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Kent Dicks of Life365: “Try to keep your appointments on time, especially with Virtual visits”

Since more and more patients are starting to be connected at home with wireless medical devices, it is important that they understand how to use the equipment and take a proper reading. Patients should be taught how to put a blood pressure cuff on properly, prick their fingers to take a glucose reading or take […]

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Since more and more patients are starting to be connected at home with wireless medical devices, it is important that they understand how to use the equipment and take a proper reading. Patients should be taught how to put a blood pressure cuff on properly, prick their fingers to take a glucose reading or take a proper oxygen saturation (SpO2) reading. With the current Digital Health reimbursement codes, doctors can get paid for teaching a patient how to use their remote monitoring equipment, while providing an important service to their patients.


One of the consequences of the pandemic is the dramatic growth of Telehealth and Telemedicine. But how can doctors and providers best care for their patients when they are not physically in front of them? What do doctors wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office? How can Telehealth approximate and even improve upon the healthcare that traditional doctors’ visits can provide?

In this interview series, called “Telehealth Best Practices; How To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You” we are talking to successful Doctors, Dentists, Psychotherapists, Counselors, and other medical and wellness professionals who share lessons and stories from their experience about the best practices in Telehealth. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kent Dicks, CEO, Life365.

Kent Dicks is a serial entrepreneur with multiple exits and is considered a thought leader in Digital Health, helping to shape the future of consumer engagement and adoption in healthcare.

Dicks is the host of the Webinar / Podcast “The New Normal”, featured on Apple Podcasts, discussing the ever-changing healthcare market and how consumers are driving how care is delivered now and in the future.

Dicks has testified in front of the House subcommittee on Veterans Affairs on connecting our vets in rural locations to their doctors in order to decrease the chances of ER visits and hospitalization.

Dicks created Life365 with the sole purpose of keeping people out of expensive healthcare locations, such as ERs and Hospitals, preferring instead to connect people at home to their doctors.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I was the third of four children in our family. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather on weekends and he taught me early on to be very entrepreneurial. So, I took that influence and had a morning paper route before school when I was 8 years old and my first ledger by age 10. I studied Computer Information Systems out of the business college at Arizona State University and became a programmer for Texas Instruments and then American Express for the first 12 years of my life. I started a staffing firm after I left American Express and they ended up bringing me back to hire my consultants. I built a nice business, eventually moving into Top Secret staffing for DoD contractors which I eventually sold that business to another staffing firm. During the DoD experience, I observed that many functions were going to be done wirelessly and remotely, including healthcare. That’s when I started my first healthcare tech company, MedApps, where we created one of the first Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare, connecting medical devices wireless like glucose meters, and scales through the cellular network, and sending patient readings to their doctors so that they could be monitored at home, instead of having to go to the ER or be admitted to the hospital.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I have enjoyed working for large corporations with structure and resources, but I mostly prefer working in a startup environment. I’m a very action oriented and marketing minded person and I like the nimble pace that is usually lacking in a large corporation. But from the marketing perspective, I get really passionate in educating the market to a new product or solution. With MedApps I became somewhat of an advocate for connected health technology. I personally really enjoyed my work in Washington DC, being able to sit down with congressional staff to help bring change to Digital Health adoption, including reimbursement to doctors for caring for a patient at home. My biggest thrill was when I was given the chance to testify in front of a House Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs on bringing remote care to vets in rural locations.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A couple of things come to mind related to entrepreneurship. I like to say as an innovator I like to “Skate to where puck is going… and I have really tried to live by that in the Health and Care. But that also brings me to another quote I use: “If you build it, they may not come”. Digital Health today is changing fast and consumers are now demanding how they will engage in their own healthcare. But as a healthcare entrepreneur, the first thing you always have to ask is “who is going to pay for it?. So, it’s my responsibility to try to see the market shifts and to stay ahead of them, delivering the right product, for the right patient to achieve the right outcome at the right cost. But just building something cool never guarantees that it will be adopted and successful, especially in healthcare — so it’s a real trick to balance innovation with what can actually be implemented.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Well first off, I would always credit my parents and my grandparents for being great mentors to me growing up, helping to set the foundation to build upon. More recently and importantly I would say my wife. Me being the serial entrepreneur in the household, she has had to deal with severe ups and downs. She has had to make sacrifices and never complained and I am truly grateful to have her in this journey. I am also very inspired by my good Belgian friend, Bob, who has been the lead investor in two of my companies. Bob is very supportive and loyal, but not a naïve man. He is there to be supportive, but also help put up guard rails when needed.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how doctors treat their patients. Many doctors have started treating their patients remotely. Telehealth can of course be very different than working with a patient that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity because it allows more people access to medical professionals, but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a patient in front of you?

Right off the bat I am going to be frank and tell you that I am not a big believer in eliminating the face-to-face doctor visits with 100% Telehealth visits. I believe it depends on how sick the individual is and what kind of doctor they are visiting. I do believe that occasional episodic virtual telehealth visits can be performed if a patient has a cold, flu and may need medication adjustments / refills. For specialists, like Cardiologists, I believe there is a hybrid approach where the patient can see the doctor for a baseline exam in the office, once or twice a year, but the rest of the time, the follow-ups could be telehealth virtual visits. Obviously, procedures still need to be done in person, those just can’t be done at home — but there are some companies out there now creating technology to help even with things like Stress Tests, 12-Lead EKG, Blood Draws, Wound Examination & Treatment, and so on — so these things can be performed at home.

On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a patient is not in the same space as the doctor?

Sometimes it’s a challenge if the doctor cannot get a physical look at the patient to see if there are any issues that might be arising from their daily medication or treatments. Although there are cameras on tablets, phones and computers, dealing with an environment with poor lighting quality or people that are technology challenged leads to errors in trying to get a more accurate picture of the patients current condition. On the office side of things, additional challenges come from billing where a face-to-face visits might be required at regular interval to meet billing guidelines.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You ? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1.Give your patients the alternative to be Face-to-Face or Virtual Care (Telehealth) or a Hybrid.

I have been working out of my home office for the past year, like most professionals. The only way that we could see my Cardiologist was via a Telehealth visit, at least at the beginning of the Pandemic. It was convenient, to the point and actually cool. After the Pandemic, will I go back to in office visits only? The answer is no. I prefer to find the doctor that is comfortable with 1–2 visits per year and the rest can be done via Telehealth visits.

I actually did an experiment before the pandemic. My wife and I had fired our Primary Care Provider because he would make us come to the office for an exam, come back for tests and come back for the results. In the rare occasion he would give me that Lab Order that would end up on the back seat of my car and stay there until I had time to take off to go to the lab for a blood draw. Under the experiment, I had a Telehealth visit, where I had the doctor order labs for me. I requested the lab come to my office to draw my blood and the results were online in my patient portal within 2 days, all without leaving my office to go see the doctor.

2. Provide a variety of connected technology solutions for engaging virtual from Tech Challenged to Tech Geeks

It’s really important to understand that not all people are created the same way and some may be very comfortable around connected medical devices and others, not so much. Solutions should be developed to be downloaded to a patients Smart Phone to exchange data with their doctor or to allow the use of a medical device at home, connected wirelessly with no interaction from the patient using Smart Phones or other connected, cellular technology in order to send their Vital Sign data to the doctor for review and action.

3. Try to keep your appointments on time, especially with Virtual (Telehealth) visits

We know doctors are very busy, but one of the biggest complaints by patients using Telehealth is that they have to wait in the waiting room, although virtual, for a length of time. With the large Telehealth companies that have emerged, they have doctors waiting on-demand and are connected almost immediately. Doctors have to be aware that this is now consumer driven healthcare and people have choices about who they engage in their care. The younger generation is more likely to choose a doctor that is qualified and available, then to be loyal to their same family doctor if they don’t get the attention the desire.

4. Encourage Patients to visit their Electronic Health Record and to know their numbers (Vital Signs / Lab Results)

Since a majority of health records are becoming electronic, it is encouraged that a patient should get familiar with that slip of paper you get when visiting the doctors office to access your records in the portal. It is also wise to start knowing your lab results and numbers on a regular basis. It’s no longer good enough to know your weight, blood pressure, glucose, etc., you should also keep a record and have a plan for helping to bring your critical numbers into the acceptable range. This is a conversation you can have with your doctor as part of your Virtual visit.

5. Teach the patient how to properly take a Vital Sign measure at home (Blood Pressure, Pulse Ox, EKG, Scale, Glucose, etc)

Since more and more patients are starting to be connected at home with wireless medical devices, it is important that they understand how to use the equipment and take a proper reading. Patients should be taught how to put a blood pressure cuff on properly, prick their fingers to take a glucose reading or take a proper oxygen saturation (SpO2) reading. With the current Digital Health reimbursement codes, doctors can get paid for teaching a patient how to use their remote monitoring equipment, while providing an important service to their patients.

Can you share a few ways that Telehealth can create opportunities or benefits that traditional in-office visits cannot provide? Can you please share a story or give an example?

Many times, Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM — the use of connected Vital Sign devices) is used when a patient cannot safely make it into the office — they need to stay connected to a doctor to be monitored at home to prevent them from being transported to the ER and Hospitalized. Transportation is a very expensive and huge problem especially with the sickest of the sick patients. If patients cannot get transportation to their doctor and they are not connected via Telehealth or RPM, they may let their disease get worse, causing a visit to the ER and Hospitalization.

