It Takes a Village @DigitalHlth_Guy

About the Book

Our smartphones are changing the way we manage our health, democratizing healthcare and better connecting us to everything we need to get and stay healthy. But what happens when we are all connected and how do we plugin? It Takes a Villages checks in with healthcare’s top thought leaders to capture and share their insights on who is doing what and how you can benefit. Innovation never rests. From devices to artificial intelligence, providers to innovators and everything in between. Learn how to leverage healthcare innovation from a pop culture take that anyone can relate to. All you need is your smartphone. Plugin and get connected. To your health!

About the Author

Kevin Pereau is a leading consumer advocate in healthcare, digital health expert and author of ‘The Digital Health Revolution’ and its sequel, ‘It Takes a Village’. He spent the early part of his career managing strategy and management consulting firms with a speciality focus on technology. His first health technology company was a consumer health scoring firm whose mission was to provide longitudinal context around how what we do and how we feel affects who we are. “You can’t manage, what you don’t measure” is something Pereau is fond of saying and for that, you need a scoring system.

Qn 1: Can you tell us more about your book What is it about?

These books are about how our smartphones are changing the way ordinary people manage their health. Dr. Eric Topol says our smartphones are democratizing healthcare in much the same way that Guttenberg’s printing press did for written information in the 14th century. He is right. We can now connect to a cornucopia of resources that can help us get and stay healthy. This is as interesting to a person monitoring a chronic condition as it is to somebody fit and healthy.

Qn 2: Who do you think would be interested in this book, is it directed at any particular market?

These books are about how our smartphones are changing the way ordinary people manage their health. Dr Eric Topol says our smartphones are democratizing healthcare in much the same way that Guttenberg’s printing press did for written information in the 14th century. He is right. We can now connect to a cornucopia of resources that can help us get and stay healthy. This is as interesting to a person monitoring a chronic condition as it is to somebody fit and healthy.

Qn 3: Out of all the books in the world, and all the authors, which are your favourite and why?

Let’s start with healthcare 🙂 I am a huge fan of Dr Eric Topol and Dr Nadine Burke- Harris. Topol has written a series of books that takes us on a journey. From digitizing healthcare to democratizing healthcare and then on to deep learning through artificial intelligence. The biggest difference between our writings is that he is a doctor and goes deep. He writes about healthcare FOR healthcare. I keep it at a higher level and try to be more relatable. Dr Nadine Burek Harris has written two of the most inspirational books I have seen on the market and forces us to confront a harsh truth about healthcare…It is really sick care and we are treating symptoms, not root causes. She has pioneered a concept called ACE Scoring. It stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences and it is a concept that is going mainstream. In my second book; It Takes a Village, I interviewed Austin Buettner, who runs the LAUSD. He is a genius. He has taken Dr Burke’s concepts and applied them to real-world situations. He asked if we had access to college counselling as a resource when I was in high school in upstate Vermont. Because of Dr Burke-Harris’ influence, LAUSD has added mental health resources and social services to the resources they offer children. He recognized the lifelong effects that nutrition has on children and completely retooled their lunch program and vending machines. He also boldly recognized that hungry children can’t learn as well as others so he pioneered partnerships that sent at-risk children home with free meals. If they had brothers and sisters, they went home with meals for them as well. This one interview brought a tear to my eyes and made me realize my books were important. Buettner has created a template that schools across America can now emulate. He did more but those are the highlights.

Qn 4: What guidance would you offer to someone new, or trying to enhance their writing?

Two things: 1) Be true to yourself and the subject matter. Your passion and energy will shine through. and 2) Get an editor to clean up your diction. Even the most intelligent of us can come across as clumsy when we are blurting out ideas. 

Qn 5: Where can our readers find out more about you, do you have a website, or a way to be contacted?

We do have a website… and… but we are now everywhere. Amazon, Kindle, Google, Powell’s Books, Barnes & Noble. What a difference a successful book makes. There was a wide-open lane for a pop culture take on healthcare and I seem to own it. My books are used at healthcare conferences worldwide and at major universities like Cal Berkely. Evidently, people like to hear from industry icons and thought leaders, especially when they can relate to them.

