by  Chuck Ros

US Health Tech 2020

  5 min read

Americans spend more money per capita on healthcare than citizens of any other country, and by all assessments, get less for their investment than most developed nations. According to the World Health Organization, America’s healthcare system is, as a result, the least efficient in the world.

Inefficiency aside, notably, more Americans have a negative outlook on the American healthcare systems than positive, a gap that has been consistent for more than two decades. And, for a good reason—for their high rate of investment, Americans are not receiving the clinical outcomes expected. In 2016, the United States ranked twenty-fourth in life expectancy at birth. The results are a poor prognosis for the American healthcare system, as healthcare spending outpaces economic growth for the foreseeable future.

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Few will argue the assertion that the American healthcare system feels broken. The reasons are numerous, and solving them is complicated by fundamental political philosophies concerning the role of government in citizen’s lives. Repairing America’s healthcare problems is one of the most divisive and contentious political topics in America today.

Here, we discuss how the application of modern digital technologies, with the inclusion of data management and governance principles, could affect healthcare in America. This vision acts as a challenge to the healthcare industry in the United States, a call to action to solve many healthcare problems while serving as a warning to incumbent enterprises that positive disruption in the American healthcare industry is not only possible but inevitable.

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HyperHealthNet: Ubiquitous Health Data

A ubiquitous store of personal health data, and the management of that data, predicates any vision of healthcare technology. Economies of scale in information technology requires readily accessible, shared data. Consumers and their healthcare providers, along with pharmaceutical companies, private industries, government researchers, and others in health and wellness roles, must have access to a single source of truth regarding medical history and PHI, targeted to remove information inefficiencies. Such a "HyperHealthNet" database must be inherently secure and reliable without flaw, leading to a greater need for data management and governance for its implementation.

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The benefits of a comprehensive store of secure medical data are apparent. Providers of care would have access to a single version of truth concerning the medical history of their patients, regardless of whether they have cared for the patient for decades or are seeing the patient for the first time. Multiple care providers would be better informed in coordinating care for individual patients. Researchers would have access to the most reliable, near real-time data linking treatments with outcomes. Regulatory bodies would be able to monitor and assess the impact of new drugs and procedures in days and weeks versus years and would be able to more quickly detect outbreaks and the emergence of previously undetected diseases and conditions.

RHA: Robotic Health and Wellness Automation

Healthcare today, for the most part, still relies on an increasingly archaic notion that patients should only see their healthcare providers when something is wrong. The idea of wellness, or actively pursuing good health, while ancient in practice, only became formalized as a discipline in the last 50 years. The challenge has been one of convenience—nobody but the most fanatic of wellness-oriented individuals would take regular time out of their schedule to consult with their physician when not sick, even if they could afford it. The convergence of ideas such as the HyperHealthNet, wearables, AI/ML, and cloud not only makes wellness easier and more affordable, but also makes continuous real-time assessment and feedback possible.

Constant patient input introduces a new problem, however. The current population of healthcare professionals would be quickly overwhelmed with data. Automated analysis using data management technologies is essential in the future of American healthcare, as consumer electronics are laying the foundations for mass amounts of incoming data. Similar to the way Robotic Process Automation utilizes AI/ML to automate tasks and identify human interaction needs, development is underway for Robotic Health and Wellness Automation to automate rote data evaluation and identify situations that genuinely need the attention of healthcare professionals. The key concepts here are management, governance, specialization, and escalation.

Positive disruption in American healthcare is not only possible but inevitable.

In Conclusion

As discussed in the whitepaper Healthcare Trends 2020: Driving the Decade of Data, transformative opportunities exist within the American healthcare system today, given current technology and statutory constraints. As digital transformation initiatives sweep through other industries, the underlying concepts, and technologies of these ideas become more mature and more proven. While only a few ideas are presented here, from the perspective of only a few individuals calling for disruption in the US Healthcare system, there are many more transformative ideas to shape the healthcare industry. Regardless of what the future holds, it will certainly rely on the application and usage of better-managed data with advanced technology solutions.

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