Healthcare is the second largest industry in the world after defense. There are many people involved in the Healthcare Chain.
- Doctors / Nurses / Support personnel
- Drug makers (Pharma companies)
- Distributors and Wholesalers
- Insurance companies
All these participants above need to work like an automobile – the accelerator and the clutch are related, the carburettor and the ignition are related, the brakes work with the tyres and so on. An automobile (Patient) works most of the time, except it breaks down at times. And you need a mechanic (Doctor) to give you say oil (Chemists) which may be sold through middlemen (Distributors and Wholesalers) and manufactured by a company (Pharma companies). Sometimes the car may have to be taken to a specialized place like a showroom, for the lack of a better word (Hospital) where the treatment will be administered by mechanics (Doctors). To get treatment you may need an insurance (in some countries) or you may pay by cash / bank / credit cards etc.
Now the role of technology – The entire ecosystem can be addressed by a ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software like say SAP (I have not used this product) To each of the above participants you may have an ERP and the software used by each of these providers may talk to each other. (integration). These systems are not standalone. They need to talk with other systems.
Let’s discuss about doctors and patients – In many countries (developed) an EMR (Electronic Medical Record) is compulsory. This is a history of the patient’s ailments and the treatment rendered to him/her. This really helps a doctor because electronic records are safer and reliable than paper prescriptions. The developing worlds like India are still to catch this trend. In the US, there are 3-4 doctors per 1000 people. In Europe, it’s more. In developing/under developed countries I do not know the ratio, but it is less. (pathetically less). We need to empower the doctors and the patients.
How do we do that? The patients always need to be monitored (real time) with say fitbits, mobile cameras etc. (that means sensors) and that leads us to big data – because a lot of these information is coming from what is called as the Internet of Things (IoT) Currently only text and voice is being actively captured. The doctors need to periodically monitor this information, in fact an AI system will be able to assist doctors. The patient data is safe (private cloud) and only the patient and the doctor can access it (encryption) Doctors front end will be an AI system which scans and tries to arrive at a solution, but the doctor may be consulted, if it can’t figure out a remedy. Predictive Analytics can show the propensity of diseases that are likely to happen.
The doctor now becomes an expert / co-worker with the technology (robot, if I may use the word) and the patient data should be personalized. Soon, pharma companies will cater medicines specific to a patient’s genome. There is a lot of work to be done in this area. (we are just at the tip of the iceberg as far as genomics is concerned) Mainstream ERP companies will work closely with platform companies for example Hadoop companies (for Big data backend), Analytics companies (for visualization and predictions) and finally integration companies (which will make it a sticky stack).
The US healthcare industry is more than 3 trillion dollars. So, you can imagine how much money is spent globally. The whole chain is very complex. The number of doctors/ hospitals must go up. Technology may fill some gaps. And by 2020, we may be able to see some personalized medicines.
My request to all
- Let developed countries help the developing and under developed countries with technology
- Insurance does not have to be mandatory to get treatment
- Technology is not a replacement for doctors. They are complementary. Hence, they will be assistants. A good doctor will never be replaced by technology
- All people in the world deserve a good health. Let’s all work towards this vision.
- Free for one – free for all. (because brothers/sisters of the world unite)
Have written this piece in a hurry. More to follow.
God Bless !