The App-ification of Healthcare

Comments Off on The App-ification of Healthcare
The App-ification of Healthcare

The healthcare industry is both remarkably advanced and woefully primitive. The technologies that doctors use to treat diseases and other medical conditions are constantly improving, with scientists relentlessly unveiling new developments like functional MRI, stem cell therapy, robotic surgery, and gene therapy.

But at the same time, the interface with the patients who use that system is, for the most part, stuck in the 1950s. In most doctor’s offices, patients must still sign in when they arrive using paper and pen, then sit in a waiting room while the physician rushes through his appointments, scribbling notes on medical charts and writing prescriptions by hand.

It’s no surprise, then, that the productivity of the healthcare industry is lagging behind the rest of the economy.

By 2024, according to U.S. government projections, healthcare will account for nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy, up from today’s already staggering 17 percent. Annual healthcare spending will grow from about $3 trillion to more than $5.4 trillion over the next eight years.1

Tragically, much of that spending is wasted on inefficient processes, procedures, and systems. According to Bret Swanson, a Fellow of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, “Between 1990 and 2010, while the rest of the American economy enjoyed annual productivity gains of around 2 percent, American healthcare productivity actually declined 0.6 percent per year. Over twenty years, that’s a productivity differential of around 60 percent. If we could raise the productivity of healthcare, which is about one-sixth of GDP, we could substantially improve the nation’s economic health.”2

The easiest way to increase the productivity of healthcare is to take advantage of a device that both doctors and patients already carry in their pockets—smartphones.

To grasp just how powerful this technology is and how rapidly it is advancing, consider that 45 years ago, the Intel 4004 microprocessor consisted of 2,300 transistors. Today’s iPhone 6 and iPad run on Apple A8 chips, which hold 2 billion transistors.

Now consider that in a single quarter (the last three months of 2014) Apple sold 96 million iPhones and iPads. During that time, the sales from just that one company resulted in consumers acquiring 30 quintillion transistors for everyday use. In their personal devices, as Swanson points out, individuals now enjoy more computing power than hospitals and insurance companies used only ten years ago.

While industries throughout the rest of the economy are becoming more efficient thanks to smartphone apps—think Uber in the transportation industry, for instance—healthcare has failed to embrace the potential of this new technology...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund