How will technology change healthcare? The same way technology has facilitated the move of many transactions from being required in-person (shopping at the mall, playing a board game) to remote via the Internet and mobile technologies (Amazon, WordsWithFriends, Xbox Live multiplayer). This tidal wave of disruption has not saturated healthcare as it has other industries as of yet, but it will. It’s taking longer due to established and entrenched institutions like hospitals and providers, a more complex regulatory environment, (payment, privacy), and the fact that most healthcare transactions are not direct or full financial interactions between supplier (doctors) and consumers (patients). Thanks to health insurance, most consumers don’t know what it actually costs to see and pay a doctor full-price for a check-up or an MRI (although this is changing with more US consumers enrolled in plans with higher deductibles, requiring individuals pay out of pocket for health costs up to a certain threshold before insurance kicks in). However, it’s clear that technology is starting to impact how healthcare is delivered and consumed in the US today (no comment on healthcare.gov). While B2C applications are proliferating, much of the value and spend is still on the B2B side that impact providers (EMR spend is a $21B market). There will be a tipping point as they say, and change is coming that will put more and more power in the hand of consumers. It will soon be hard to ignore the use of more effective and efficient technology in healthcare delivery, no matter the perspective of provider, patient or payor. However, despite many who think technology can and will solve all ills in healthcare, it’s worth keeping a healthy perspective— technology can and will plan an important role in supporting healthcare, enabling medicine to be less art and more science through accessibility of timely and rich information to make more accurate diagnoses and deliver more effective treatments. There will be many things a computer or robot might be able to treat in the near future, such as the estimated 70% of doctor visits that are “routine” cases such as coughs, colds, headaches and can be handled via phone or video or e-mail. This will allow doctors to spend more time with patients that are more complex and require more time to assess, diagnose and treat such as those with co-morbid and chronic conditions. At the end of the day, there will always be a need for the human touch in medicine.
To your health,
The attached infographic provides a visual depiction of results from a recent survey of 10,000 U.S. physicians conducted by Nuance. The survey found that 80% of U.S. physicians believe virtual assistants will drastically change healthcare by 2018.
A link to another article on Nuance’s Healthcare blog can be found here: