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Digital Health After COVID-19
Episode

René Quashie, Vice President, Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Digital Health at the Consumer Technology Association

Digital Health After COVID-19

In this episode, we are privilege to host Rene Quashie, the first-ever Vice President of Policy and Regulation Affairs, Digital Health at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Rene covers the Consumer Technology Association’s functions and features, its growing segment of digital health companies, and the CES digital health summit. He emphasized how CTA leverages technology to bring outside the box solutions to various issues in healthcare. Rene also shared the different benefits of joining the CTA. We also discussed some challenges the organization faces, conducting education campaigns, guiding principles for privacy.

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Digital Health After COVID-19

About Rene Quashie
Rene is the first-ever Vice President of Policy and Regulation Affairs, Digital Health at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Before CTA, Quashie was in private law practice at several national firms for two decades, focusing his work on health care issues, including digital health reimbursement and privacy. He earned his law degree from George Washington University in the great city of Washington, D.C., where he resides.

Digital Health After COVID-19 with René Quashie, Vice President, Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Digital Health at the Consumer Technology Association: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Digital Health After COVID-19 with René Quashie, Vice President, Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Digital Health at the Consumer Technology Association: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Saul Marquez:
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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez is here and today I have the privilege of hosting Rene Quashie. He’s the first-ever Vice President of Policy and Regulation Affairs, Digital Health at the Consumer Technology Association, the CTA. Quasshie provides guidance on key technical and regulatory issues relating to consumer digital health, technology products, services, software and apps. She also works on behalf of the Health and Fitness Technology Division, which supports the consumer health technology industry through advocacy, education, research standards, work policy initiatives, and more. Prior to CTA, Quashie was in private law practice at several national firms for two decades, focusing his work on health care issues, including digital health reimbursement and privacy. He earned his law degree from George Washington University in the great city of Washington, D.C., which is where he resides. And just, I mean, timely, timely work that his life’s focus has been on. That now is the focus of our country and really of everybody’s lives today. So it’s such a privilege to have you here with us, Rene. And I am so privileged to have you join us.

Rene Quashie:
Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity and I’m looking forward to the discussion.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. And so, Renee, obviously with covid and everything that’s happened in our country, digital health and telemedicine has become such a center point and way of delivering care. I’m really excited to dig into the work you’re doing at CTA. But before we do that, I’d love to find out more about what inspires your work and health care.

Rene Quashie:
Yes. And in this field, in one way or the other, usually on the legal side for over two decades now. And I think what I’m finding as I get a little bit older is that I believe I sincerely believe that technology enabled health solutions are the key to delivering better outcomes and reducing overall health costs. We’re not there yet. I think we’re at the beginning of the race, to be perfectly blunt. But I think technology offers tremendous opportunities for us to remake the health care system. So that’s what drives me. That’s what drives the organization. And we’ve got phenomenal members who I think are going to play a leading role in advancing the cause of health care in the United States in the next half century of it.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I believe it, too, Renee. And so what would you say? And I think maybe just to begin with, let’s park on the focus of there, the Consumer Technology Association, and then help us understand your role within the city.

Rene Quashie:
Sure. So CTA is a large technology trade association, one of the largest in the world. We cover almost every industry sector that has some function that deals with technology. So if you think about the sectors, we have everything from energy, transportation, health care, obviously sort of consumer entertainment, sports, you name it, we’re there. Health care is the fastest growing sector of our membership. We have a health division with its own board within CTA that’s dedicated to digital health. And it’s an incredibly diverse group of companies that are members of the board. So we’ve got retailers like CVS, Walgreens, and Best Buy Health. We’ve got a large insurer, Humana. We’ve got telemedicine companies like Ginger and Dacron, and we got sort of more traditional tech players like Google and Microsoft and Samsung. And so we really are an incredibly diverse group of companies in the ecosystem to really want to advance the use and deployment of technology in a much better and more comprehensive way in our health care ecosystem. We believe that technology is a key and reforming and changing and really ushering in a new era of health care.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, and it’s fascinating. And when you put all of these companies and stakeholders together, I imagine a lot of great things can happen. Ideas generated. What would you say makes what your part of the CTA does to make health care better?

