“Gradually. Then suddenly.” A three-word call to action for healthcare.
If you want a concise way to explain why the healthcare system needs to get ahead of the coming changes enabled by advances in technology and medicine, you couldn’t do much better than the three words in the title of this post.
They come from a presentation in the US by CB Insights at its first Future of Health conference. Their insight was that change tends to sneak up on the bigger players in any given market until at some point a tipping point is reached and it can be too late to respond.
It has happened in many other sectors and could easily happen in healthcare. The presentation refers to Amazon unbundling pharmacy and Google unbundling the hospital. Whether or not you agree with the analysis, this is an echo of what has happened elsewhere — single use applications growing into wider platforms
The long-term result, therefore, could be extensive replacement/ disintermediation of public healthcare systems by the large US tech companies. This of course has implications and this trend needs to be explored, discussed and debated if we are not to sleep walk into it.
There is a bottom up acceleration of tech innovation across the health and wellness landscape. Healthcare is going to be increasingly a data science as wider approaches to biological, physiological and behavioural monitoring (or surveillance if you prefer — but basically ‘always on’) start to take root.
This makes access to data, analysis and data driven decision making a core foundation of a 21st century health and care system — and the nature of its collection, storage and use will require wide-ranging debate on privacy and ethics if the answers are not be purely commercially driven.
CB Inisghts argues that “Technology is no longer about supporting the business. Technology is the business.” And from a narrowly commercial perspective, looking at health as a business like other business, they might be right.
More challengingly they also ask: “Will healthcare understand tech before tech understands healthcare?”
It’s a fabulous question; but we’d put it differently in the context of a healthcare system. We’d ask: “Will today’s healthcare system understand the future of healthcare so that technology advances can be put to best use to create a sustainable, effective and ethically robust public health and care system before technology drives a purely commercial answer to these questions.”
This is why long-term, system-level thinking is needed. Now.
Beyond the Fog is a start to that thinking. Download the summary report here and get in touch if you’d like to find out more or get involved with our plans.