Step into the world of CES and explore the cutting-edge innovations in digital health. Join industry experts as they discuss the trends, highlights, and transformative potential of digital health showcased at CES. From wearable devices to connected apps and sustainable technologies, dive into the future of healthcare and the exciting possibilities it holds for self-care.
Mike Tringale's title is now Senior Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs at CHPA.
- Episode Transcript
Anita Brikman: Hey, everyone, it's Anita Brikman and we have a wonderful episode coming your way. It's called The Most Influential Tech Event in the World, CES, the Consumer Electronic Show, owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association, CTA. CES is the showcase for breakthrough innovations, and digital health is increasingly a top feature.
This year CHPA was there to see it all. On today's podcast, CHPA's own Mike Tringale and Dr. Marcia Howard take us on a tour through some of the digital health highlights with a couple of very special guests.
Speaker 2: Welcome to CHPA Chat, conversations in the consumer healthcare industry with Anita Brikman.
Mike Tringale: Hello, and welcome to CHPA Chat. This is Mike Tringale, CHPA's Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. And I'm sitting here talking into a very sophisticated digital microphone, connected to a really high-tech desktop computer. And you are probably listening to me on your modern handheld music device or your digital watch, and it's all being streamed on the latest technology of internet wizardry.
But our access today all really began back in 1967, with the very first Consumer Electronics Show, CES. And you might wonder, what was on display back then? Well, how about a transistor radio you could wear on your wrist, or the very first VCR recorder, or a portable telephone and it only weighed 19 pounds and cost $2,000.
Marcia Howard: And I'm Marcia Howard, CHPA's Vice President of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs. And I have to say, Mike, technology and CES certainly have come a long way since that first CES in 1967. Today the CES trade show has grown into an annual gathering of nearly 200,000 attendees from around the world, with over 3,600 exhibitors. Executives, consumers, and the media can all see the latest innovations the tech industry has to offer at this show in Las Vegas.
And now digital health has become a top draw at CES, and it's one of the fastest growing sectors of the tech industry, and one of the most interesting too.
Mike Tringale: You know, that's right, Marcia. And I know that you attended in person this year. I attended virtually. But CHPA partnered with CTA to host what they called a curated digital health experience, which was a private tour of CES, customized to get a glimpse of that really expansive digital health pavilion.
And that's why, Marcia, you and I today are joined by two very special guests who were there as well. And we're going to talk to them about some of the digital health innovations, insights and some of the highlights from that program. Our first guest is Jamie Barickman, President and CEO at infirst Healthcare, a member of CHPA's Board of Directors, and Pete Borsuk, President and CFO of Lansinoh Laboratories, who's also a member of CHPA's Board of Directors and chair of CHPA's Consumer Medical Devices Council. Jamie and Pete, welcome to you both.
Pete Borsuk: Thank you. Happy to be here.
James Barickman: Thanks for having me.
Mike Tringale: Folks, let's kick this off with some nostalgia. You got to tell me, what was the very first piece of personal computer tech that you ever purchased for yourself, and how old were you. Pete?
Pete Borsuk: Well, I remember I was probably about 12-years-old and I had this small gaming device. It had Space Invaders and it may have had about 12 different blobs on there that I can control with my fingers. And I would bring that to school and it was the envy of all of my friends. And it's amazing just how fast technology changes.
Mike Tringale: Yeah, it is. And Jamie, what about you?
James Barickman: Okay, now you're really going to date me. When I think about it, I think it was a walkie-talkie, a Man From U.N.C.L.E, walkie-talkie. And I think I was about eight-years-old. And it was the coolest thing, and allowed me to be playing secret agent for hours and hours and hours around the neighborhood.
Mike Tringale: I hope that's still somewhere in your family. For me, it was in 1975. I was actually born in '66, so one year before CES. And it was the Big Trak programmable dump truck that you could get, and it could go about two feet forward, two feet to the right. And I was high-tech back in 1975. Marcia, you got a story?