Rene Quashie:
Yeah, I think the biggest advantage that we have is a lot of these companies have never or some of them have never been involved in health care to the degree they are today. And they say if you think about a Microsoft and what Microsoft originally was when the company was founded, Samsung and others, we have a lot of very innovative players who are in the health care space in a way that they haven’t before. So I think that’s number one. Number two, as you can see in other industry sectors, even if you look at your own personal life, think about the way technology has completely changed the way you live, the way your business, the way you communicate when you receive entertainment. And we think health care is a little behind in the acceptance and deployment of technology. And so we want. Play a leading role, and I think our companies are well positioned to advance that cause.

Saul Marquez:
Well, that so do you guys, and this is just a curiosity. You guys are the ones that runs CES.?

Rene Quashie:
Yeah, that’s what we’re known for. We own and host that show, which occurs every January in Las Vegas. This year We’re going to an all-digital format for obvious reasons, but usually, we have about one hundred and seventy thousand attendees. That’s unbelievable. Exhibitors. It’s great. If you ever feel pessimistic about the future of the United States, the future of innovation, just come to the CES and spend some time with the nominal ideas of great innovation, all the thinking outside the box that occurred. It’s incredible. It’ll actually renew your spirit in many ways.

Saul Marquez:
I have heard how great this meeting is and specifically around health care. More and more people have been talking about get to see us for health care, get to see us for health care. And I was actually going to go this year, but then everything started happening with this virus. I actually you know what? I was thinking about a different one because you guys are in January, right?

Rene Quashie:
Yeah, we’re in January every year. So we did have six. Twenty, twenty. It was right before the pandemic hit a couple of months later.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, man. But you know what? It is one of those meetings that I have heard so much about and I want to make it to. Folks if you haven’t had any insight into this, it sounds like the health care program is pretty comprehensive. Do you care to dive into what that looks like at all, Renee?

Rene Quashie:
Yeah. And so I spoke earlier about how digital health companies make up the fastest-growing segment of our membership. And the same is true for CBS. I think last year we set a record for a number of exhibitors, the touch on health. And this year, had we done an in-person show, I think we would have broken this year’s record. Again, we’re going all digital this year. But digital health is an incredibly important component of CES, both from the exhibitors’ side. And we’re getting more and more interesting, innovative exhibitors all the time, but also from the conference programming side. And so we have a digital health summit at CES, which is two days of conference programming, addressing all manner of health technology issues from policy perspective, a technological perspective, consumer perspective. It’s so it’s really become an incredibly important piece of CES as well as CTA.

Saul Marquez:
Thanks for sharing that. And so as you think about the role of the CTA in what we’re doing and improving outcomes and even business models, what would you say is the key way that you guys do that?

Rene Quashie:
I think we are really thinking outside the box, bringing new approaches to health care problems, and providing solutions or technology-based solutions that really have not been at the center of our health care system. Historically, I think that’s what our companies bring to the table. And so the other thing, too, is as we have consumerization in all other aspects of our lives, I think we’re seeing that movement growing exponentially in health care. And even what I would call your status quo or conventional players, realizing that consumer-facing services, consumer-facing solutions are going to be an incredibly important part of health care delivery. And that’s where our member companies come in offering tremendous solutions, everything from AI and machine learning to wearables to generate a lot of important data. And on and on and on. We could go on talking about all the solutions that are coming. But there are issues. The health care system is not historically been one to accept new technology, doesn’t know how to cover reimburse for it necessarily well, clinicians are sometimes suspicious of new technology, so there are a lot of issues that we have to overcome. But I think our members are very well placed to really drive the ball in this area.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great. And as folks are listening to this, Rene, and they’re thinking maybe they’re already involved, maybe they’re not involved yet and they’re curious, what would you say is how does it work if somebody wants to become a member of the association? What does that entail and what are the benefits?

