Remember the tricorder from the Star Trek franchise? With a few knob turns and switch flips, the immensely wise medical officer diagnosed the “fallen” crewmate and immediately provided a treatment that would mend the wounds and alleviate the bleeding. “One day,” many of us uttered while watching the Doc do his work, “One day we’ll have tricorders of our own.”
Well, physicians and other care providers may not have a tricorder in the medical bag yet, but there is a host of technologies bringing the best of the digital world into examining rooms, triage clinics, and ORs, too. As the digital age increasingly impacts all venues of healthcare, we are watching healthcare visionaries like Ara Chackerian move technologies from the research and development labs into our neighborhood medical clinics and homes. The impact is obvious. Technology’s intrinsic speed and computing power lead to faster decisions, more effective treatment opportunities, and better outcomes for both patients and providers.
Patients desire effective healthcare treatments while insurance providers seek cost control and positive, long-term outcomes from treatments. Digital interventions in healthcare offer the potential of a “win-win” for two constituencies that tend to be at odds with one another. Digital interventions are broad in benefit, as they foster opportunities to do everything from monitoring a patient’s sleep patterns to reviewing a physician’s stitching technique. While not intended to replace the interactions shared between the identified patient and the various providers, digital interventions may decrease the number of time providers must spend on diagnostic work, record keeping, and the like. A streamlined “paper stream” offers providers more opportunity to talk to their patients, modeling the kind of bedside manner that builds trust and rapport.
Healthcare providers continually decry the poor quality of interactions with their patients. Bombarded with cumbersome record-keeping requirements, and squeezed by hospital systems intent on putting more patients on the provider’s daily schedules, medical professionals must often record patient data as they interact with the patient, which reduces eye contact and the quality of conversation. The digital domain offers a host of terrific remedies for this problem, including a digital scribe called “Augmedix.” Picture a physician, nurse, or other providers with “Google Glass” affixed to their temples. As the provider interacts with the patient, the device is transmitting video of the exam along with the patient’s “vitals” to a remote transcriptionist. The patient is effectively treated, the documentation of the exam and treatment plan is appropriately recorded, and both patient and provider leave feeling positive about the quality of the interpersonal interaction. This is the type of digital/clinical nexus that Ara Chackerian and cohort envision for the healthcare environment.
The Big Data Advantage
We’ve already touched on the amount of documentation and data produced in healthcare settings. Even the patient who arrives at the hospital in need of just a few stitches will leave with page after page of information detailing his or her condition, treatment, mode of payment, a release of liability, etc. The information load is staggering. Luckily, cloud-based storage venues like “Pulse” continue to offer providers a safe and secure depository for patient information and all the supporting data produced when a patient enters a clinic. What separates a digital space like Pulse from other storage platforms, is the fact that Pulse provides “Dynamic Risk Stratification” based on compiled data. With a few keystrokes, providers will be able to see how a patient’s data appears against a backdrop of other patient profiles. Does the data point to a higher risk of stroke or heart attack? Does a patient with this kind of data profile respond well to “X” medication or would “Y” work better? Digital advances in data storage and review could provide projective outcomes in patient care.
Insurance Company Envisioning
So-called “New Model” insurance companies bill themselves at tech companies that carry a digital edge into the insurance marketplace. Designed to keep costs low and patient outcomes high, the “New Models” use high-tech data analysis to monitor patient spending, the efficacy of various treatment models, and the effectiveness of actuary forecasts. These insurers, like Oscar and Clover, receive funding from traditional insurers and private investors who are interested in the prospect of leveraging data to improve the price point and quality of healthcare. Will the “New Model” approach supplant the traditional insurance market? It’s too soon to tell.
The futurists like Ara Chackerian assert that the digital age in healthcare delivery is here to stay. Indeed, it’s hard to argue against the efficacy of tech-centric insurers and providers that use the best of the digital world to enhance patient outcomes while streamlining the tasks providers must complete in addition to offering excellent patient care. Can technology provide all these preferred outcomes at a cost that doesn’t “break the bank?” Well, here’s what we know about technology. As “dreams” move into implementation, there’s more buy-in from the marketplace. Over time, digital advances will lower costs and improve the other “measurables” of healthcare delivery.
Ara Chackerian is passionate about healthcare, technology, and the advancement of humanity. A successful philanthropist, businessman, and visionary, Chackerian asks the important questions about our shared human experience and seeks the appropriate answers.
A graduate of Florida State University, Ara Chackerian travels the world to improve lives, build good businesses, and trumpet the cause of digital innovation in healthcare. He currently resides in California.
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