During COVID-19, our only choice was to keep the patient away from the doctor’s office, ER and Hospital. We didn’t want them to be exposed to the virus and to take up valuable resources that may be needed by a very sick patient. We also used Telehealth and RPM to not only remotely monitor COVID-19 patients at home, connected to a nurse monitoring center, but also to allow patients to be discharged from the hospital early, and monitored by the nurse monitoring center, to make room from new sicker patients. (and to get the well patient back in their home environment where they tend to heal faster)

Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help facilitate Telehealth. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?

Obviously, the cameras and video have played an important role in connecting patients and doctors. As the resolution on the cameras increase, the experience on both ends improves (compensating for poor lighting, movement, picture quality, etc). Smart Phones have really been the catalyst for Telehealth and home care adoption. IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) and Wearables / Sensors driven by Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning will play a pivotal role in connect larger populations of patients going forward. I personally believe that Voice Assistants (such as Alexa, Google Home, etc.) are key, but the use of Smart TVs, connected to cameras and personalized content directed to the individual patient are part of the next wave, especially with older patients at home.

If you could design the perfect Telehealth feature or system to help your patients, what would it be?

I like to design things that I would use, but most practically, I designed them for use with my older parents, who were consuming healthcare costs, and that is a MUCH different engage story. I have to compensate for one parent that was completely connected to the grid and the other was off the grid. How do you engage both in their care? This is where “One Solution Does Not Fit All” and you have to align different technology around people to engage them in their care. My mother would prefer a Tablet that had gamification to help her with her engagement and care journey. My Dad would want a wearable communicating with the Smart TV to guide and engage him. I believe the Telehealth experience that works for consumers like me is one where everything is at my fingertips — a Virtual Care Platform that is integrated on multiple platforms: Computer, Tablet, TV, Smart Phone, Voice Assistant, etc., seamlessly walking me though the health and care journey wherever I am. The platform schedules appointments, puts me in a waiting room, then starts the session, has my meds already in the system and fills out that pesky form required every darn time you go to the doctors office.). Going forward into 2022, everything related to the patient / consumer is about “personalization”. The system has to “know me” — but not in a creepy way — to personalize the solutions put around me to help engage me in my care.

Are there things that you wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office?

Patients need feedback, even if they are not in the office. We talked about the importance of knowing your numbers. The best thing that the Lab Report does is show that a reading is In or Out of Range. My goal is to always work with my doctor to better understand how I can move the numbers back into the good range. (Medication, Weight Loss, Exercise, etc.). Patients that are remote also need to know that their doctor cares — Truly cares about their well-being. This Virtual (Telehealth) visit cannot come off as transactional.

With the ongoing consolidation of specialty practices (Cardiovascular, Nephrology, Endocrinologists, etc) being bought by Hospital Systems, the amount of attention by the doctor and staff in some cases goes down by the regulations put on the practice by the acquiring Hospital. I recently left my Cardiologist of 15 years because when their practice was purchased by the Hospital, their attention to detail and customer service went to non-existent, all due to the regulations and procedures imposed by the acquiring Hospital.

The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring people together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you?

I do like the applications that can be developed with VR, AR and Mixed Reality. Studies have shown that seniors are comfortable with this technology in engaging with others, like doctors. I believe that robots have a place in routine positions in the hospital and maybe even in the home. Robots can be used to help with remote examination or administration of medication. Robots in the home that can help with lite duties (dishes, vacuuming, washing, etc.) but also as an aid to help look for situations that might cause a fall or to alert a caregiver if there is an immediate need or emergency.

Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?

My concern is that technology that is not implemented correctly can actually increase the burden on the healthcare providers, instead of helping them become more efficient. Studies have shown that the average doctor goes home at night and has another 80 minutes of documentation to do or inboxes to go through to monitor for any immediate intervention or emergencies. One group of doctors received over 500 emails per day and had no intelligent system to help triage the most important cases to be viewed and acted upon by the doctors or staff.

Physician burnout is a real concern and we need to make sure that connected technology does what it is supposed to do and help reduce the workload and the data overload.– not add to it.

Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I wish we could solve our internet connectivity issue with underserved people throughout the US, especially rural and hard to reach locations — around the world. Lack of connectivity in remote locations, especially those without updated infrastructure and proper healthcare resources, the result is people wait until their health or disease becomes worse, which makes it more complex and costly to treat which can lead to unnecessary death. On the other end of the spectrum, I do believe we advances in technology bring us great opportunity. Take autonomous vehicles…these intelligent vehicles can obviously bring patients to care, but we could also bring care to patients no matter where they are living, especially in rural locations. Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped transporting dialysis patients up to 100 miles each way, 3 times per week, to do dialysis for 4–5 hours, but instead, had autonomous vehicles bring dialysis machines to the communities at the appropriate times. These types of virtual and physical connectivity can help increase access to care and drive down costs because we have the ability to intervene earlier — and smarter.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can visit our website at www.life365.health and my Webinar / Podcast at www.newnormal.buzz or at Apple Podcasts (“The New Normal from Life365”). My LinkedIn is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kentdicks/

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

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