Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Digital Takeover of America’s Health Care System

6/23/2013 – Kameron Gifford, CPC

Eric Schmidt of Google recently pointed out that from the dawn of civilization to 2003 there were a total of 5 exabytes or 1 billion gigabytes of data total. Today, we are producing a minimum of 5 exabytes every 2 days. That is incredible. This powerful explosion into “Big Data” was made possible by advancements in technology such as the smart phone, cloud servers and remarkable biosensors. Consumers have harnessed this technology to drive revolutions in every industry outside of healthcare. The internet allowed a frontier for the convergence of influence and technology capable of altering an entire culture. Could the internet be the one technology that has fundamentally changed the clinical practice of medicine more than any other advancement? Will a new generation of tech savy consumers finally force a transition from population based health into a new era of individualized medicine? Will the next generation of patient-centered care focus on what is best for the individual patient and not big business?
Consider these statistics from 2011:

  •   42% of Internet users went online to find health information for self-diagnosis or treatment.
  •  38% of users ages 65 and older went online for medical research.
  • 48% of Internet users with an annual income over 100,000 used the internet to research information on health plans or practitioners.
  • 37% of internet users between the ages 25 and 44 and 35% of users between the ages of 45 and 64 also went online to find information on health plans and physicians.
Powerful indications that the internet does have the ability to engage users and improve overall healthcare outcomes. An open space filled with collective tools that lay the groundwork for a new era of medicine. This is the end of generalized, population based approaches to care. The future will be dominated by those with a vision of something better. This new journey will be empowered by the digitalization of human beings.  Influenced and controlled by those who understand innovation. The convergence of this technology to decode and define individual granularity at the molecular level, from womb to tomb, will enhance the experience for all stake holders.
In 2010, Dr. Richard Ablin, the pathologist who discovered the PSA in 1970, wrote an Op-Ed that was published in the New York Times entitled, “The Great Prostate Mistake”. Dr. Ablin wrote, “The tests popularity has led to a hugely expensive public disaster. The medical community must confront reality and stop the inappropriate use of PSA screening. Doing so would save billions of dollars and rescue millions of men from unnecessary, debilitating treatments.”
In “The Creative Destruction of Medicine” Dr. Eric Topol introduces us to his friend who is 1 of 250,000 men in America every year who are subjected to serial prostate biopsies subsequent to a false positive PSA test. This mass screening of 30 million men every year costs the United States $3 billion annually and that doesn’t include the cumulative costs of all the biopsies, surgeries, treatments and the complications of the surgery such as urinary incontinence or impotence. Is this the best that we can do?
A mediocre healthcare system that wastes billions and is incapable of meaningful engaement. A system in which we allow pharmaceutical companies to spend $14 billion a year to influence the 600,000 people who can write a prescription.  A system in which we have enabled corporations to dictate treatment plans of friends and family members.
Science and technology have provided consumers with the crucial tools for disruption. The hostile takeover of our health care system is as inevitable as it is necessary. We must embrace this unique opportune, moment in medicine, a once in a lifetime Kairos.

***the entire report from the US Dept. of Commerce can be downloaded here:  Exploring the Digital Nation: America's Emerging Online Experience - See more at:

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