Marcia Howard: Well, I'm sad to say that I don't remember the first technology I bought, but I can remember the first gaming system I ever had was the Atari that I guess was supposed to be a tennis game. So that probably means I'm dating myself as too many years have gone by between then and now. But that was the first piece of technology I remember being in our home.
Mike Tringale: Well, clearly that's a lot of fun technology, but technology can also really help us in our lives and help us do our business better, particularly since we're in the business of healthcare.
So maybe, Pete, tell us a little bit about Lansinoh Laboratories. Let's start off with what does your company do and what is your interest in digital health?
Pete Borsuk: All right, yeah. Lansinoh was founded almost 40 years ago in the kitchen of a new mom. And since our inception, Lansinoh has provided best-in-class products used by breastfeeding mothers. Today we are the number one natural feeding brand in more than 40 countries. And our objective is helping new moms and babies get the best start in their new lives.
And our interest in digital health mirrors the interests of our consumer base. Even though we continue to get older, our consumer base of new moms never ages. And our consumer has grown up in this new digital age, and their expectations of technology are different than that what somewhat of my age may have come to expect. And we're venturing into this space with new products like a Smartpump that has a connected app that can help moms express more breast milk in a quicker time to help save them time.
Mike Tringale: Really interesting. And yes, very digital. You wouldn't have thought about that back when we were growing up. Great new innovation. And Jamie, infirst Health, tell us a little bit about what you do, what your interest in digital health is?
James Barickman: Sure. So infirst is a mid-sized consumer products company. We've got products in the adult and pediatric OTC space, primarily in digestive health. We also have a small portfolio of medical device products in the diabetes space. And while we currently don't have any digital health products in our portfolio, I think it's fair to say we are keenly interested in emerging self-care technologies because we're looking at those technologies that can enable better self-diagnosis, better treatment, better compliance, all those factors leading to better health outcomes that our products can play a role in.
That's why, for, me it was really informative to come and see what was inspiring and stimulating, that can help enable our products to be more successful in driving consumer health.
Marcia Howard: Good. Well, we know that the 2023 CES was held the first week of January of this year, and there was 2.6 million square feet of expo space throughout the city. So it's always a marathon to run around Las Vegas and try to see everything that's of interest to you.
And that's why CHPA and CTA created our three-day curated experience this year for about the 20 members or so and leaders, which you both were in attendance. This personalized tour really helped to make the whole event a little less overwhelming, a little more focused, and hopefully a lot more manageable for those of us just interested in the digital health aspects.
And so, Pete and Jamie, can you tell me what you saw as one macro trend as it relates to health technology or digital health space when you were at the CES event this year? And let's start with Pete.
Pete Borsuk: Yeah. This was my first trip ever to CES, and I was initially blown away by how fast the technology is changing. I know we'll get into this in a little more depth later in the conversation, but the amount of information that's available now is astonishing. Patients and consumers have access to information that was never available before. And it's really impressive how they can use this information to guide their own self-help or to provide information and diagnostic to medical professionals.
Marcia Howard: And Jamie?
James Barickman: I agree with what Pete just said. And also what I was sort of struck with, just from a macro standpoint, is how so much of the smart technologies are focused on sustainability as well. A lot of that were in obviously different categories than ours in digital health, agriculture and so forth, but everything was focused on automotive, but so much was focused on leveraging the technologies for sustainability. And that, I was impressed with that.
Marcia Howard: And was there any one particular technology or a concept or a company that was there that you would like to maybe share a little bit more detail about why that piqued your curiosity or your interest?
James Barickman: I'll go first. I mean, for me, there wasn't really one particular technology that I found most interesting, although I used the opportunity to introduce myself to a couple of companies that I think could be ... that I want to follow up with later on ways of partnering in different spaces. So it was highly beneficial for the connections and the opportunity to interface with other people that were there.
But I think the collective emerging trend of how very consumer friendly devices were becoming. And that's where, especially in the digital health space, it was very much a focus on ease of use and integration of various aspects of remedies and solutions and different technologies that really were enabling better health management. And that I thought was just impressive.
