Hospital-as-a-Service – Coming Soon?
Today, depending on where one lives, but particularly in Europe, we face the reality of a rapidly aging population. This has become a key driver of the trend toward remote healthcare. While it’s certainly true that with the help of technology we will live longer and more safely at home, what kind of business models will emerge from here? As scary as it might sound, what if we had, say, an Uber of doctors?
Before you run screaming to the hills, hear me out. While many doctors would leap to protest, and to their likely chagrin, most medical processes are fairly simple and straight forward; you take the person’s temperature, measure their heart rate and blood pressure, examine their ears, eyes, nose and throat, listen to their heart and lungs and touch their lymph nodes. While traditionally the value of the doctor in the exam room is not the measurement taking, but the data itself and the doctor’s expertise in assessing it. But even this doesn’t ring very 20’s and the era of ubiquitous digitization.
Just like autonomous vehicles will soon prove vastly safer than the human-conducted kind, big data driven, rather than doctor-driven patient prognoses will reveal similarly-improved outcomes. Already today, complex algorithms, and photo-recognition can generate more accurate assessments, and at considerable lower cost than with a doctor. Of course, when it comes to actual treatment,that will certainly remain in the doctor’s wheelhouse, along with the high cost structure it currently imposes.
So back to at first horrendous idea of the ‘Uberfication’ of the medical checkup, we can see a new scenario where we can, with the help of a not-so-trained, well-equipped “Uber-nurse”, DIY the whole thing right from home. But what next? How do we make sense of the results? With the proper provisions for ensuring high-volume, high-quality real-time data analysis to and from the cloud, a new, digitally empowered, patient-driven preventative healthcare model begins to emerge. This is where the Hospital-as-a-Service / Clinic-as-a-Service concept comes into play.
Like the venerable payphone, the Taxi stand will soon disappear. Though you still see them some in places in cities, like its rotary dial contemporary, it won’t be long before the very idea becomes laughable. Remember, back when you had to walk somewhere to get a taxi? And we’re seeing it everywhere, from the way we shop to the way we eat to the way we bank, everything is up for grabs, and everything that came before seems somewhere between quaint and stupid. So it’s not so far-fetched to think the same could happen with medical treatment.
Let’s take a closer look at the experience today to see how well it maps to various other Uberized industries.
Just like walking to a taxi stand to get a ride, it’s really quite silly to have to go to the hospital, a place generally filled with sick people, to sit in a waiting room or stand in line, thus exposed, only take some measurements and go home (maybe with the measles). Rather, from the relative hygiene of your home, and with a reliable connection and your own basic, cloud-wired medical equipment or an equipped Uber-nurse you can run all the tests as lower cost and risk.
Down the road, we can easily imagine that these mobile “check up kits” could be delivered to your home by drone on demand, with simple instructions on how to connect and operate them. Here the measurement, analysis and cloud all come in at a very low expense, while the training and hiring of (last step) doctors and nurses is and will remain, quite the opposite.
If we follow the logic that preventing illness is the best way to have a longer, healthier life, we should actually do basic health check ups every day and let the algorithms do the analysis. The best part here is that as algorithms improve over time we can re-run analysis and always have the most accurate assessment.
Though here I am just talking about very basic things blood pressure, EKG, lungs, ears etc., those things that we can easily do today, but blood samples will most certainly be there some day soon. No doubt, but that this will revolutionize healthcare not only saving tonnes of money, but providing significantly better outcomes and healthier lives. And with cloud at the center and aggregated data available universally, the healthcare business suddenly becomes globalized (beyond just pharma), as everyone, everywhere can access the best and latest data and algorithms.