CONNECTIONS™ Industry Insights

Buying Smart Technology Through New Channels - Insights from Mayo Clinic

by Parks Associates | Jun. 3, 2019

Prior to Parks Associates’ 23rd-annual CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference, Sean Kane, Client Engagement Manager, Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions spoke with the firm’s analyst team to his thoughts on independent living in the smart home.

Sean participated on the Special Session: Independent Living in the Smart Home panel on Wednesday, May 22, at 3:30 PM. Panelists who joined him on this session included:

Jeff Cutler, Chief Commercial Officer, Ada Health
Chris Gibbons, MD, Founder and CEO, The Greystone Group, Inc.
Chuck Hector, Chief Revenue Officer, Papa
Josh Locke, Director of Sales, Essence USA

Q: In developing smart home service offerings, how might service providers be thinking about partnership alignments that enable differentiation without the heavy investment of building everything from scratch?

A: As a healthcare organization, our primary mission is to deliver the best clinical care to our patients and for my department to provide the most current and credible content on health information and wellness to all consumers (patients or otherwise). Thus, our approach in providing trusted health information has been to work with best-in-class collaborators and providers of the technology with Mayo Clinic’s content “inside”. This is especially true with new technologies such as voice. We see our department's role as the provider of clinically-validated, evidence-based content for voice and other digital-channel interactions, but other companies would be creating the (technology) experiences. Mayo Clinic has created a First Aid skill that is available in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant enabled devices. This skill provides care guidance on hundreds of common non-emergent questions. We’ve also created a comprehensive conversational health information for Alexa devices and it’s ready for distribution across any voice-enabled device.

Q: What role will “white glove” or “last mile” services play to help onboard mass market consumers buying smart technology through new channels, such as homebuilders, insurance, energy, and healthcare?

A: This will be very important in healthcare, especially for larger healthcare organizations like Mayo Clinic. Some patients now expect technology to be a part of their visit, and for their physician(s) to be connected to them electronically at all times. If a hospital or healthcare organization is going to release a voice skill, for example, they will need to take extra steps to make sure that the experience replicates what a person might experience should he or she receive from call a doctor or reviewing content online through a website or a portal.

Q: As the number of connected devices in consumers’ lives increase each year, what solutions need to be created to allay rising consumer concerns around data security and privacy?

A: As we have all seen the news over the past few months regarding HIPAA compliance in voice devices, there are still many questions around security for healthcare that need to be answered. Some of the more obvious concerns around voice devices delivering health-related content include listening privacy (or not), listener identification, etc. It’s important and exciting to see many of these concerns being addressed, but it may still take some time to work through the data security and privacy components. Mayo Clinic is running a number of internal pilots to better understand some of these elements, but nothing that’s ready to talk about today. For the consumer, be mindful about which tech you allow into your life, your home, your office. Check what voice data is retained, and how to monitor it or delete it. Make sure you understand when the device is actively listening. Know the risks for security and privacy, and when unknown, consider pulling the plug.

Q: With the rollout of 5G technologies nearing, what impact will this technology have on connected consumers?

A: As we see things like 5G expand across the U.S., I anticipate that this will bring more connectedness to more rural areas where access to healthcare is more challenging – this is really exciting because it will allow those in need to get care when and where they need it most. These kinds of advancements geographically and socio-economically will help individuals, as well as population health.

Q: As the smart home experience expands outside the home, how will the role of the car evolve as part of the smart home ecosystem?

A: It’s a creative opportunity, but as voice technologies within a car expand, I could see the car as an extension of a doctor’s office or Emergency Department visit. Imagine… as you drive to your appointment or to the ED, you could one day be able to communicate critical or relevant information to providers in advance of arrival. In some situations, this could lead to more responsive care for urgent matters or knowledge sharing with relevant information. Lyft and Uber are doing a lot in this space by partnering with hospitals—and this should only expand as these technologies evolve.

Q: What impact will emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and blockchain have on the smart home? What are the associated challenges with implementing these technologies in the home?

A: One interesting technology that Mayo Clinic has been researching is the use of voice as a biomarker for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Working with Beyond Verbal, Mayo Clinic studied how certain markers in human voice may determine Coronary Artery Disease and/or susceptibility to a cardiac event. The impacts of voice biomarkers indicating—or even predicting a future—health event are tremendous as they relate to telemedicine and rural patient care.

Q: With smart home adoption flattening in 2018, what must the industry do to reach new buyers?

A: Although smart home adoption flattened in 2018, the headlines show millions of voice assistants are already in our homes. A 2019 Voice Report from Microsoft reports that 69% of people they surveyed had used a voice assistant; 75% of households will have at least one smart speaker by 2020; and over half of consumers expect their digital assistant to help make retail purchases within the next 5 years. This data shows that consumerism, including healthcare, is taking the next step into voice. 41% of users in that same Microsoft report, stated that they have concerns about trust, privacy, and passive listening so there is still a larger gap to make up before users will fully divulge their healthcare information.

Q: What innovations have you seen that will address the existing needs of the elderly to enable independent living in the smart home?

A: One of the larger advancements we’ve seen is some companies are utilizing clone devices to participate in “proactive voice” versus the traditional “reactive voice” with Alexa-enabled devices. As an example of what we mean by proactive vs. reactive, these companies are leveraging data from their platforms to establish push content – or triggered content – based on that data. For example, leveraging voice to push out medication reminders, motivations for someone to get up and be mobile, or ask question such as “do you want to listen to music?” We feel proactive voice could be taken even further with interactive care plans, discharge instructions, or pre-surgical prep.As the video screen based devices like the Echo Show, Google Home video grow, still a small percentage of all voice devices, you could see the ability for voice devices to produce content that the elderly would rather digest.




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