Healthcare Technology – when data is king

Yesterday I spent the morning at a  event hosted by Chorley Council.  It was a really interesting event with a combination of speakers from those responsible for digital healthcare, to clinicians using leading edge technology to suppliers developing the technology.

I’d broadly draw the event into 5 areas of technology use:

  1. Enabling medical devices to gather data remotely – both those used by patients and those used by healthcare professionals.
  2. The use of 3D printing for training and for pre-op modelling of complex surgery such as the donation of adult organs to children (as often happens with parents donating to their children).
  3. The use of 3D printing for orthotics.
  4. The use of robots for complex surgery.
  5. Remote support for chronic and palliative care to link care homes and patients homes to care-hubs and avoid hospital visits.

My key takeaway was that today’s data volumes will be dwarfed by the data produced in future.  The flow of data will include data from our own devices (health trackers etc.) and medical devices.  What was clear from the one speaker was that the designers of these new devices see new revenue streams from the data – “the device is subsidised”.  With that approach the data, analytics and visualisation of that data is where the value will be and it leaves me pondering whether healthcare providers will be able to afford to buy and analyse the data.  One great example was a digital inhaler where asthma sufferers can record their usage, dosage and their effectiveness in using the device.  These switched on folks have realised that parents will be very concerned whether their children are following their prescription plan effectively when the child is at school.  Parents are going to be another revenue stream for the device manufacturers as they will no-doubt subscribe to an app for a small fee each month to see whether their beloved is managing their condition.  The second example was elder care where devices in the home can inform relatives that an elderly relative is active or not.  Its going to be interesting to see this new financial model develop between healthcare, social care and individuals.

A nice aside:  after arriving we were kindly directed to tea and coffee being served.  The lady serving was busy and a gentleman was stood talking to her asking how she was and having a catch up.  Seeing me the gentleman asked what I wanted and served me tea.  Later the same gentleman appeared on a panel – Gary Hall the Chief Executive of the Council.  It was really nice to see an executive who was very connected to his team at all levels and willing to roll their sleeves up and help serve tea when needed.

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