As the world is increasingly phasing into a technology based system, how is this affecting healthcare? We are in a time of convenience and a fast pace world wanting answers quickly, looking for a quick fix. People not only want to feel better quickly, but have no time to take off work or wait to see their provider for questions from lab results to basic health needs. The surge of over-thecounter medication and the marketing of quick relief has taken healthcare to a very short sighted view that mask symptoms that would otherwise be detected.
A 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety projected that medical errors now account for 210,000 to 440,000 in U.S. deaths annually. Making medical errors is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Americans account for 70% of the world’s prescribed medication, yet we were ranked last among the 11 largest developed countries for health by The Commonwealth Fund.
Luckily the medical treatment model is changing to a wellness paradigm where people are searching for different answers. There are so many revolutionary ideas and companies that are trying to disrupt healthcare and change patient behavior to look beyond relief care to start looking at prevention.
The beauty of technology and the movement towards multiple platforms to access care has allowed consumers a more cost efficient way to receive care. With healthcare reform in full steam and data becoming available, mobile health apps will not only see growing number of users, but studies suggest they will become people’s preferred resource over physicians.
According to a study by ITOnline, two-thirds of Americans have already shown a favor for digital health management over physical care and PricewaterhouseCoopers’ recent study shows healthcare as top 3 biggest mobile trends for 2016.
New Technology in Healthcare
The Seattle based company, Arivale, believes healthcare should be about optimizing your health and wellness, not treating it when you’re already sick. Through their web-based and personalized care model, the system is not about short-term fixes, but a long term approach to help optimize health and minimize disease risk. They share with you your personalized data points from specific testing and assign a dedicated coach to help you navigate the results, understand what they mean, and put them to use. They don’t treat or diagnose, they only give life style recommendations.
You start with an initial consultation with a nutritionist and have a call each month with your coach to review results of your tests and discuss your action plan. You can email or text your coach anytime with questions. Every four months, a physician will order tests of your blood, saliva, and a gut Microbiome to look at microbes living in your gut, which appears to have a direct impact on your overall health. Throughout the process you can access your results through your private dashboard. Your test results will be in your hands to share with your medical providers.
This web-based service that is becoming very popular for non-emergency care. One company, Teladoc is a convenient, cheaper alternative for non-emergency and after hours care when needed. Consultations are $49 and can supplement your relationship with your primary care provider with an affordable option to access care anytime you need.
In 2015, 39.5 million U.S. adults, 18 and over used wearable devices, including smartwatches and fitness trackers — an increase of 57.7 percent over 2014, according to eMarketer, explode in 2016 to over a $6 billion market and will continue to grow with 81.7 million adults using wearables by 2018.
Examples such Netatmo’s June bracelet, prevents UV damage via a mobile app measuring sun exposure and offers advice on sunscreen applications. Knowing when to get out of the sun may help prevent skin conditions such as melanoma.
Another that has grown immensily in popularity is Fitbit. It’s most advanced model, Surge tracks your fitness and all day physical activity from GPS tracking to calories burned, monitors your sleep patterns, and tracks your heatrate and zones. Other features include syncing with your phone with caller ID, text notification and music, and a silent alarm that wakes you in a more healther way.
Healthcare has always lacked transparency in its services and prices. In 2016 we will see hundreds of Expedia-like apps that will give consumers the ability to shop for better pricing and quality in healthcare services as they are used to in all other services. Between what’s available online with all of these new niche services from prevention to acute care, the approach is changing and as far as I can see in a good way.
With more information available for prevention and easier access points to providers, most consumers truly have the ability and information to take charge of their own health.