Abbott Labs: A Pioneer in Digital Behavioral Health

Abbott Laboratories, a “dividend aristocrat,” has paid and increased its base dividend every year for the past 50 years. In addition to investing heavily in new product research and development, Abbott’s ability to stay ahead of the curve in digital technology has also helped the company maintain its competitive advantage.

“If there’s anything that helps healthcare technology workers stay ahead in a competitive industry, it’s spotting trends – always looking for what’s next,” he said Raul Avasthy, Head of Digital Transformation and Experience at Abbott.

And that’s what Abbott Labs has done so well: identifying and capitalizing on the next big technology trend in healthcare. In recent years, this has meant developing new digital-first products that empower patients to take control of their healthcare decisions.

Although data has always been the backbone of modern medicine, it is only in the last decade that data has been considered a pharmaceutical product in its own right. Increasingly, medical technology companies like Abbott Labs are developing new data-driven products that enable patients to access their own medical data and use it to make more informed decisions about their lifestyle.

For example, in 2019, Abbott became the first medical device company to launch a glucose-reading smartphone app in the United States when it received FDA approval to launch it FreeStyle LibreLink. As explained on the Abbott website, “allows users to hold their iPhone near their FreeStyle Libre or FreeStyle Libre 14-Day Sensor to instantly capture and view their real-time glucose readings, assess their 8-hour glucose history, and see a directional arrow pointing how your glucose level changes. The FreeStyle LibreLink app also includes a number of in-app reports that visualize trends and patterns to help people understand how well they are controlling their blood sugar.”

Abbott launched in January 2021 NeuroSphere™ myPath™, a digital health app designed to track and report patient perceived pain relief and overall well-being associated with spinal cord stimulation (SCS) or dorsal root ganglion (DRG) therapy. In addition to simplifying reporting, the app connects patients with doctors, who have real-time access to this data as well as educational resources to help them manage their symptoms more effectively.

To further enhance the NeuroSphere myPath experience, just a few months later, Abbott launched NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic, an in-app video chat service with integrated remote programming of devices. This allowed physicians to talk to their patients and update treatment settings without meeting in person, which many patients were reluctant to do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January 2022, Abbott Labs made history by becoming the first healthcare company to host the Consumer Electronic Show (CES). During the keynote, the company’s CEO, Robert B. Ford, revealed the company’s latest innovation: Lingoi wearables.

Using proprietary sensor technology, Lingoi allows users to track key signals in the body such as glucose, ketones and lactate, and ultimately alcohol levels. As Ford explained in his keynote, using Lingoi wearables “will be like a window into your body. It’s science you can access anytime so you understand what your body is telling you and what it needs. Our vision is that Lingo goes far beyond today’s consumer wearables to help you proactively manage your health, nutrition and athletic performance.”

Using digital technology, Abbott Labs has successfully redefined what it means to be a “medical device company.” This begs the question, how do you use digital technology? Just keep the status quo or build something new?

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