Rene Quashie:
Yeah, a lot of benefits. It’s a great question. So if you go to see Doc Tech, there’s a whole section devoted to membership and all the benefits of membership. And I should say that plays a lot of roles. So we obviously have an advocacy portion of our association. We have a very engaged, pretty large government and legal affairs group that does a lot of advocacy work, both on the Hill and with the agencies. We also do state-level work because a lot of our issues, such as state issues, we have a research department, does a lot of consumer based research around technology. We have a standards group. So we are into accredited standards organization, meaning we can develop. Voluntary standards, much like ULLE, for example, so some of the standards were known for, for example, airplane mode and closed captioning, which everybody knows, but we also have a lot of health care based standards and we can talk about that at some point. But so we’re standards organizations. You can be involved in standards work. Obviously, we have CBS as well. So there are a lot of components to CTA and CTA membership. And again, go to cat dot tech and you can find out all about our other membership benefits. Then I think for an association of our caliber, I think our dues are quite low and they’re based on annual revenue. And so that’s also something you can explore and pay.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome. And if you go to that website, folks, you’ll see that there’s regular, there’s associate, there are startup members. There’s a bunch of options there for you to consider thinking about getting engaged with the CTA and all the great work that they’re doing there in health care, Renea and his team. And so, Renee, as you think about the developments and the huge progress that you guys have made with some of the health care advocacy work and work that you do with the conference, what would you say is one of the biggest setbacks you’ve seen and key learning that came from that that’s made you guys even better?

Rene Quashie:
I don’t think we’ve had a lot of setbacks, to be honest. I think probably the barrier that we face most is people not fully understanding the technology, what technology does, how it can be used and implemented. The ease in which a lot of clinicians can use technology, I think sometimes is very underrated. People are intimidated by new things, new technology. So I think that’s been something that we’ve had to wrestle. How do we ensure clinicians, patients, policymakers understand not only the value of the technology but the ease of use of the technology and remove sort of some of the intimidation factor that comes with new things? I think that’s been probably the biggest stumbling block for us. But I think with education, with guiding principles, documents and other things that we’ve developed, I think we’re well on our way to at least demystifying a lot of what we hear about health technology.

Saul Marquez:
That’s really interesting. And so what you’re saying is people are not as able to adapt to new things?

Rene Quashie:
Yeah, I think so. And again, if you think about technology, how quickly the technology changes, I mean, if you just think about what our phones or our cell phones were saying, two thousand five compared to what they are today, their functionality, I mean, we’re talking about generations worth of than 15 years. It’s amazing and it’s just amazing. You’re right. It is. And so I think that’s part of the challenge we have in the technology sector, which is incredible innovation happening rapidly. But we have to ensure that people understand changes. And I’m not intimidated by the changes that ultimately I think technology makes our lives better. And that should be the case in health care.

Saul Marquez:
Well, yeah. And so when you talk about people kind of maybe being a little fearful, how does the CTA come into play there? Are there like education campaigns? And can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Rene Quashie:
Yes. So one of the ways we’ve done that is through what I would call thought leadership. So, for example, there’s been a lot of concern about the use of health, technology, solutions, and privacy. So and so one of the things we did last fall was we published guiding principles for the privacy of personal health and wellness data. I think we called so that we put together a large workgroup to think through all the privacy issues that may come up with the use of health technology, particularly health technology that involves personal health data. It came up with some principles that developers of these solutions ought to keep in mind that they develop solutions. So it’s things like that. Projects like that really sort of or thought leadership thought pieces. When we put together a workgroup to think about some of these issues. We also did that for virtual care for the pandemic. We released a document, Best Practices for Virtual Care, really providing some guiding principles for virtual care developers about some of the issues they need to think about and build into the virtual care solutions. So I think it’s our view is more thought leadership we can do along with all the other work we do, the better. And the other pieces. Our standards-based, like I said before, where standards develop and organization standards are a very important part of innovation. One of my colleagues likes to say standardization for innovation. We have some baseline principles, some baseline definitions we can all agree on. It really helps innovators move forward. So there are a lot of ways we do this, but I think leadership and standards to the more important.

