RED HOT Contributors


Episode 38 – A Mission of Mass Integration


This CEO says…“We DON’T NEED More Innovation To Have Patient Impact in Digital Health”

An innovator himself, and someone who lives on the bleeding edge of technology, it pains the CEO of Validic, Drew Schiller to say this. But he is firm on the greater importance of integration over innovation – specific to today’s growing world of mobile healthcare apps and devices.

“We need to be innovative…about how we integrate.”

He takes our conversation back in time, reflecting on the Palm Treo of 2005. An early smartphone, which did almost everything that many of today’s phones do today. It had a touchscreen, Bluetooth, side-loading apps, a camera, a camcorder, email, and texting.

“It did nearly all of the things we do on our phones today, but it was not very focused from a design perspective…and it was a real pain in the ass to use.”

In contrast, Schiller credits the monster success of the IPhone, released in 2007 and hit its stride in 2010, in large part to its ease-of-use from being a fully-integrated stack. It wasn’t mass improvement on new functionality…but in how well Apple integrated the existing features for better user experience.

And when we think of all the companies that capture and integrate consumer and patient-generated health data, we need to think about Validic. Schiller heads a company whose connection platform, now receives patient-generated health data from more than 400 major data sources that collectively reach 223 million individuals in 52 different countries.

On THIS episode of the Red Hot Healthcare podcast, I spoke at length with Schiller. He spoke about the explosive future for mobile health. health consumerism, and the bigger picture in capturing and integrating consumer and patient data.

In this episode, Dr. Steve and CEO Drew Schiller tap into:

  • Why data integration can be more powerful than innovation
  • The power and positioning of Validic’s platform and offering
  • Reading between the lines on mobile health’s marketing ‘spin’
  • The relationship between mobile health and consumerism
  • Drew’s insight on improving patient engagement

A show snippet below, includes part of the discussion on fuzzy math, perceived use of mobile applications and devices, as well as patient engagement.

DREW SCHILLER: “We have technology that we use every day, and it’s integrated seamlessly into our lives. For example backup cameras on our calls – technology that was gimmicky at first, and has become a part of my life – but I no longer think about it.

In order for us to truly engage patients in their health care, patient-generated health data, the devices, and the way we engage patients in the healthcare system, has to move into a phase where it fits seamless in our lives. For patients, it will just be something easy to do.”

DR. STEVE: “Drew, those are great points – and I want to add something else that’s been my personal observation.

With respect to patient data and remote monitoring, one of the things I notice from mobile app and wearable companies is a marketing spin going on. It goes something like this…

88% of all Americans have a mobile phone. 66% of all Americans look up health-related information on the internet, therefore…there will be a tremendous desire for everyone to want to download their medical records and to also submit their patient-generated health data.

You know, if you take away medical implants and focus on elective use medical devices, clearly I don’t see all patients and health consumers anxious to supply this data…at least right now.

Maybe you can comment on some of this fuzzy math out there.”

DREW SCHILLER: “I think the device manufacturers have done a really solid job at identifying a problem, and building a solution for that problem. The challenge is that they haven’t actually solved the problem for the patient.

You can actually use these devices to monitor your condition and to improve your health. But it’s often difficult to get the data into the healthcare system in a meaningful way.

To be effective, the patients really need to be part of a program of health with their provider – that incorporates these devices with a defined reason and goal. So when we partnered with Sutter Health on a diabetes pilot, they had 100% compliance with this program.

This was because they had a defined goal, and the patient, provider and care manager were on board. This can’t be a situation where we just have apps and device companies making a solution to solve a problem for collecting data – this has to be a holistic approach.

I would actually argue that we don’t actually need any new innovation around apps and devices today. The technology will certainly get better and better, but the bigger impact for patients will come from making their data accessible in a meaningful way.”

DR. STEVE: “The only thing I would add to that is that these patients [from the Sutter Health study]are participating because they have decided that it’s valuable and important TO them.

All of these studies and patient/consumer participation are tremendously important – and I agree completely with you, per your point on innovation. But something at the core of it all is still missing…that is, what motivates humans to make a decision and attribute greater valuation.

We know it’s valuable and important to mobile app and device companies, certainly because it needs to be so they can stay in business. But there’s a lot of patients that need to be engaged in supplying their data, and we really haven’t targeted them cognitively on driving action and behavior.”


 I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Steve Ambrose on a podcast that covered a range of topics in healthcare information technology. The podcast logistics – communications, interview questions, scheduling and production – were every well managed.
A great experience that I would do again in an instance.

Dr. John Glaser
SVP, Population Health at CERNER

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