Ensuring that patients are taking their meds correctly has long been a challenge for providers, as it can often be the difference between a prescription’s success or failure when it comes to addressing the targeted condition or disease.
But while a new AI-driven monitoring system from US health plan Cigna aims to take big steps toward resolving that challenge, some experts fear that the new technology could also work against the interest of millions of patients.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “(t)he product, called Health Connect 360, integrates data from a combination of sources and analytical tools and was originally developed for treatment of chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, as well as for pain management. The system aggregates medical, pharmacy, lab and biometric data—such as information from glucometers, which measure blood-sugar levels—into a dashboard that is accessible through an online interface.”
Via that interface, doctors and nurses will be able to constantly keep an eye on patients' health and step in when they have cause for concern. For example, an alert may be triggered if patients forget to pick up their prescription or miss an appointment.
The tool also combines algorithms “with predictive models to generate recommendations and ways to best engage a patient, whether through an app or in person.”
That’s the positive potential, but in what might be the perfect example of how advances in health IT can cut more than one way at once, patient privacy advocates have expressed reservations about the uses to which an insurance company such as Cigna might put the new tool.
For example, Sam Smith, from the UK medical data campaign group MedConfidential, recently observed to the UK DailyMailOnline an insurer's interests are not necessarily the same as those of doctors or patients.
“Reducing payouts and increasing premiums is what insurance companies do, and they’ve always tried to use new technologies to do more of both,” Smith argued, adding, “As monitoring from this app is used for one thing, it will be attractive to employers to monitor their staff even more - a digital dystopia masquerading as healthcare.”
Still, in the WSJ article, Matthew Josefowicz, chief executive of research and advisory firm Novarica Inc., noted managing chronic conditions is much less expensive than engaging in some kind of corrective procedure.
“Across the health-care industry, as with every industry, the incredible growth in data availability and ability to communicate enables new kinds of interventions that were just too cost-prohibitive to even consider before,” Mr. Josefowicz said.