Because if you think about it, the bathroom scale is still the most widely owned personal health diagnostics. I mean, everybody has that diagnostic in their house. But the number of consumer-friendly wearable technologies that were at the show this year that are giving feedback and diagnostics and metrics in real-time, that also allowed those technologies to be your personal health coach, I mean, all those aspects really inspired me. And that's moving so quickly.
Marcia Howard: And Pete, anything from you that stood out?
Pete Borsuk: Yeah. I have to agree with James, the amount of wearable devices was truly amazing. The diagnostics and data collections that's coming from these devices is really going to empower healthcare into the future.
And the one area that I had a special interest in, there was a baby bottle that was connected to an app that tracked everything, from the amount of milk that's being taken, to when the baby was fed, when it eats. And that was of interest to me, but the amount of wearable devices was really great.
Mike Tringale: I think, when we talk about wearable devices, new wearable devices, we forget there's a wearable device that's been around for a long time that has just now made its way over the counter, and that's over-the-counter hearing aids. CHPA was thrilled of course when the FDA cleared the way through a new final rule for OTC hearing aids to be available to consumers. And in fact, our member, Nuheara, had a really great showcase there at CES and actually hosted a breakout session there.
But traditionally you wouldn't really think of a hearing aid as digital health, but in fact it is. And so, Pete, can you help us make the link? How is a hearing aid helping to link that divide between digital and health?
Pete Borsuk: Yeah. I mean, Mike, I think you're spot on when you think of digital health, hearing aids wouldn't be the first thing that pops up in your mind. But I got the opportunity to talk with John and it's fascinating how far this technology has evolved over the past 30 or 40 years. I think back to the big, clunky, over-the-ear aids that my grandfather once wore. And I remember trying them on as a kid and kind of wincing about listening to the static and how loud it was.
And speaking with John, the technology in these devices made by Nuheara is nothing like the devices of the past. Now these devices can be individually tuned to the specific users. They could provide noise amplification or reduction of background noises. They could be tuned to make sure that if you're focused forward, you're hearing what's in front of you. And all this could be done by the end user via a connected app with little or no assistance from a healthcare professional. It's truly amazing the advances that we're seeing in this type of technology.
Mike Tringale: That is. And CES seems like the perfect place to showcase that, or really to remind consumers that digital and health do go hand-in-hand, and literally and hand-in-ear, I suppose.
Jamie, your background is quite varied. And you worked at a number of different companies, in marketing and product development, but you've had a particular focus on innovation like this, in consumer goods. And technology and digital health certainly is an innovation. How is it different or the same in terms of healthcare innovation? Every year at CES we see the news reports, there's a new game or there's a new feature on a car or there's a new home consumer good. But for healthcare, is it the same or is it different?
James Barickman: That's a great question, and I think it's really both. And if you think about it the same, I mean, technology's always been a part of consumer healthcare, but to a more limited degree than healthcare overall. Diabetes care for example, is grounded in technology with personal blood glucose monitors. And those devices, and their devices that play a role, like TENS devices and so forth, that play a role in pain management care and other conditions. But the devices have gotten smaller, is smarter, more consumer-friendly over the years.
So on the one hand, we're seen as the normal organic evolution of the technology evolution and innovation. But what I took away from CES this time is that that pace, and Pete referenced it earlier too, that that pace of technological change is really accelerating. And I think that's particularly exciting for self-care companies, because those emerging technologies are going to help expand the definition of self-care and open up new areas of personal health responsibility that's going to improve outcomes. So new conditions and disease states will become appropriate for self-care entirely because technologies are enabling them to become self-care appropriate.
New therapies, meds and combination therapies, are going to be now available when you have diet and exercise and other physical therapy and other things that are part and parcel of a good outcome for your med and your solutions. Those are now going to be readily available and so consumers will have more success. So it's all because of these digital health tools that you're starting to see.
I think the opportunity is really going to be exciting for consumers. Obviously good for the industry more medicines are going to be moving from behind the counter to in front of the counter and OTC-able because they have technologies that can diagnose the right consumer, and the consumers can use those meds safely and effectively because they're technology aided. So I think the future is really terrific and I'm excited about that for self-care driven by digital health. I think it's going to be great for the consumer, lead to better personal health management, faster compliance, healthier lives, all the things that we are dedicated to as an industry.
