Innovation is defined as a new idea, more effective device or process. Healthcare is widely considered one of the least innovative business sectors by the tech industry and yet, according to a recent survey by Ketchum, consumers value innovation in healthcare above innovation in all other industries. Considering that many doctors still fax prescriptions to pharmacies to be filled, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this group is slow to adopt technological advances. Things are changing though.
One big innovation in the healthcare sector in recent years is the development of wearable technology. Now, your wristwatch can track your heart rate and help you become a better runner, the pedometer has been replaced with a fitness tracker that monitors your activity all day long and helps you manage your diet and your jewelry can monitor your sun exposure and remind you to put on sunscreen. These devices are allowing people to take more control over their lifestyle. So many of us sat in our office all day then after work maybe we’d go to the gym for 20-30 minutes finally we’d drive through and pick up a burger on our way home to zone out in front of the T.V. We’d think that because we made it to the gym we’re doing okay, but wearables are giving everyone a chance to get a clearer picture of their health.
With all of these gadgets and gizmos aimed at improving our daily life and wellbeing, consumers want to be more connected with their medical care. Two early examples are telehealth and electronic medical records. Telehealth offers convenience with the promise of not compromising the standard of care. Now, if you need acute care you can go to your local community hospital vs. driving into the city to seek treatment. Reminiscent of house calls, telehealth brings the highly-specialized doctor or general practitioner to the patient instead of making a sick patient travel to seek care. Similarly, electronic health records keep the patient informed by delivering lab results, after-care instructions and vitals to the patient online.
They say timing is everything and the growth of big data coupled with the Affordable Care Act is ushering in a new wave of innovation in healthcare. Big data will now be able to provide researchers and physicians with large amounts of key information that they will be able to analyze and then cultivate new, more effective treatment plans. All of this data will also help to drive costs down by keenly identifying risk and allowing payers, providers, employers and individuals to work together to streamline care.
While the healthcare industry isn’t widely considered innovative, there have been strides in recent years to bring new ideas and technologies to the table to streamline patient care and reduce rising healthcare costs. All of this means a more connected and efficient healthcare system that will finally catch up to the 21st century.