Embracing Medical Technology

Recently I read Joseph Kvedar’s book, The Internet of Healthy Things, in which he writes about the “seismic” change in medicine. He paints a vivid picture with multiple examples and studies with the profound affect that is presently occurring in healthcare.

Why have we been so slow to embrace medical technology?  Technology can improve our lives, health, promote convenience and even save money and time. Medicine is only now beginning to take a lesson from other industries, such as retail, travel, and entertainment that use cookies to learn about our habits and preferences.

The delay with the medical field lies with doctors as well as the consumers. Physicians are slow to change habits and only often react when forced through insurance providers, government and hospital regulations. This change has been long overdue: the system is too expensive with one out of every five dollars spent by the government for healthcare totaling $3 trillion (one trillion is wasted!).  The recent explosion in cost is primarily due to The Affordable Care Act and the expansion of programs. You can see the early affect with the physician and the mandatory use of computers (or incurring penalties) with these programs: every visit the doctor is looking at his computer, not you, the patient!

The consumer has embraced health sensors and fitness monitors, but has been reluctant to accept medical technology.

The vehicle for facilitating technology is here: two-thirds of U.S. population use smartphones.The average user of a smart phone looks at the screen 150 times per day and may download a medical application, but rarely uses it after the initial week.

But now, with insurance premiums and deductibles skyrocketing into the thousands of dollars, the consumer has begun accepting medical technology and questioning whether every test ordered is necessary.

A primary example is in my field of dermatology.

The average biopsy and pathology report cost between $250 and $500 with a surgical excision easily over $1000.
Monitoring a mole with smart phone images that can be compared side-by-side or overlaid to detect early changes, not only spares the expense of the procedure, but avoids an unnecessary scar.

Additionally, incorporating the application into one’s lifestyle, as with cosmeceutical skincare, encourages the user to embrace the technology in a fun way: comparing sequential images for change allows the user to determine whether the product is delivering the results promised. Before and after pictures provide immediate feedback to see whether the products meet your expectations.

In the future, your images could be uploaded, analyzed and provide results using artificial intelligence. Reminders, which are currently available on the app, provides messages to check your moles and schedule a visit with your doctor. The combination of predictive analytics with genomics will make personalization possible and revolutionize health care soon.

Embracing medical technology may be intimidating at first, but the convenience, improved care and cost savings will be beneficial to all.

CompariSkin with innovative technology, allows you to begin today to embrace medical technology and be empowered for better health.

Gary Lichten, M.D.



Posted in Blog.