Tech Tonics
Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare With Technology?

Health matters.

“When you have your health, you have everything,” wrote memoirist Augusten Burroughs. “When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.”

Health can also be very expensive, and reducing costs isn’t easy, since as Stanford health policy expert Victor Fuchs famously observed, “Every dollar of waste is income to some individual or organization.”

One key challenge healthcare faces today is figuring out how to maintain health and deliver better care for patients while somehow keeping in check the overall costs associated with these activities.

The good news is that there is now the massive potential for healthcare transformation. Data-driven analysis has called into question many traditional healthcare assumptions, and permits us to view the challenges in a fresh light. For instance, there seems to be little correlation between healthcare cost and quality—and great care can be delivered at lower cost if we can improve the alignment of incentives among patients, payers, and providers.

Key drivers of healthcare change are the intense economic pressure of healthcare costs, the impact—to be determined—associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the advent of inexpensive and widely accessible technologies; together these have created a platform for industry transformation the likes of which has not been seen since the dawn of modern surgery.

And it’s about time. Technology has been used to optimize and redefine virtually every key industry except healthcare. Manufacturing has gone from human assembly lines to robotics; banking has gone from tellers to home banking; travel has gone from agents with brochures to Travelocity; and yet the practice of medicine, in many ways, hasn’t changed in decades.

Many of today’s most passionate entrepreneurs are trying to bring the dazzle and real promise of technology innovation to the challenges of healthcare, resulting in an explosion of companies focused on everything from wearable sensors and weight-loss apps to big data analytics and GPS-tagged hospital equipment—the “internet of things.”

These emerging tools and promising technologies—which collectively comprise “digital health”—offer a promising path forward, and entrepreneurs and innovators are forging forward seeking to make a real difference in a field which we all need but which is sorely in need of its own tender loving care if it is to flourish in tomorrow’s world.

As Hippocrates once said, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” And technology—if judiciously applied—may be just the tonic to help reinvigorate the health of our healthcare industry.

The key challenge faced by would-be disruptive technologists is not only recognizing potentially useful analogs from other industries, but also understanding the ways in which health remains fundamentally different.

Amid the clamor to disrupt healthcare, we should also take care to preserve and augment what may be right about medicine—the doctor/patient relationship for example, or the drive of inquisitive physicians, especially within academic centers, to continuously push and challenge the limits of what is known and what is possible.

In Tech Tonics—a distillation of our writing and thinking over the last several years—we introduce the reader to the fascinating digital health space, including a ground-level view of the landscape, the structural challenges, the players, and the progress.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

David
Shaywitz
  • Dr. Shaywitz trained in internal medicine and endocrinology at MGH, and conducted his post-doctoral research in the Melton lab at Harvard. He gained experience in early clinical drug development in the Department of Experimental Medicine at Merck, then joined the Boston Consulting Group’s Healthcare and Corporate Development practices, where he focused on strategy and organizational design. He is currently Director of Strategic and Commercial Planning at Theravance, a publicly-held drug development company in South San Francisco. He recently wrote Tech Tonics: Can Passionate Entreprenuers Heal Healthcare With Technology? 

  • Email: davidshaywitz.aei@gmail.com

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 14
    MON
  • 15
    TUE
  • 16
    WED
  • 17
    THU
  • 18
    FRI
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Calling treason by its name: A conversation with Liam Fox

Join us at AEI as the Right Honorable Liam Fox sits down with Marc Thiessen to discuss and debate whether America’s intelligence agencies have infringed on the personal privacy of US citizens.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The curmudgeon's guide to getting ahead

How can young people succeed in workplaces dominated by curmudgeons who are judging their every move? At this AEI book event, bestselling author and social scientist Charles Murray will offer indispensable advice for navigating the workplace, getting ahead, and living a fulfilling life.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.