The famous computer scientist, Alan Kay, once said that technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born. For those of us born before the advent of the internet and mobile phone, they are still marvels of technology. But for our children they are ambient. For them, self-driving cars, drone deliveries or virtual buddies like Alexa will be novel and new.
In healthcare, we haven’t always welcomed new technologies. The resistance towards the adaptation of electronic medical records is a good example. Many physicians kicked and screamed their way before embracing EMRs – however reluctantly. Thankfully, for most of our younger doctors dealing with EMRs comes naturally. After all, they were never exposed to using paper charts in their practice.
Our new generation of physicians will have an abundance of tools and technologies at their disposal. The wave of innovation is indeed sweeping all corners of healthcare. But this time around something much bigger than rapid diagnostics or robot radiologists is afoot. We believe that the new generation of doctors will be the key catalysts to force the convergence of enterprise and consumer markets in healthcare. Not only did our young physicians grow up with wireless internet and mobile phones, but they are also avid users of consumer healthcare technologies themselves. These are doctors who routinely perform virtual visits, have multiple professional and personal healthcare apps on their smart phones and watches, demand real time alerts about their patients, prescribe mobile apps rather than medication; the list goes on and on.
Seamless access to medical records on our phones is just the beginning of this convergence. As monitoring and diagnostic apps turn our smart phones or watches into “medicalized” devices, health records will be continuously refreshed and updated. Many of today’s medical students and our youngest doctors look at technology to free them from routine or mundane tasks. They want procedures such as check ups, testing, basic diagnosis, prescriptions and behavioral modification be done by mobile apps, passive/active data collection and analytics. This generation of doctors views its role more as a synthesizer and analyzer of data which leaves them time to see more patients and deal with tougher cases.
The days of thinking about enterprise vs. consumer market in our industry are ending sooner than many realize. Insurgents such as Google, Apple, Amazon and a host of hungry entrepreneurs want a piece of the $40 trillion that will be spent on healthcare in the next ten years. And our young doctors are happy to lay the path smooth.