The Digital Diagnosis

The Digital DiagnosisAs shown in the infographic below, digital devices with access to the Internet are redefining healthcare and driving a revolution in its delivery systems.

FIRST is the wealth of medical information available online and the tools to find and make sense of it. This helps medical professionals and patients alike, and consumers can now take more responsibility for their own wellness. Realizing they have a greater stake in the game than their physician, they’re regularly engaging in online conversations using social media or searching online websites like WebMD, PatientsLikeMe and mHealthTalk for healthcare information.

NEXT is mobility, with smartphones, tablet computers, and wearable devices used for fitness tracking or continuously monitoring medical sensor data. This is expanding access to healthcare from “anytime, anywhere” to “all the time, everywhere,” and it adds context to the collected medical data. “Your glucose just dropped. What were you just doing or eating?” for example.

AND THEN there’s the Big Data analytics made possible by supercomputers like IBM’s Watson, which is now being applied to medical diagnostics since it understands nuances of the English language, can read and analyze the equivalent of 300 million books in less than 3 seconds, and the artificial intelligence ability to learn. With access to published medical journals, a patient’s medical record, real-time sensor data, geonomic information, and eventually phenotype info; Watson will help usher in an era of personalized medicine, where the care plan, prescriptions, and recommended usage are customized to each individual.

The Digital Diagnosis [Infographic]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

HIGHLIGHTS (for use by screen readers and search engines):

The medical industry and the world of personal tech are rapidly converging. With medical knowledge doubling roughly every five years and technology evolving at lightning-quick speed, patients and physicians are increasingly using mobile devices and the Internet as healthcare tools. Patients are taking matters into their own hands (literally), physicians are utilizing smart tech to make their practices more efficient, and healthcare marketers are figuring out the best ways to reach them.

  • 72% of adult Internet users searched online for health information last year.
  • 1-in-3 went online to research a medical condition.
  • 8-in-10 health inquiries start with a search engine, and women are more likely to search than men. According to PEW Internet, here’s what they search for:
    • 55% specific diseases or medical conditions
    • 43% medical treatments or procedures
    • 27% ways to lose or control weight
    • 25% health insurance
    • 15% medical test results
    • 11% ways to reduce healthcare costs
  • A growing community of patients are banding together to form communities on social media sites like Facebook and PatientsLikeMe to share experiences and research findings.
    • 65% of patients are trusting their own online health findings.
    • 40% have posted comments or stories of personal health experiences.
    • 30% have consulted online reviews or rankings of healthcare services.
    • 26% have read or watched someone else’s health or medical experience.
    • 19% posted specific health questions.
    • 16% sent online specifically to find others sharing similar health concerns.
  • Doctors are also going online, spending 9-15 hours/week looking for medical information.
    • Most (87%) use smartphones or tablets, and many are actually prescribing more apps than medications.
    • With the help of apps and add-on devices, a smartphone can now be used to:
    • Take pulses;
    • Measure blood pressure;
    • Track glucose levels;
    • Perform EKGs;
    • Complete blood, urine and sweat tests; and
    • Diagnose ear infections.
  • When describing the potential benefits of supercomputers in healthcare, the infographic predicts $305 billion in productivity gains over the next 10 years and $197 in cost savings over the next 25 years. These estimates, in my opinion, are way too small and seem to be just pulled out of a hat. Much bigger benefits would come from more aggressive health reforms that I think would save over $1 TRILLION per year (every single year, not spread over 10-25 years). That includes moving toward pubic and universal healthcare like in other industrialized nations, and it recognizes that we currently spend $2.7 trillion per year on healthcare, which is twice as much as other OECD nations, but we live sicker and die younger (per World Health Organization).

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