The Consumerization of Health Care

health-technology-futureTwo conferences with seemingly very different agendas were held across the street from each other in San Diego last week, but a closer look reveals these two meetings were linked through a common vision of what consumer health care could be in the future.

The first conference, AARP’s Life at 50+ Exposition, was a large consumer trade show event, with countless vendor offerings and celebrity speakers including Kevin Spacey, Arianna Huffington, Joan Lunden, and Martha Stewart.

Another notable speaker at this AARP event was futurist Michio Kaku (he’s also a theoretical physicist), who provided an entertaining view of what medical technology and health care could be like 50 years from now – including personal health sensors woven into everyday clothing, 3-D printing of replacement body parts, and 24×7 access to a person’s complete medical history (along with the suggestion that personal health privacy might be very diminished in this future world).

Creating the Future of Consumer Health Care

Across the street from the AARP event was the Connected Health Summit, a high level seminar that gathered health care and technology companies in the same room to discuss the ongoing transformation of health care into a more connected, consumer responsive industry.

Take a look at these technology companies, and how they are moving towards the vision outlined in Michio Kaku’s AARP talk:

Doctor on Demand: a video conference platform that connects consumers with trained physicians, day or night. Cost is a flat $40 per consultation, as of September 2014. Many ER visits can actually be handled through a video consultation – think about the time savings alone, not to mention the reduced aggravation and cost.

Independa: a set of technologies that allows older adults to stay in their home, instead of moving to a much more expensive assisted living facility. Independa struck an agreement with LG Electronics to add its software to LG’s flat screen TVs – a logical move, since people of all ages know how to use a TV remote control to navigate through a list of services on a screen.

WellFrame: one of the largest gaps in our current health care system is the transition from the hospital (such as after surgery), and back into the home environment. Complicated after-surgery instructions, medication lists, and lack of daily contact between patient and health care staff can lead to negative outcomes, especially for cardiac procedures. WellFrame aims to solve this problem with an easy mobile app that consumers can download onto their smartphone, allowing them to keep in touch 24×7 with their health care team during recovery at home.

Another interesting note from the Connected Health Summit was the participation of established retail brands such as Walgreens and Lowes. It could be that Lowes and Home Depot will be among trusted sources for in-home personal health monitoring systems in the future, much like home security systems are purchased today!

See also: Computerized Cognitive Testing Tools