Futuristic Healthcare: The Tech Industry Is Changing the Game

The tech industry could be poised to change the way American healthcare operates, according to Forbes Technology Council Contributor Yesi Orihuela. “Silicon Valley heavyweights are rolling up their sleeves and making moves to reinvent American health care. On the heels of the CVS-Aetna merger, Amazon announced intentions to form its own health care company with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase,” Orihuela writes. “Apple followed suit. Now there are whispers -- loud whispers -- that Google will enter the fray.”

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In an opinion piece titled, What The Tech Industry Takeover Of Health Care Means For Americans, Part II, Orihuela tackles the spread of information as it relates to our personal healthcare needs, and what that could mean for future innovations.

“Preventive care is a powerful piece of the puzzle the current U.S. health care system has miserably failed to leverage, but it is a piece that these tech giants will bring to bear to cut costs. 

If the worst-case scenario is a kind of dystopia, the best-case scenario is one where privacy concerns are adequately addressed, and these same IoT [internet of things] devices serve as an army of allies to provide a wealth of information that we can use to make healthy choices.”

Orihuela notes that harnessing that information would empower Americans and would drastically reduce healthcare costs. Our personalized devices could be used to create extremely personalized care.

“Patients would be armed with a detailed, holistic view of their health, interpreted by artificial intelligence and delivered to health care providers so that every aspect of patients’ lives could be addressed before poor lifestyle choices led to illness…

Additionally (and it is already starting), patients will have their electronic health record stored in a smartphone app so every care provider has instantaneous visibility into their health history, recent diagnoses, chronic conditions and, most importantly, the medications they are taking. This information is integral in avoiding and correcting negative drug interactions, or ‘medication reconciliation,’ and will provide a level of transparency and cohesion of care that neither patients nor health care providers have ever had before.”

The future of doctor visits could change as well. Using a tech industry inspired model with advanced information, and having a complete patient history on hand, could eliminate going to a primary care doctor before being treated by a specialist.

The Forbes article quotes New Yorker columnist Siddhartha Mukherjee: “Cell phones would analyze shifting speech patterns to diagnose Alzheimer’s. A steering wheel would pick up incipient Parkinson’s through small hesitations and tremors. A bathtub would perform sequential scans as you bathe to determine whether there’s a new mass in an ovary that requires investigation.”

While this is futuristic speculation, Orihuela recognizes the benefits of tech and a new way of treating patients:

“Companies lean further into a decentralized model where patients are treated for chronic conditions by local health care providers, like clinics and community pharmacists, and visits to the hospital are reserved for acute conditions... 

It will mean a renaissance of patient-centric care: Instead of the quick visits with overbooked PCPs [primary care physicians] rushing from room to room, patients will get quality time with their health care providers, which promotes wellness in and of itself. In fact, new tech players are already offering 75-minute provider visits.

If these companies play their cards right, we may well end up with a highly effective health care system that leverages preventive care, local care and IoT technologies to keep the population healthy at a fraction of the current cost.”

For the rest of this story, visit Forbes.com.

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