What is the future of digital healthcare?

Are you one of the people asking about what is the future of healthcare? If yes, you are not the only one. I’ve spent the last few years working on a healthcare startup and healthcare has a very clear direction. This is what I predict for the next few years.

1. DIGITIZED WORKFLOWS

Many care providers still use offline and paper-based workflows. For example when providing chronic and mental health care, patients have to adhere to their treatment plans every day. Because they have their plan somewhere on the piece of paper, it’s not surprising that they don’t adhere. Instead these treatment plans should take the form of a smartphone app, a series of emails.

The other example is patient screening right before each office visit. In most cases, patients still get a clipboard with a stack of paper forms. Instead, practices can use tablets that immediately evaluate patients’ answers and share the scores with the doctor before the patient is seen. And the doctors can (in many cases) bill insurance companies for doing this.

2. INTEGRATIONS

It’s almost impossible to build a “one size fits all” solution in health care. Various software, like EHRs, tele-health platforms, monitoring software, sensors, patient screening (mentioned above) and many other will have to integrate at one point. Of course, I’m sure that many large vendors are going to acquire smaller and niche products. What also creates an opportunity for startups and small companies.

3. LEARNING BY DOING MISTAKES

I believe that the transition period to “fully” digitized healthcare has to lead to many strategic mistakes. We may even see some big healthcare technology players go out of business, and see as-of-yet unknown players rise to prominence. Even though healthcare is a very sensitive industry, we need to keep testing and doing things instead of sitting around waiting for a perfect solution.

4. VALUE INSTEAD OF EMPTY SEXINESS

Even though I can’t deny the fact that sensors and wearables, as well as data mining and algorithms are going to play a significant role in the future, most of the patients and providers aren’t going to need it. Everyone involved (including investors, care providers, patients, tech companies) is going to realize that less is more and simple solutions are better then needlessly complex ones. Think of finance industry and how easy it is to send money or pay bills. Or how easy is to get a taxi. That level of access and convenience is key to innovating healthcare.

5. INCREASED FOCUS ON MENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

People suffer from many chronic conditions (diabetes, obesity, asthma, etc) and the treatment isn’t very effective. One of the main reasons is that they also suffer from depression or anxiety, which go untreated. Being depressed while diabetic often leads patients to lower treatment plan adherence. So morning exercise gets skipped, and donuts enter the diet plan.

As a result, the patient does not maintain weight, does not improve their health status, and continues to require very expensive diabetes interventions. We need to address the co-occurring mental health condition to prevent relapses and unnecessary medical expenses.

How do you see healthcare in the future? Let me know in comments and let’s discuss.

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