensors that new wearable devices might require. Shoes like this could also cool and heat your feet as necessary, as well as track your exercise and any fluctuations in a patient’s weight.
Virtual assistants are already one of today’s most popular tech devices and they have some medical uses. In the future they may be built into contact lenses, increasing their ability to keep your life organized while learning a great deal of information about you. These improved personal assistants will be able to help with more medical issues by tracking more data. For example, they might one day be able to analyze your tears to understand your emotional reactions, predict your thoughts and intentions, and react accordingly, providing you what you need before you even know you need it. If you expand the number of imputes for a wearable personal assistant they become even more useful. Consider adding sensors on or under fingernails to track your movements. When combined with the contact lenses you can create a keyboard function for virtual screens, giving a user the ability to draw virtually in three dimensions or provide real-time haptic feedback for holographic interactions with doctors or patients.
For Deirdre Baggot, consumer wearables are an area that she is very passionate about. She sees the potential benefits that some of these futuristic ideas can provide for doctors, patients, and the healthcare sector as a whole. For her, wearables are envisioned as “an effective mechanism to engage patients and consumers in their own health and well-being.” She is excited for the promise the surge in wearable technology will bring to the healthcare industry. Some early versions of these future technologies have been in use for years with more streamlined and versatile options in development to better manage patient care. Right now, wearables can be divided into two distinct categories: personal fitness trackers and medical grade devices.
Beyond the big brand names that we all recognize, the healthcare industry stands behind the movement to use wearable tracking devices to increase daily exercise, count calories, and monitor sleep. The idea of taking healthcare into your own hands with the assistance of technology is still in its infancy. Baggot is particularly excited with this new attitude of engagement, noting that people who are willing to take a more active role in their own health and wellness will enjoy huge gains in quality of life down the road.
Within the industry, tech companies have made a tremendous impact in recent years, partnering with researchers and medical professionals to create devices that work to remotely monitor the health of at-risk patients. As we have seen, everything from medication compliance to blood sugar monitoring can be tracked via wearable devices, smartphone applications, and even smart pills. Patients who have limited mobility stand to benefit greatly from this new wave of technology since physicians can now provide more comprehensive care without the need for transportation to and from the office. Wearable technology is expected to help the United States aging population live comfortably and safely at home longer than previous generations and will help their mental health with an increased ability to stay connected. The future of wearable technology is bright and it seems that there is no limit to the useful applications this new technology will bring to the healthcare industry. Rest assured experts like Baggot will continue to utilize this new technology in future healthcare reforms in order to bring about positive changes to price and patient outcomes within the industry.
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