NOVI — Technology is about to shake healthcare down to its very foundations, according to the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s Inno-Vention 2014 conference, sponsored by Oakland County’s Medical Main Street life sciences economic development initiative.
But quality patient care remains the ultimate goal, according to Krischa Winright, chief information officer at the Grand Rapids-based health insurer Priority Health.
Winright told a crowd of several hundred that her goal for high tech in health care can be summed up as: “Technology makes everything fade to the background so you can focus on the human experiences on top of it.”
Among the trends she sees emerging are:
* Cost transparency tools that will give potential patients the exact cost of various medical procedures, the way air travel websites do today. She said too many medical cost websites today only give cost ranges. Imagine if the airlines worked that way, she said: “Your trip will cost between $500 and $1,000. Sign me up!”
* More and more healthcare delivered by mobile devices. She said today’s young adults will demand it, since most of them use smartphones for everything from social media contact with friends to shopping. She said most of today’s 20-somethings spend more time with social media in a day than they will talking to doctors in their entire lifetimes.
* Telehealth and e-visits. Winright said a colleague lost a day of work (or vacation, depending on how you look at it) picking up her daughter at college and driving that daughter to a specialist in Lansing to look into a skin condition — because the doctor said simply sending a photo of the skin condition wasn’t sufficient. Making matters worse, it turned out the trip was a waste of time, because the daughter wound up having to see a different doctor in a different setting. Many medical problems can be handled remotely with advanced smartphones and imaging technology — which leads us to the next trend.
* Wearable devices. The market for wearable technology is exploding, Winright said — “chances are this Christmas you will either give or receive a wearable computing device.” They’ll monitor a wide variety of health conditions and, if you choose, share it on the web with your healthcare professionals.
* The internet of everything. By 2025, Winright said, 500 pieces of electronics in the typical home will be wired to the internet. That could include everything from the bathroom scale to a blood pressure cuff that could be used to monitor health.
Obviously, in that future, Winright said e-health security is paramount.
And it requires radically new ways of working in healthcare as well — a much more team-based, collaborative approach, which affects everything from hiring to work spaces.
“We’re seeing radically new ways of working that broke down the silos that we had before,” Winright said. “You cannot put people in cubes, you cannot particularly put technology people in cubes, and expect a creative environment.”
Inno-Vention also featured a health care industry matchmaking session to boost business and a “shark tank” style competition for life sciences startups.
Priority Health is a subsidiary of Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health, a health care nonprofit that operates 10 hospitals in West Michigan. Priority Health has about 600,000 insured members.