top of page
  • Writer's pictureStephen Randall

The Patient Is Still Waiting.

How close is Dr. Eric Topol’s digital healthcare revolution?




I’ve been re-reading Dr. Eric Topol’s first book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, first published over a decade ago. In that book, Dr. Topol predicted that “Homo Digitus” will drive the disruption of healthcare, powered by ubiquitous mobile and digital tools embedded in our daily lives. Not only do I fully subscribe to his vision, but I am also actively involved in developing pieces of it.


Predicting WHAT the future will be is sometimes easier than predicting WHEN it will be. Banking, shopping, entertainment and many other industries have been disrupted and are benefiting from the transformation from “atoms to bits.”  However, even if healthcare’s digital evolution (if not disruption) is happening, why are we still struggling with healthcare access, poor outcomes, shorter lifespans, and increasing healthcare costs?


The adoption of innovations typically follows a "10/10" rule of thumb - taking about a decade to develop and another to become widespread. This was true for the Internet, which originated in the 1970s but didn't profoundly impact daily life until the late 1980s, and for smartphones, which, following the introduction of the iPhone, redefined global connectivity by the late 2000s.


There are also plenty of examples that defy the 10/10 rule. Technologies that benefit from network effects often scale more rapidly than those that do not. Social media platforms like Facebook grew to hundreds of millions of users in less than a decade, propelled by the exponential nature of user growth where the value of the service increases as more people join the network.

 

Dr. Topol predicted that “Homo Digitus” will drive the disruption of healthcare, powered by ubiquitous mobile and digital tools embedded in our daily lives.

 

Healthcare innovation can and is benefiting from digital infrastructure, inexpensive devices and cloud computing. But it also has to navigate numerous other challenges, (which to be fair, Dr Topal also warned us about) including misaligned billing structures and systemic inertia that hinder the adoption of more effective, cost-efficient solutions.


I often come back to George Bernard Shaw words, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”


Homo Digitus is and has to be unreasonable. But for every Homo Digitus, we need to be mindful of Homo Status and other stakeholders who often don’t have the bandwidth or budget to support new architectures, standards, workflows and systems. We need to recognize the influence and contribution of all stakeholders to understand why technology alone will not disrupt healthcare and why we’re not there yet.


References and further reading:

"The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care" by Dr. Eric Topol

0 comments

Comentarios


Los comentarios se han desactivado.
bottom of page