Wow! What a few weeks! We’ve officially hit busy season around here! I am finally in the office and not jet setting across the country so I thought I would share a little bit of what I’ve been up to lately. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the annual ISCEBS Symposium in Arizona. If you missed it, you can check out a recap of some Twitter action here. Below are some of the notes and highlights from the presentation I gave there about how technology is transforming healthcare.
Some of the most powerful new technologies transforming health and medicine are readily accessible through the mobile devices we use daily. Learn about these emerging and game-changing trends and tools and how they are changing the face of healthcare by personalizing care and improving engagement and outcomes.
I doubt it comes as much surprise that technology is changing Healthcare and its delivery. But the scope and power of that change may surprise even the most avid gadget geek. To say “changing Healthcare” is too tepid. Technology is fundamentally redefining the Who, What, Where, and Why of Healthcare. The convergence of increasing costs, increasing regulation (ACA), and aging population have found a nexus where computing power, size, and storage are quickly decreasing in cost and increasing in effectiveness.
Let’s use that Who, What, Where and Why framework to quickly highlight the breadth of these changes. In these topics, you’re going to sense a theme: Technology is changing the connectedness of Healthcare: data to doctors, doctors to doctors, and doctors to their patients.
Thanks to the vast amount of information available to us, a shift is happening in where Healthcare begins. We’ve all known someone who turned a sniffle or simple cough into the scariest of terminal diagnoses with just a little research on the internet. People are self-diagnosing, asking about the medications they see advertised on TV and with the advent of High-Deductibles, self-medicating where ever possible to avoid out-of-pocket costs. A Pew Internet Study showed 34% of respondents reporting that their self-management “influenced a treatment decision.”
This is the most interesting aspect to me, probably because there’s a new acronym we all get to learn: IoT or Internet of Things. If the first wave of the internet was information (think universities) and the second wave of the internet was people (Facebook), the third wave will be things. This is a true interconnectedness that will hook up everything from appliances and home security to prescription injectors and pedometers. Connected devices are expanding at an exponential rate. The computing speeds have increased to a level where a person doesn’t need to notice any delay as a system computes. This arrival of “think speed” will start to turn the technology around us invisible as we become less aware of delays introduced by “buffering” or transmissions.
Another enabling technological change is our increasing connected devices – such as our smartphones and Fitbits – that travel with us throughout our lives. Miniaturization and simplification have increased technology’s welcomedness into our daily lives. Interfaces are simplistic enough our children and parents are instinctive users.
How many of you have a Fitbit or some other activity tracker on your body right now? Would you be surprised to know that according to IDC over 70% of consumers have never even used an activity tracker?
Efforts are also underway to create Health Exchanges – but these are different than the Private Exchanges connected to Healthcare Reform. Instead, these are clearinghouses of data where the medical community can upload, share, and manage the populations’ health. Just Wednesday, we saw the announcement of over nine million lives being connected in California in the biggest Exchange undertaking to date.
The location of healthcare delivery is also changing. My grandfather, a child of the depression, received his healthcare in the home, if at all. Country doctors brought medicine to families or, more often, they self-treated. My parents tended to go to a brick-and-mortar place to receive healthcare – whether that was a hospital, a clinic or a doctor’s office. These days however, the where of healthcare has changed. Telemedicine has removed direct patient interaction and shifted it to the web or phone so that the doctor or nurse doesn’t even have to be on the same continent as their patient. Home healthcare has re-arisen as patients strive to avoid costly stays at medical facilities and show better outcomes in their homes. Technology has also taken the monitoring of a patient’s status and automated the process so in-home or even, in-body medical devices can upload bio-data and warn of non-compliance to medications.
As we know, the why is often the most important aspect of any change. This theme of increasing connectedness is not technology for technology’s sake. Instead, the outcomes are expected to be 1) lower costs, 2) increased capacity of the system and 3) increased quality. Here’s a quick examples: lower costs come from a doctor being able to access all of a patient’s healthcare information from a Healthcare Exchange that includes physical therapists, emergency rooms, family doctors, etc. They can see tests that have been run and perhaps even activity and fitness data from the patient, which prevents them from ordering redundant tests or unnecessary duplications of treatments. Ordering fewer tests frees up MRI machines for others to use and the quality of the patient’s care increases with more information preventing medical errors.
To wrap up this overview of how Technology is transforming Healthcare, I want to touch back on the overall theme of connectedness that’s run through the simplistic “Who, What, Where and Why” framework I’ve used. Webs of data are connecting more tightly around each of us as citizens, individuals, and consumers of Healthcare. As the data about us and our activities flows from our devices to our doctors, it will inform better decisions. It will also increase our own awareness of our behaviors. Studies say that over 70% of healthcare claims can be attributed to behavioral choices like smoking, stress, slothful lifestyles, etc. As our data becomes connected and convicting perhaps we’ll see a change in personal responsibility to mirror the changes we’re seeing in healthcare delivery. As our doctors compare and share notes on our progress, perhaps we’ll find a more unified medical field around the best decisions for our increased health. Nonetheless, Healthcare is changing and technology is driving that change. I want you to be aware of the changes happening around you in Healthcare and how technology is dramatically changing the delivery of Healthcare through connectedness.
Were you able to attend the ISCEBS Symposium this year too? What did you think of it? What changes are you seeing in healthcare thanks to technology?