We often discuss how technology is changing the face of health care. It seems like as soon as an article is posted, there are new developments that push the envelope even further. This is sure to continue as we are witnessing a full-scale convergence between the technology and health care sectors. In some cases, changes aren’t the result of technology at all, but human innovation.
The Health Care Industry is Attractive to Corporations
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook recently declared that the company’s biggest contribution to humanity will be in the health care arena. Impressive words from a corporate giant best known for the iPhone and MacBook, but he’s got a point: the company’s Apple Watch, which can track your pulse, call for help if you fall and assist you in getting into shape, has been a big hit. Apple is currently working on health care applications for its iPhones, as well, and is attempting to connect to an increasing number of hospital medical records systems. Cook and others are keenly aware that health care represents 18 percent of the U.S. economy and would like to cash in on all that potential revenue.
Health care startup companies are amassing venture capital cash at a stunning rate – over $20 billion last year alone, further evidence of the attractiveness of investments in health care and technology. Money isn’t the only driving factor; discontentment with the current state of affairs is persuading others to advocate for change. Rising health care costs and an increasing patient burden leave many fearing health care will be even more unaffordable in the future. The issue has even become politically charged as evidenced by the Medicare for All movement, which advocates for guaranteed health coverage for every American. This all makes the industry ready for disruption – and corporations are ready to do just that.
Sometimes, it’s individuals who are boldly going where no others have gone before. Whether focusing on new treatments for diseases or attempting to make health care more affordable, these people are focused on the big picture. A few notable names include Jennifer Doudna, a UC Berkeley professor who helped invent the gene-editing tool Crispr; Rushika Fernandopulle, the CEO of Iora Health, who is pioneering a health care model that eschews medical insurance for a monthly payment plan (around $40-$50) paid by patients directly; and Steve Pearson, founder of the nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a group dedicated to analyzing pharmaceutical costs and determining appropriate price points for each drug. These and other innovators are playing just as big a role in changing the face of health care as technology.