Healthcare Innovation

The Changing Landscape of Healthcare


Signum 2019 – Signaling a Sea Change in Chronic Condition Management

Thought leaders, innovators, and practitioners in health care attended San Francisco this month for Signum 2019, an inaugural conference focused on solving the nation’s chronic condition epidemic. Aptly named, Signum is a Latin term for a medieval bell towel that heralds new ideas or signals a momentous occasion. The two-day event brought together some of the greatest minds across technology, health care, and business to discuss a range of issues and opportunities, including improving the experience of living with a chronic condition and empowering people to become health consumers. 

Among those attending the conference was Glen Tullman, now Executive Chairman of Livongo Health, and a thought leader in designing a better system for addressing chronic disease. In addition to participating in several presentations and panel discussions, Tullman gave the opening keynote. The topic of his address centered on a topic central to Glen’s life and work. How do we make it easier for the people living with chronic conditions to live healthier and happier lives on their terms? His speech, along with much of the discussions taking place at the conference, focused on the answer to this question. 

The Experience Matters

For Tullman, better health outcomes for those with chronic conditions comes from a better experience. And a better experience means removing all the burdens of managing a condition daily, as well as accessing the information and support when and where people need it. This remains a core focus of author and thought leader Glen Tullman’s book, On Our Terms: Empowering the New Health Consumer.  It also means providing this experience not just for one chronic condition, but for all conditions an individual might need to manage. A person with two chronic conditions can’t achieve better health outcomes if the experience doesn’t improve for the management of both. For example, making it easier to treat diabetes without achieving the same result for obesity, won’t solve the underlying causes of their conditions. Rather, better health calls for an integrated approach, which comes from connected technology designed with the consumer in mind.   

Consumers Need a Better Experience

Much of the burden comes from inefficient tools, information, and processes for people to complete routine tasks needed to manage their health. Take for example the need to track blood glucose. If the glucometer doesn’t display an accurate measurement, or if takes too much time or effort on the part of the consumer, then people won’t sustain it as a daily practice. 

Yet the burden also comes from a lack of power over one’s health. The traditional health care system doesn’t provide patients with the knowledge or control to manage their condition independently. In fact, patients are forced to rely on a system of health care providers that by design, limits access to good information and tools. People with chronic conditions don’t know their health status or what they can do now to improve it.  

The New Future

The burdens that made living with a chronic condition difficult are now dissipating. The recently announced partnership between Tullman’s Livongo Health and Amazon serves as one example. The companies recently announced their voice-enabled cellular blood pressure monitoring system called Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly. Connected to the cloud, the technology will enable people to manage their blood pressure using voice recognition and see their results uploaded to the cloud immediately. The device also integrates with Livongo’s other solutions, including its wireless glucometer for measuring and tracking blood sugar. This will enable health consumers to optimize the daily management of not just one chronic condition, but multiple. This is especially important, since one in four Americans have more than one chronic condition.


In many ways, Signum signifies the direction of the industry. More than ever, innovators and thought leaders alike continue to pursue new solutions that promise to transform what it means to live with a chronic condition. Much of the dialogue from the conference will continue to shape and forge a burgeoning industry with health consumers, rather than traditional health care providers, at its center. And while 2018 brought significant changes, 2019 promises to bring even more progress.

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