HHS meets some PETS: Patient-empowering technologies

Aug. 29, 2018

HHS Deputy Secretary Eric D. Hargan hosted the department’s first PETS summit and nary a dog nor cat was in sight.

But there were entrepreneurs and providers who are using smartphones, software IT, and AI to help empower patients to take control of their health and improve their well-being. These tools are fondly known in Deputy Secretary Hargan’s office as patient-empowering technologies, or PETS.

The summit included entrepreneurs and health providers for the purpose of exchanging facts and information so the department could better understand technological innovations that could benefit Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Making technology accessible to patients so they can better manage their own health plays a role in Secretary Alex Azar’s initiative to transform the U.S. healthcare system into one that pays for value.

“Chronic disease is the most significant cause of patient disability and is also the most significant source of patient cost. Many chronic diseases are preventable, manageable, and treatable when patients are empowered with the right information, tools and support,” Hargan told the summit participants. And he acknowledged that influencing patient behavior is hard work.

Companies presenting at the summit included Livongo, Trainer Rx, Preventice Solutions, Medisafe, AbleTo, and Cohero Health. Depending on their target populations, their various devices can help patients keep their medications straight, contact a doctor, and alter their diet; or provide alerts to patients, caregivers and family members; or locate and reach out to connect vulnerable individuals to mental health specialists. Some provide personalized coaching, as well as coordinating care with a patient’s family.

Representatives of HHS at the summit included senior leaders from NIH, AHRQ, CTO, ONC, FDA, and CMS.

Deputy Secretary Hargan told the entrepreneurs, “We’re here to learn where you all have been successful in this area, what has worked, what hasn’t. … We’d like to know the barriers you all face.”

As he said, “HHS, like you, is looking to give patients technology with which they can better manage their health.”

HHS.gov has the blog