Saul Marquez:
Wow, that’s super cool. And. I mean, these best practices, Renee, sounds so interesting, the guiding principles for privacy, best practices for virtual care, where can people find that? Is that available to the public or is it to members only know it is.

Rene Quashie:
So a lot of our thought leadership pieces, our research pieces are not available to the public for the most part, but our thought leadership pieces are. So if you go again, the city that you’ll be able to find not only the documents I talked about but a whole slew of other documents that you can download.

Saul Marquez:
Lot of it. Yeah, yeah. So folks, CTA dot tech and you’ll see there’s a menubar on the resources and you scroll down and you see the standards. This is so cool. Rene, thank you for sharing this awesome resource with us. Sure. So if everybody hasn’t heard about it, get over there and check it out. I mean, pretty amazing work here. And so, Rene, what makes you most excited today?

Rene Quashie:
I am fond of quotes. And one of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill when he talks about how an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. So I think during these very stressful and troubling times with the pandemic, I think we’ve seen innovation and really great thinking on the health care side about ways in which we can revolutionize health care, ways in which we can get health care to people in ways that we haven’t before been slow to do before. And so you talked about in the beginning the incredible surge of the use of telehealth in remote patient monitor. That’s been a tremendous, tremendous example of ways in which difficulties have presented opportunities for folks to really advance the ball. And I think if you look at the Medicare telehealth data, administrative Burma came out with a blog post to think about a month and a half ago in which you talked about how before the pandemic, thirteen thousand beneficiaries per week were receiving telehealth services. And by the middle of June, the nine million total, think about an incredible surge. So my point here is all these difficulties we’re having with the pandemic and other issues we’re having, at least on the health care side, I think presents tremendous opportunities for us to rethink the way we deliver services. We think the way patients receive services. And it’s an opportunity that I, quite frankly, that we haven’t had before. So for some, that comes some good. So that’s really what I’m excited about. And I think people’s minds are being open about technology, health, technology, virtual care, and some of the things that some of our member companies have been working on for decades now.

Saul Marquez:
That’s so interesting. And I love that. And it is exciting. And it’s also exciting to know that that there’s an association like yours with your leadership and on the health care front and just the activities you guys are doing to help all of us. It’s certainly encouraging. And so I want to thank you for jumping on and sharing with us just the tip of the iceberg here. But the invitation goes to you listening today to check out more. And so, Renee, why don’t you leave us with the closing thought and then the best place that the listeners could connect with you or continue to learn more?

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I think and I said before I’m fond of quoting was Mark Twain, who said continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection. And I think sometimes in the health care sector, we’re always looking for the perfect. And I think what this pandemic has shown is that there are existing tools that we have not really used in a very effective way that can be used, which lead us to the road of rethinking health care. So I’m very excited about that. I think a lot of minds have been open given everything we’ve seen over the last six months about health care. So I think ultimately in the next 10 years, I think we’re going to see tremendous change in our health care system, which is necessary because, despite the fact that we’ve got as clinicians and tremendous health systems, there are a lot of gaps and problems in our health care system that need to be fixed.

Saul Marquez:
Well, Renee, this is awesome. I appreciate you sharing that quote. Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection. I’m going to use that. There are so many instances where that’s the case, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Especially in our health system. Oh, my gosh. Well, folks, this has been a great discussion with Rene Squashy. And again, he mentions cta.tech as a place to connect and learn more. And just want to give you a big thank you for joining us today.

Rene Quashie:
I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • Technology-enabled health solutions are the key to delivering better outcomes and reducing overall health costs. Technology offers tremendous opportunities for us to remake the health care system.
  • This pandemic has brought a tremendous amount of innovation and significant thinking, which can revolutionize healthcare.
  • All difficulties we have present tremendous opportunities for us to rethink the way we deliver services other issues.
  • There are existing healthcare tools that we have not effectively used that can lead to the road of rethinking health care.