Mike Tringale: Now those are all exciting opportunity, what about the things to watch out for? Is there anything that ... Those exciting bells and whistles of what health tech can do also make one wonder what do we need to be watching out for? What are the bends in the turn that we have to be prepared for?
James Barickman: I've been thinking about that, I think that's ... They're pretty straightforward. I mean, they're sort of the things you'd expect to watch out for in the digital space. The technology must be easily integrated.
Pete referenced how easily certain technologies are now integrated with your app and different devices you're using. That kind of ease of use and focus on integrating into existing consumer behavior is what's going to enable these things to be successful, rather than being put on the shelf and compliance and usage being very low. So it needs to build on or enhance or replace current consumer behavior in an easy way, rather than having to be a new regimen the consumer has to follow, because we all know getting consumers to do new things is very difficult.
So it needs to fit in with existing behavior, and it must lead to a clear outcome for that consumer. And also in a caregiver space, it's not just digital health as it relates to personal use, but it really enables, which is an urgent need in the nation, it's going to enable us all to be better caregivers going forward. I think those are pretty straightforward things.
And I think from a technology company perspective, so what they need to ensure to be successful in a healthcare space, I think it's not dissimilar to other things, in the sense they need to be simple and affordable devices, but they also have to be, I believe, upgradable. I mean, I think it's going to be a real challenge if there's planned obsolescence in the technology, because I think having overt obsolescence is going to chill adoption and long-term utilization. The idea of having a device that's easily upgradeable so that consumers can use it for a longer period of time will really enable adoption in the long term.
Marcia Howard: Great. And Pete, you're the CMD council chair so you know that CHPA members are still trying to figure out how to navigate the vast waters of digital health and health technology. And Jamie just touched on some of the concepts that he thought were maybe watchouts when companies are thinking about integrating technology into consumer products. But what do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing health tech or the digital health industry as it relates to some of our member products?
Pete Borsuk: One of the biggest challenges facing the health tech is keeping the consumer or the patients, their experience, central to the innovation. Nearly anything is possible from a tech perspective, but we always try to bring it back to the consumer needs and ensure that the tech enhance their experience in a positive way.
Marcia Howard: Pete, as the chair of the Consumer Medical Device council, you know that CHPA members are still trying to figure out how to navigate the vast waters of digital health and health technology. And Jamie just touched on a few of the things that he thought we needed to be watching out for when thinking about integration of technology into the consumer self-care space. But what do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the health tech or digital health industry today? And in particular, those related to our members?
Pete Borsuk: Yes. I think one of the biggest challenges facing the health tech is keeping the consumer or patient experience central to innovation. Nearly anything is possible from a technology perspective, but we always try to bring it back to the consumer needs and ensure that the technology enhances their experience in a positive way.
Marcia Howard: All right. And sticking on that theme, we all know that with every challenge there is an opportunity. So did you see anything at CES this year that you think might be one of the biggest opportunities for member companies or self-care companies when they think about health tech or digital health in their innovation programs?
Pete Borsuk: I think one of the biggest opportunities is learning how to manage the vast amounts of data that are being provided by these types of devices, and using them to enhance patient outcomes. And using it in a way that patients are able to provide the proper amount of self-care without having to go to a doctor's and incurring additional costs.
Marcia Howard: Yeah, and that's a good segue to my next question, because I know one of the things that I heard a lot during the presentations during CES, is the doctors and the healthcare providers also don't want to be inundated with data that they don't know what to do with.
And while we were there, you know that those of us who participated in our curated event, got to hear from Yvette Baez, who is the Head of Industry for the pharma side of Google. And she talked to us about the future of digital health and how technology can help to lead to better health outcomes and solutions. So both of you were in attendance for Yvette's talk. Can you talk about maybe some of the biggest takeaways you heard from Yvette, and how you plan to apply them to your companies and your innovation programs?
