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Technological possibilities and healthcare reality are out of sync

At the Reinventing Healthcare event this week, healthcare futurists and other thought leaders in healthcare took to the stage to talk about what they believe is the (not so distant) future of this ever so important industry. Innovators in tech, medicine and both talked about a cancer test as simple as a pregnancy test, or a 3D printed pill that replaces people's daily handful of supplements.

Stanford, Harvard-trained physician-scientist Daniel Kraft was the host for the evening, or as this article states: ‘our resident Doctor of Disruption’.

Kraft told his audience what started him on the path to change healthcare for the better: ‘Celebrating the hospital’s 200th anniversary (and 20th anniversary of his own days as a resident there), he looked at the fax machines and the otherwise outdated, frozen-in-time technology, saw how they affected the procedures on the floor and realized then, more than ever that we’re still practicing healthcare like we have for hundreds of years.’

So things are out of sync. Here we are in a digital age where wearables can monitor heart patients and tell the more their cardiologist if everything is fine, where artificial intelligence can sift through 700,000 images in a few second and help make a correct diagnosis. Apps and smartphones help make healthcare more accessible.

Healthcare hasn’t changed

But the healthcare system hasn’t changed. the experience of going to the doctor or the hospital is out of sync with the capabilities we can access. Think about it from the data side; the information we currently give and get from an annual visit to the doctor is intermittent and episodic, as Kraft put it. We get a blood pressure reading… then we wait for the heart attack or stroke. Through the re-imagination of healthcare, we can be more proactive than reactive and lose the idea of “sick care” our current system is reinforcing.

From wearables to insidables

Kraft laid out his plans to change that, with some concepts already being pioneered. If you know about wearables, you need to learn more about insideables and trainables. You probably have an app that monitors some part of your activity, like your steps, nudging you if you’ve been sedentary for too long. WiFi can pick up vital signs of ten people in one room. One day, a wearable will be able to nudge you before you have a heart attack. The days of streaming all of our healthcare are here, said Kraft.

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