The coming 4th Industrial Revolution is about harnessing efficiency gains through data science.
We have already mastered the development of information technology networks needed to pull data across the entire planet, the question is what do we do with it, and how will it improve our lives?
Right now there are significant gaps in healthcare between information we can extract from a patient, and how we process it and integrate it into our lives.
This is more relevant now than ever before because we are hearing daily how our healthcare system is lacking the ability to test, diagnose and treat patients for COVID-19. In addition to equipment and diagnostic tools, one of the shortages is the healthcare professionals themselves.
20 years from now it will likely seem archaic to go to a doctor for treatment when at the core of their training is strict memorization of algorithm trees based on test outcomes to determine the right diagnosis and treatment approach; which is something a computer can do with more consistency, repeatability and without the error of cognitive and social biases.
No healthcare professional would want to hear this, but the truth is we have already abandoned human judgement in numerous other fields (i.e. autonomous flying, military defense systems, distribution and inventory management systems).
Healthcare may be resistant to change due to the touchy-feely goodness of a doctor and over played dramatizations on television, but the truth is most primary care doctors and healthcare professionals are overworked, overstressed, and most visits have very little time for small-talk-niceties. If you have a different experience you are truly lucky, and there are no doubt extremely talented and blessed people working in this field with an unimaginable amount of dedication and moral compass to keep patients comfortable, despite the overhanging complexities of healthcare insurance billing and malpractice risks.
But enough is enough when change is knocking at your door and opportunities await. The information technology sector has disrupted many industries and healthcare will be no different.
We need healthcare to service patients faster and to service patients at home.
We need better diagnostic tools with real time data.
We need performance tracking and trending.
We need healthcare to be personalized based on individual genetics and biochemistry.
A doctor alone cannot achieve the change we need without disruption from the information technology sector. A sad irony is that sometimes we know more about the purchasing habits, and preferences of a consumer than the origin of a patients heath condition and health history due to the targeted implementation of AI in consumer discretionary fields. While people are begging for free healthcare, what we really should ask our government to do is invest in our healthcare infrastructure and financially support information technology sector to disrupt and simplify an outdated, oligarchical and monopolistic system.
Healthcare companies have tremendous investment expenses and overhead costs; and a significant portion of which is dedicated to the management of chronic disease states (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, cancer). How we reduce the financial burden on our healthcare system is identify and manage risk factors before chronic disease states require treatment. This requires continual data monitoring of biometrics (i.e. blood pressure, heart rate, inflammation factors, etc.) and data that can be screened in blood samples.
There is a tremendous opportunity to shift our perspective on health as an investment, not something that must be continually rescued and saved. I hope it is not wasted.
“It’s the Christmas star. And that’s all that matters tonight. Not bonuses or gifts or turkeys or trees. See kids, it means something different to everybody. Now I know what it means to me.”
— Clark Griswold