Healthcare Recoded … digital platforms and devices, big data and AI, new business models and experiences, are creating a future of personal and predictive healthcare

February 27, 2020

Through positive wellness and personalised pharma, robotics and genetics, digital applications and patient-centric business models … the future of health is about specialisation and innovation, patient-centric solutions that are faster and more efficient. The fast-changing science is one factor, however far more significant is the convergence of pharma and biotech, insurance and hospitals, physicians and pharmacists … working together to make life better.

For just $99 we can see our life before us, with a DNA profile from 23 and Me, and as a result we go to PatientsLikeMe to find out how others have responded. We eat the best foods from GSK, and check our daily fitness with Nike+, maybe with a little help from Avumio’s diagnostic apps and online advice from Dr Koop.

If we need help, we turn to ZocDoc where a local nurse with Epocrates at his fingertips, who prescribes a standard drug from Wuxi, or a custom prescription from Genentech. A night in W Hotel’s clinic, or a surgical trip to Antalya is unlikely. Instead we spray on our L’Oreal skin protection, sip on our super-vitamin Zespri kiwi juice, and smile.

7 “gamechangers” in healthcare

The future of healthcare is personal, predictive and proactive, using advanced diagnostics so that people can themselves understand their likely conditions, and take better actions now to reduce risks or avoid illnesses. In this sense it is about positive wellbeing, rather than caring or curing. However when misfortune does strike, then care is about patients and personalisation, putting people at the heart of the medical process, supported by physicians and pharmaceuticals which are right for individuals.

  • 23andMe – The $99 DNA profile could change your life
  • Babylon Health – Everyone’s personal, mobile health service
  • Buurtzorg – The revolutionary Dutch healthcare model
  • CVS Health – From negative pharmacy to positive wellness
  • Grail – To detect cancer early, when it can be cured
  • One Medical – Healthcare reinvented, any service, when you need it
  • Organovo – 3D printing of body parts to order

What’s new in 2020?

Technological innovations are transforming healthcare – from the most advanced surgical procedures, to the way in which generic drugs are sold and delivered. But while all eyes are on blockchain, 3D printing, machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and internet of things (IoT),  technology is is only one part of the story. The key factor will be shifts in consumer behavior.

Putting personal information online is the new normal. And in turn, people are becoming increasingly comfortable sharing details about their lives – including their health and wellbeing. Equally, people increasingly trust digital interfaces rather than demanding human interactions in all cases.

Improved telecoms, 5G and mobile devices enable real time support:

  • Stuward VU: Switzerland-based healthcare company Stuward recently launched a telemedicine application amid the roll-out of 5G. The service helps connect independent medical professionals with people seeking online consultations. It was created partly to help doctors better compete with the much larger tech companies that generally have significantly larger marketing budgets and other administrative resources at their disposal.
  • Eedoctors from Switzerland has created the first virtual doctor’s office using smartphones. The company established this app to enable formal diagnoses through virtual consultations, which had been a challenge for previous telemedicine companies because of bandwidth issues and other limitations. This remote consultation service is quickly becoming a prominent healthcare trend in Switzerland and facilitates online visits with general practitioners and emergency physicians.

Data enables healthcare to be more predictive:

  • Medopad is a London-based healthcare startup supported by pharmaceutical company Bayer. The company has developed an app that compiles and analyzes health data from patient wearables, mobile devices, and medical bodies to predict chronic diseases. With the use of both big data and machine learning, the startup wants to “understand, treat, and ultimately prevent ill health“. Medopad recently acquired rival Sherbit, another startup that also uses personal data collected from sensors, apps, and devices in uncovering health insights.
  • AIME, which stands for artificial intelligence in medical epidemiology, is a US-based startup that uses machine learning and big data analytics to predict in real-time where and when infectious disease outbreaks will occur. The end goal is to detect outbreaks in advance and keep them in check. AIME has a bot named REDINT that scours over 40 databases of weather, geographical, and epidemiological data. According to AIME’s CEO, Dr. Helmi Zakariah, AIME’s use throughout the healthcare sector is crucial to its success. The system will be ineffective if it does not have “a continuous stream of new disease incidence data” that it can use to continue learning.

Drug distribution improves through automation and robotics

  • Pensiamo, a technology spinoff of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), has recently developed CognitiveRx, a tool for predicting drug supply disruption risk. The tool was developed together with supply chain technology provider Premier. Powered by machine learning, CognitiveRx is a valuable tool that hospitals can use in the rapid identification of solutions related to purchasing and inventory. Jim Szilagy, chief supply chain officer of UPMC and Pensiamo’s CEO, says that with CognitiveRx, patients across the United States will have a higher chance of receiving the medication they need at the time they need it. US Healthcare Provider Premier will soon offer CognitiveRx to its member health systems and hospitals.
  • Matternet: Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles used as a solution to logistical problems in healthcare is one of the healthcare trends in the US to watch. The United Parcel Service (UPS), for example, is currently partnering with California-based drone technology startup Matternet to work on the delivery of medical samples across WakeMed Health & Hospitals’ campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. The expectation is that with drone delivery, same-day and on-demand delivery of medical specimens and samples will be possible, and consequently, hospital costs will be reduced, and the patient experience will improve. It was in 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland, that Matternet first tested a drone delivery system for transporting pathology and blood samples. Since then, Matternet has significantly expanded its Swiss operations and has conducted over 1,700 drone flights to execute over 850 deliveries of patient samples.

AI is transforming making healthcare more personal and predictive

  • iCarbonX is a healthcare startup that‘s created a patient data platform to collect patient information, and monitor, understand, analyze, and improve the lives of its users through technology. The platform uses AI combined with the patients’ medical history, behavioral, and biological data to create a map of human health based on information collected from patients all over the world. The information collected is then used to learn from diseases, classify conditions, make more accurate diagnoses, and provide better treatments.
  • PathAI is one of the top startups disrupting the healthcare industry with AI. PathAI’s goal is to use AI to improve cancer diagnosis and solve pathology problems. PathAI uses data collected over many years and combines it with AI to integrate technologies that improve decision-making and treatment. According to Adhitya Khosla, CTO of the company, PathAI will help pathologists through algorithms that extract images from the clients’ blood, tissues, or scans to detect cancer, decreasing the rate of human error, and detecting cancer earlier.