Healthcare stands on the precipice of a digital revolution. Who will help usher in the new era it so sorely needs?
Tech industry behemoths like Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have announced intentions to leverage their high-tech superpowers to increase efficiencies and improve patient outcomes in an unwieldy US healthcare system. Expectations are high and promises are many, but strategies and details have been murky and few.
Can medicine trust outside players to deliver the pick-me-up it so sorely needs? Or will a tech revolution have to come from within? We tapped five of the brightest minds in digital medicine to investigate live at our studio headquarters.
A Healthcare Analytics News® Peer Exchange®
Kevin R. Campbell, MD: Hello, and thank you for joining this Healthcare Analytics News® Peer Exchange® titled, “Can Outside Disruption Save Healthcare?” We could not have picked a better time to hold this discussion as Amazon has officially entered the digital pharmacy space through its acquisition of PillPack. Google, Apple, Uber, and a lot of other Silicon Valley all-stars are also focusing on healthcare with the goal of targeting the complex problems that the healthcare industry has been unable to solve on its own. Today, we’ll discuss which areas are ripe for change, which tech companies are doing the disrupting, how they’re doing it, and what this all means for healthcare organizations. Most importantly, what does it mean for patients?
I’m Dr. Kevin Campbell, and I’m a Duke-trained cardiologist; the CEO of PaceMate; an on-air medical expert for local and national TV news; and a proud member of the Healthcare Analytics News® editorial advisory board.
Participating today on our distinguished panel is Colin Hung, who is the chief marketing officer and editor of HealthcareScene.com, and founder and host of the Healthcare Leadership Online Community, better known as HCLDR. We also have Dr. Geeta Nayyar, chief healthcare and innovation officer for Fernwell Group Health, and a nationally recognized leader in healthcare information technology. She’s been named one of the top 26 smartest people in Health IT by Becker’s Report, and I can attest to that. We also have John Nosta, president and founder of NostaLab, faculty member of Singularity University, member of the Google Health Advisory Board, member of MYOS Corporation’s board of directors, senior editor and editorial board member for Lifestyle Medicine Journal, and a contributor to both Forbes and Psychology Today. We’re also joined by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, who is a health economist and advisor for THINK-Health. She’s a blogger for Health Populi, contributor to the Huffington Post, and a member of several healthcare company advisory boards. Again, thank you so much for joining us today. Let’s dive right in.
Geeta, let me ask you the first question. It’s the hope of many that outside disrupters will enter healthcare and solve its problems, which are widely varying problems. Depending on which expert you ask, you’re going to get a different answer. What specific issues in the industry do you consider ripe for this sort of disruption, and why?
Geeta Nayyar, MD, MBA: Well, Kevin, first, thanks so much for having me on. In my mind, there’s actually only one, and it’s about access. Whether it is getting the consumer more access to their doctor online or in person, or whether it’s getting them access to low-cost pharmaceuticals in person or online, it is all about connecting the patient with the doctor, period.
Kevin R. Campbell, MD: I think those are very important points. John, what do you think about?
John Nosta, BA: Geeta, you can guess what I’m going to say. I disagree with you 100%. If I’m a patient with a rare cancer or a particular clinical scenario, I want the technology first, because access without technology is no good. I think it might be a little bit of a double-edge sword. But I’m reminded of things like immuno-oncology. The magic of personalized cancer therapy is really a function of the personalized science, and not the personalized access. I guess it may be 2 sides of the same coin, but I think that the magic lives with the science and the technology.
Geeta Nayyar, MD, MBA: I agree with you. I actually don’t disagree with you. But the technology is what’s going to help us expand the access, right? It’s not that I want technology; I don’t go to the doctor because I want technology. I go to the doctor because I want access to the solution to my problem. If technology helps me, I’m there. But I’m not going to the doctor for the technology, no way, no how.
Kevin R. Campbell, MD: I would add that I think you’re both right. The reason I do is because, just as Geeta just said, technology provides access. A perfect example, I went to the South Pacific last summer to provide medical care to a remote population, and I took an AliveCor EGC device and did an EKG on every patient. I engaged those patients. They understood what a heart rhythm was. They understood their heart had electrical activity, and they wanted to make sure they were OK. We granted access through technology. Jane, what do you think about this whole role?
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA: I think I have some glue that can do the kumbaya. When I look at the nature of this question, which is what outside disrupters can do to help us solve the intractable problems we have, I’m a health economist so I think about waste. We are so fragmented, especially in United States healthcare and the patient that John’s talking about, who may not have access to a particular cure because it’s somewhere else or their doctor doesn’t know about it; or what Geeta’s talking about in terms of physical access, logistical access, and literacy access. If we look to defragment the industry in the way Amazon has streamlined an encounter or Iora Health has brought social determinants of health together with a resilient IT infrastructure, we start to defragment and make the patient journey and access to this care wonderful. We serve it up where it needs to be, at the right time, as you served up the AliveCor just in time to your population. For me, it’s the fragmentation that really gets to me.
Kevin R. Campbell, MD: The glue that sticks it all together.
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA: Yes.
Kevin R. Campbell, MD: Colin, I want to hear your thoughts. I know you’re from Canada, so you have a little bit different perspective than what we have here in the United States.
Colin Hung, BaSC: Yes. I come from the land of socialist healthcare, where wait times are actually not as long and I’m still alive.
Kevin R. Campbell, MD: Are you on a waiting list for a pacemaker?
Colin Hung, BaSC: No, I am not. Actually, when I saw this question, I looked at a very different aspect of healthcare. For me, what’s ripe for disruption is education, medical education. I think if you can start there, you can have lasting change. When I look at how we teach our physicians and how we teach nurses, the approaches that they take are from the 1960s. Now there have been some changes, but for me, I would love to see more incorporation of the latest technology—figuring out how to incorporate that technology into something as simple as the visit—and then, of course, the analytic side. How can we help these physicians and clinicians interpret this mountain of data that they’re faced down with? I don’t think a lot of the traditional teachings, the way we’ve taught, allow people to effectively look at those data.
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