Pete Borsuk: As I spoke about earlier, the access to information is changing the game. A company like Google has access to vast amounts of macro-level data, and trends can be spotted faster in ways that was never possible in the past. And how do we leverage this type of information? How do we use it to enhance patient outcomes? How do we use it to help create innovative products?
But on the flip side, and I think there's some downsides that need to be considered, like the spread of misinformation, and how do we ensure that consumers are making the best choices with the best information that's available. And eliminating some of this misinformation that seems to be propagated on some of these types of media platforms.
Marcia Howard: And Jamie, what was one of your aha moments from Yvette's talk?
James Barickman: It was a fabulous presentation. I really appreciate the curating and the work that you guys did to bring her to our session. And my main takeaway, or one of the main takeaways, is similar to what Pete said, it was tremendously thought-provoking and it also helped me prime my walk through the floor. By having that session before going to walk the floor, it got me into the mindset of, "Okay, what should I be thinking about as I'm now going to go walk the 280 acres of exhibits?" So it really put us in the right frame of mind I thought, and that was really beneficial, so I'm leaned forward in thinking about it.
But what struck me the most was what Pete said, was a growing threat from health misinformation. Because we know, and you guys are integral, along with government organizations and other organizations, working to address low health literacy, which is an issue in the nation. But now we have consumers who have false health literacy and that is incredibly dangerous. That false literacy, people don't know what they don't know, but they think they know everything. So they think they're quite literate from a health perspective, and it's false. And that, I don't have a solution for that. But just like Pete said, that's really frightening on a lot of levels.
Marcia Howard: Wow, so now we have health literacy and now we have false literacy related to health information. So it's something definitely to be on the lookout for.
Mike Tringale: There was clearly no lack of activity there at CES. And on top of this curated event that CHPA and CTA put together, we know there were hundreds of other breakout sessions. And 20 of them alone were just related to digital health over that four-day period. I'm sure there's no way you got to them all. I had a hard time even looking at them all through the virtual tool.
But I do wonder, are there any particular virtual sessions in digital health that stand out for you two, who were [inaudible 00:24:51]. For me, I was fascinated by some of the AI conversation that's really started taken off with ChatGPT and all these other sort of AI bots that are out there. To hear about it in health was terrifying and fascinating at the same time. I wonder, Pete, any particular of those breakout sessions of interest to you?
Pete Borsuk: Yeah. It was amazing how vast the space was there. And I found myself going back and looking at some of the sessions virtually, after walking the floors, in my hotel room.
And one of the discussions that I found fascinating was The Future of Care in America. It was a fascinating discussion on the new hybrid healthcare model, and the pandemic's really accelerated a change in how healthcare is delivered to patients. Patients are no longer required to be in person, in front of a healthcare provider. Now healthcare can be delivered any anytime and in any place. And in some cases, there's no longer a need for a healthcare provider. The device itself can diagnose a problem and recommend solutions, and in some cases it could recommend it before symptoms are even presented to the consumer. And I thought that was a fascinating discussion, to see how healthcare is being delivered in this new hybrid world.
Mike Tringale: Jamie, what about you? Any particular sessions that were of interest to you?
James Barickman: I did not attend any of the breakout sessions because I was spending my time really walking those acres and acres of ... And getting lost on those exhibit halls. But it did suggest for me that it's useful ... I'm planning to watch the digital versions, as you said, after the fact. But also it's suggested for next year to bring a broader team, and several of our colleagues had broader teams with them rather than just coming by themselves. So that is clearly something I'd like to do, is bring my team with me so we can cover more of the opportunity in real-time that the show presents.
Marcia Howard: So both of you said, I believe, that this was your first CES. Did I get that right?
Pete Borsuk: That's correct.
James Barickman: Correct.
Marcia Howard: All right. We've had a conversation about the 2023 CES, so what is your overall impression of the meeting? And let's start with Jamie.
James Barickman: My overall impression was that it was super positive. I mean, I was incredibly inspired by both the sessions and the way was curated by CHPA, as well as obviously the show and the technologies that were really overwhelming in terms of being thought-provoking and exciting.