Qn 6: What is the most challenging aspect of healthcare provision as we increasingly move into a move digital world.

We have probably cleared some of the most challenging of our hurdles…1) Getting people to engage and 2) Getting the industry incumbents to embrace the disruption. We are now on the cusp of what I call actionable data and the potential is staggering. For example, Virta Health has now reversed type 2 diabetes for over 100,000 people. What better way is there to reduce our overall healthcare costs in America than completely eliminating the need for costly insulin?  They didn’t do it alone. In the marketplace that Anthem is building, a member with diabetes can select a tool like Virta to manage their diabetes. The data they share with Virta hits an AI (artificial intelligence) driven platform they call Sydney. It is one of the most exciting developments in the “actionable data” era I have seen. Sydney recognizes that bouts of depression can sometimes fuel bad lifestyle choices for people with diabetes and will connect you to other digital assets like Happify to help you through these dark periods. Further to that, it recognizes when you need a coach to simply talk to. Add into this nutrition tools like Noom and Jenny Craig and you realize you are now able to meet that person with diabetes where they are and when they need you most. It isn’t all a technology play. Meal delivery firms are now working with health plans to provide you with free, nutritious meals. Who says no to free meals? What makes this all possible is your decision to share your health data with Sydney and then benefit instantly from what Sydney connects you to.

Qn 7: Thinking about several recent cyber events that rocked several Health organisations, how can digital providers and enablers instil confidence in the end-users of health care services.

HIPAA exists for a reason. It is to protect your health data and ensure it will never be used without your permission or against you. That said, an interesting tension has developed and it has been good for everyone. The incumbents who always had our data (insurance firms and hospitals) never had a plan for re-using it or making it actionable for our benefit. They honestly believed THEY owned OUR data. The digital health revolution stood that on its head. Our data was indeed our data. We could share it with whomever we want if we felt like they could help us get and stay healthy. There will always be bad actors who hack into systems. They seem to be targeting the incumbents more than the digital health start-ups who have their data hosted by the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Force who know data security. Hackers will always follow the money and hack–Innovators will always do their best to repel them. There isn’t a system in the world (not emails, no faxes, not phone calls, not in-person visits) that is 100% foolproof. I have confidence in the digital health providers because they typically partner with tech behemoths who get it.

Qn 8: Change always brings risk, but without it, we will never see improvements. What is the best message to convince others to follow a path of change?

Probably the most important message is that plugging in and connecting has never been easier. All you need is your smartphone. The benefits of tracking nutrition, sleep, stress, fitness and chronic conditions are practically immediate and always measurable. These are YOUR tools for YOUR benefit. 

Qn 9: What has been the most rewarding experience in your career working with healthcare firms?

Convincing them to put our needs first. Every healthcare system in the world recognizes the best practice approach of what comprises a vibrant healthcare system. They are TOTAL ACCESS TO QUALITY, AFFORDABLE CARE. Our corresponding threats are 1) Healthcare inequities (where you live matters) 2) Vendor greed 3) The politics of healthcare and 4) Physician burnout. 

Qn 10: What do you plan to do next?

My next book will be about healthcare’s unicorns. I will dive deeper into the stories of those firms that are really making a difference. Virta Health reversing type 2 diabetes is huge. Mom’s Meals delivering nutritious meals directly to your home that your health plan pays for is huge. The US of Care advocating policy for those without a voice is huge. ConsejoSano working hard to deliver care to our immigrant communities is huge. In Europe, Nuffield Health opening up fitness centres, nutrition centres and mental health clinics are huge….we need more of this kind of advocacy and tenacity. Solving complex problems is incredibly challenging. Conservatives don’t want any part of it and Progressives to oversimplify and focus only on one fundamental problem, Our healthcare policy should be rooted in healthcare goals. 

Beyond that, I seem to be catching a second stride here as a speaker and voice of healthcare for everyday people. Who knows, maybe a policy role–LOL–my wife just popped in and said “We aren’t moving to DC”!!! There you have it 🙂

1 Comment

  1. I hope you have as much fun reading these books as I had in writing them. Interviewing healthcare’s top thought leaders was an honor and privilege. Catch up with their perspectives and insights in The Digital Health Revolution and It Takes a Village.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.