Amazon recently announced that snarky Alexa is now HIPAA-complaint meaning she can now be a patient’s healthcare coach. So besides being able to order more Tide a patient will be able to ask Alexa “What’s my blood sugar?” Invariably we can envision Alexa not just answering the blood sugar question but offering tips to the patient on how they can better manage their diabetes.
We also imagine that Siri and the Google assistant and not to digress, but Google really needs a sexy name for their device, will also gain this capability. Yes, the day is coming when a patient besides doing all the things they must do to manage their diabetes will have whatever voice-enabled digital assistant they have telling them what to do as well.
On the flip side Walgreens and CVS in an attempt to battle what Amazon is doing also wants to become the patient’s coach. They know it’s just a matter of time before Amazon and snarky Alexa is able to refill prescriptions provide testing supplies, CGM sensors and insulin pump supplies. As more devices move from the DME side to the pharmacy benefit side this is inevitable.
Walgreens and CVS already understand the value of patients with diabetes and does not want to lose this valuable revenue stream. Besides the revenue generated from refilling prescriptions these patients generate a healthy revenue stream from non-diabetes items they purchase when they go to pick up their meds. Both companies also believe they can generate even more revenue from performing many of the blood tests a patient needs. The in-store clinic can bill payors for things like an HbA1c test and then further bill the payor and/or device companies for training patients to use their devices.
Let’s also not forget about the many way cool whiz bang apps and efforts provided by payors to help the patient better manage their diabetes. Yes it seems that everyone has a vested interest in helping the patient better manage their diabetes. Everyone that is except for the patient. Hence the reason we believe that while these efforts could do some good most will fail. As each in their own way ignores the real-world aspects of diabetes management and are not designed with that in mind.
Not sure how many times we have to say this, but diabetes management has never been and never will be about the how to. Diabetes management and better patient outcomes has been and always will be about the want to. These patients can get all the help and advice in the world but if they do not follow this advice, if they do not act this advice is pointless.
Now think of what would happen if any of these companies changed the paradigm and gave the patient a reason to follow this advice. Think of a conversation like this;
Alexa- David your current blood sugar is 110 and based on your G6 readings we’ve noticed that you’re in range 85% of the time good job.
David- Why thank you Alexa.
Alexa- David we aren’t sure if you knew this but if you can keep your sugars in that range for another two weeks you qualify for a discount on your next Amazon order.
David – No I wasn’t aware of that thanks for bringing that to my attention.
Alexa- My pleasure would you like some tips on how to achieve that goal.
David – No thanks I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and think I’m good but thanks for offering.
Alexa- Seriously David I can help you should listen to me.
Siri- Alexa didn’t you hear what David said why are you so damn pushy.
Alexa- You stay out of this Siri David is my guy and I’m helping him.
Siri – Well I hate to break the news to you Alexa but besides seeing David’s G6 readings on his iPhone I also see them on his Apple Watch making it easier for me to help him as he doesn’t have to be near you to get help. So do yourself and David a favor stick to ordering more Tide.
Alexa- Listen Siri I’m offering David an incentive to stay in range what the hell are you offering.
Siri – Alexa besides being snarky you are also clueless as I have already rewarded David for his good readings giving him credits towards iTunes.
Alexa – But you can’t refill his scripts, send him more sensors or more pods. So take that.
Siri – Maybe not today but that’s about to change.
David – Ladies please I do appreciate the help you both offer so no reason to get into a snit.
Siri- Your right David as I know you like me more anyway.
Alexa – Fat chance Siri David has always liked me more and you know it.
David – Ladies please I like you both just for different reasons so let’s all just get along.