And hats off to CHPA because I would not have gone if you guys hadn't organized and proposed this opportunity. So if it wasn't for your initiative and great work, I would be sitting at home, always wondering what CES was like and missing out on that opportunity and the stimulation that it provided. Because I came back really inspired with a lot of thought-provoking ideas, not necessarily immediately relevant today and things I could do in the next 18 months, but clearly things that I know can enable my business to grow longer term.
Marcia Howard: And Pete, you? Anything?
Pete Borsuk: Yeah. As mentioned, this was my first CES event. And just like Jamie, I probably would not have put this at the forefront of my travel calendar if it wasn't for CHPA to curate the event. The absolute size of the meeting space was mind-blowing. And if I were wandering around by myself, I would quickly find myself lost or kind of confused in which direction to head. And as the pace of digital health is not going to slow down, we need to have a way to find new technologies to support our consumers.
And one last thing that I don't think has been discussed yet, was I found really valuable the interactions with the other CHPA members. Being able to have dinner with other members of the association allowed us to discuss and share ideas, and really spark some thinking that I may not have had, either attending virtually or not having this type of curated experience.
Marcia Howard: I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I think what I'm hearing is that you would like CHPA to continue having this CTA, CHPA curated experience if we can make it happen. Is that right?
Pete Borsuk: Yeah, absolutely. It'd be something that we would be sending myself and perhaps some other individuals to share some of their learnings.
James Barickman: I agree.
Marcia Howard: Okay. That's great.
Mike Tringale: That sounds like a ringing endorsement for the CES at large, but also this collaboration between CHPA and CTA. And also our vision and hope and the promise of digital health technology and how it can really affect and improve our industry and consumer healthcare going forward.
We've talked for about 25 minutes now about how this is really important to our industry. But let's face it, folks, people go to CES to look at the gadgets. Come on, now. So my last question for the group really is, what is that one product, that one gadget, that one technology, that you just wanted to put in your pocket and walk home with? Pete?
Pete Borsuk: Well, it might not fit in the pocket, but for me it's the cars. When we had a chance, we had some free time, we were able to go into the new car section. And it's just mind-blowing, the amount of technology, how cool the cars look. I wanted to drive one out of there.
Mike Tringale: That's great. And Jamie, what about you?
James Barickman: I agree with Pete. I mean, my car has 300,000 miles on it, so any one of those cars was perfect. So I'm not picky, I'm not brand loyal, I can't fit it in my pocket. But hand me the keys, they would go in my pocket, and I would take any one of those cars. That was fascinating.
Mike Tringale: So Marcia, are you a car person too?
Marcia Howard: I am. And unlike Jamie and Pete, I did have one particular car that stood out from all of them. I don't know if I'm allowed to say their name, but there was a prototype Mercedes-Benz that was there. And the good thing about it was that it is a prototype, so I don't have to worry about seeing it on the road anytime soon, but at least there's some of the technology in that vehicle that they've added to their production vehicles. And I guess, who knows, sometimes technology from one sector lands in the healthcare sector. So who knows what we might see in the future.
Mike Tringale: I see a very big expense report coming from you, Marcia, on that. Yeah.
Marcia Howard: I don't think they're going to approve it though, so no worries.
Mike Tringale: No, no. Well, listen, clearly the consumer healthcare product industry has a bright future. But I would also say that, given this conversation, the automobile industry is doing quite well too.
Listen, it's been a great chat we've had here on CHPA Chat. It's a great way to end it. I wanted to say thank you so much to Jamie Barickman and Pete Borsuk for joining us on today's podcast, and Marcia for co-hosting with me, for this really close look at CES. And we really hope to all of our listeners to see you there next year and bring more members with you. It's January 9th through 12th, 2024, in Las Vegas, so start planning now. Otherwise, we'll sign off and we'll see you on the next CHPA Chat.
Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us here at CHPA Chat. For more information and to hear our entire catalog of shows, please visit chpa.org.