Using technology to improve healthcare has continued to be one of the largest growth topics discussed around the world. Forbes author, Padmandand Warrier, is confident that in 2018 the focus on innovating around complex webs between healthcare professionals, customer experience, and the important link between chronic disease and healthy habits will continue the healthcare technology break through.
At Veta Health we’re excited about the forward momentum 2018 brings. As a disease management platform focused on moving the needle towards increased provider transparency and patient self-management, we are seeing first hand the benefits of a digitally connected healthcare ecosystem.
As we enter 2018, I’m optimistic that technology will positively impact health care in the years to come. Today, we have the nexus of people power, capital investment and technology innovations to drive that forward. I expect that we’re going to witness history repeat itself and see the Airbnb or Uber of health care emerge.
On the surface, the challenge seems daunting. Technology by itself can’t singlehandedly erase the bureaucracy and cost structures that have long weakened the system. VC funding in U.S. health care shot up 26% in 2017, but that seems infinitesimal compared to the total cost of health care delivery. To put things in perspective, in 1960, the national health expenditures were about $27 billion, according to CMS.gov. Today, that’s well over $3.3 trillion. That’s an astronomical imbalance!
A focused approach buoyed by technology and propelled by people power is necessary. The opportunity for tech is to address three fundamental malaises in health care:
A Complex Web
Between physicians, pharmacists, patients, radiologists, insurance, hospitals and sometimes Medicare, we have an impossible combination of relationships to manage. And that’s just in each category. When you get to specific providers and pharmacies and multiply it by 50 states, the fragmentation blows up exponentially.
All of this has naturally created middlemen and unnecessary administrative bodies far removed from the point of care and, therefore, far removed from the patient’s interest. The supply chain for prescription drug distribution in the U.S. is an instance of a multifaceted ecosystem that seems largely entrenched in business models that evolved before internet commerce.
Another case of complexity is the benefit book I recently got from my insurance company. It is about as thick as an old phone book and about as complicated as the tax code. Why isn’t this information posted online, in a space where I can easily access it and search my specific needs or look for a specific context? I am hopeful that software platforms — specifically ones with APIs and smart contracts — will break down silos and help deliver faster, cheaper and better health outcomes.
The Disproportionate Focus On Chronic Disease Rather Than Healthy Living
We have built a mega infrastructure of hospitals, urgent care clinics and so on to treat chronic disease, which is entirely necessary. But what about keeping people healthy and managing day-to-day health? Can we build new data assets on what keeps people healthy to allow them and their providers to be proactive rather than collecting and evaluating data after the fact?
Consumer tech and enterprise software now have the technical capabilities to do this. Fitbit is an example of proactive monitoring of a marker related to our health (exercise), but the data is often segmented from other data. The tech industry needs to help increase adoption of unobtrusive monitoring to become more mainstream, with devices and cloud-backed services that can serve the needs of the general population.
Fundamentally, our goal should be to integrate near real-time diagnostic health data with caregivers who are available 24/7.
Poor Customer Experience
A doctor’s visit used to begin with checking your pulse. Now, it starts with checking your insurance. You get to the doctor after an interminable wait in the waiting room, and then you’re rushed through a short appointment that doesn’t leave much time for questions or conversations.
The good news is that private companies are trying to remedy this. One such example is Heal, a provider of in-home care with highly qualified physicians who take a holistic approach to caregiving. (Full disclosure: I am an investor in Heal). We’re starting to see the application of machine algorithms to improve CX in healthcare, from Accolade and many others. The value of AI and intelligence is not just in reducing costs — it is bringing about convenience, comfort and accessibility to consumers in much the same way other on-demand services do.
According to Zion Market Research, the global home health care market size is projected to grow at 9.4% CAGR and reach over $390 billion by 2021. This includes the market for diagnostics and monitoring devices, therapeutic home health care devices, mobility assist devices and medical supplies and in-home services. I expect we will continue to see investment and innovation by health care companies in this space.
Companies like Heal, Fitbit, Accolade, IoraHealth, Oscar and Teladoc are in the vanguard of bringing the combination of APIs, assets and algorithms together to put both the “health” and “care” in “health care.”
Veta Health will be exhibiting from March 5 – March 9 at the HIMSS 2018 Conference in Las Vegas, NV at the Connected Health Pavilion Booth #8700-36. Come visit us!