Technology is heralded as a solution for society’s problems. Like anything, it’s more complicated than one investment in a particular area. And like everything, it comes with its own issues, but there is merit to responsibility making the investment. Look no further than healthcare. In 2014, the Healthcare.gov website sees arguably one of the most abysmal launches of a public product, causing thousands to be unable to sign up. While there was certainly panic, a solution was found that replaced the disastrous $250 million product by rebuilding it from scratch for $4 million. Of course, the narrative is more complicated than simply rebuilding it, as it took the right team with a particular set of skills working extraneously long hours.
While products may be intended to be used to solve a particular problem, it doesn’t mean they get used as designed. An op-ed about EMRs from Newsweek highlighted that issue as it detailed the corruption of EMRs by the for-profit insurance industry. If anything, this reminds us tech is another tool and not the panacea we romanticize. However, the intersection of tech and healthcare has bridged gaps that were previously unresolved. Mobile technology has made it simpler to engage people and gather data about ourselves.
FaceTime your doctor? Kind of. The evolution of seeing a doctor over video makes sense given the lengths video technology has developed. Will it save the medical industry? Nope, but it’s an option in one of the many approaches to providing comprehensive care. Telemedcine wants to make an impact. Yet, it takes a decent internet connection, quality cameras, and being familiar with technology to really take advantage of it.
Nevertheless, there are hopes it will alleviate U.S. healthcare system issues of long wait times and doctors booked for months at a time. Whether on mobile or a computer, a doctor will be able to diagnose or suggest a health specialist to see in your area. Most importantly, it opens up healthcare to people who have difficulty traveling and or people who live in more rural areas. For some, they may be more comfortable speaking with a health professional via video rather than in person. It also opens up patients to options for medical professionals or specialists not immediately available in their area.
For fields like mental health, this is a very accessible option as people have been talking to psychologists on the phone for years. Services like Talkspace and BetterHelp are exclusively delivering virtual counseling.
Telehealth isn’t designed to replace in person visits, but supplement care options.
Direct Primary Care
Direct Primary Care is on the rise as people want to avoid high insurance deductibles and or fill gaps in their coverage. It’s been around prior to the emphasis of technology in the arena, but this addition has allowed people to get on board faster. Since mobile has become an intricate part of this service, patients can fill in their paper work and get added to a health system before they have their first appointment. And while this option may be available for traditional healthcare experiences, scheduling an appointment that day to see your doctor isn’t a reality. Thanks to mobile booking and telehealth, a client can have a direct relationship with their doctor with the option to text or call/video call them with questions.
The next evolution in healthcare is preventative medicine, and nothing is more important in achieving this than information about patients. Thanks to options like the Apple Watch or Fitbit, people can keep track of their health progress with a flick of their wrists. Not everyone is able to afford this technology, but the more time we spend developing it, the more likely cost will go down as it becomes essential to extending lives. Eventually, insurance companies could recognize the value in equipping their patients with them to save lives. Naturally, data is integral to the wearables industry, but as long as its collected anonymously, it can be used to conduct studies like Apple’s. Data allows us to make better informed decisions and create technology that hopefully reflects what people need.
Health tech’s future
Health technology should always be seen as a secondary to receiving primary care. It’s an area that requires the utmost sensitivity between HIPAA approval and security concerns while only able to move as quickly as policy permits. The possibilities for implementation appear endless, but they need to solve problems and not bloat a sector which already faces bureaucratic slow down. The Connected Health Initiative is committed to helping clear those hurdles.
Health providers already have issues protecting their records, so perhaps there’s an opportunity to secure these. Whichever way you enter the market, it’s clear that there needs to be consideration for a mobile component given phones are everywhere and the amount of time we spend on them. Meet people where there attention is already drawn and make it easier for them to engage with your product or service.
Got ideas on how to enter this market? You know who to talk to.