Technology has impacted people and business sectors during various periods in time, and healthcare is not an exception.
To learn what was going on with a loved one who lived far away, one would have to write a letter. Take that letter to town. That letter then would begins its travel via railroad or horse. When the telegraph first hit the US, people would have to travel to town to get their messages. As time and technology continued to improve, the telegraph was replaced by phones. Then as the infrastructure was built, more and more people had phones in their homes. Pay phones when you traveled or an emergency. Then cell phones.
Technology moved communication from years, months, days to literally instantaneous connection. As it first began, it was big, bulky, expensive, and scary. It had to be kept in a general location for a majority of people to have access. As it improved, the technology decreased in size, cost, and aptitude to operate. It began to blur into the background of everyday life. It became common. Affordable. Simple to use.
The healthcare version…..
There used to be a time in which a community had only one person trained in medicine to care for the sick. The healthcare professional (HCP) typically would travel to the person that needed care. The HCP would know that person, their family, and all of their friends. They were trained in general medicine, how to care, and brought the care to the patient. The majority of the equipment that was needed they could carry in their bags.
Then a technology boom hit healthcare.
The industrialization of medicine. Anesthesia was no longer as simple as using coca leaves, cocaine, an opioid, or ether. There became the use of large pieces of equipment to monitor the administration of the anesthetic and sedation as well as the vitals of the patient.
Or the movement from needing to cut the body open in order to see inside, to using a machine to produce X-rays to allow healthcare professionals (HCP) to take pictures of the internal organs.
As the advances in medicine, healthcare, and technology occur, the equipment and devices are big, bulky, expensive, and need a lot of training to be used appropriately. Physicians need specialized training and technologists and other staff members need to be trained in using the equipment too. In order for HCP’s to use the technology, it needs to be housed someplace.
So where do we put all of this stuff?
How about a nice big box in the center of our community?
We can call it a HOSPITAL. (origin comes from latin meaning a hospice or guest house)
Simply they kind of look like the below picture:
There are many reasons for the need of hospitals, but simplistically, communities that wanted access to the latest and greatest medicine needed to have a box to put it all in, the funds to do it, and the people to use it appropriately.
It is far easier for a community to recruit highly specialized and trained HCP’s if they can offer access to the latest and greatest technology. To do, the community needs to have the dollars to invest in technology. It made sense to have a single box to house all of the equipment. The “box” become a gathering for all of the HCP’s to convene, talk, commune, and care for the people within the community. Those that needed care can now just go to one place to receive that treatment. Everything is housed there. It made sense.
A new model was born.
Fast forward to today.
Today technology continues to get smaller, cheaper, easier to use, and is highly accessible. The knowledge gap between those that care for us and those that seek care continues to decrease. Significantly.
We used to have to go to the hospital to have blood drawn, vitals taken, tests performed, and wait several days to find out if someone was pregnant or not.
Not today. Today one can go to the gas station, get a $3 test, go to the bathroom, wait 2 minutes, and get your answer of yes or no. Once you know, it is going to the HCP’s office to consult with them on next steps, a plan, and continued education.
There was an article published in extreme tech in which a person in Canada built their own CT Scanner. (original article here) Granted, it is probably more equivalent to SPECT-CT, but nonetheless, an imaging device for your home?
You can purchase blood pressure cuffs for home. We have scales.
You can purchase an in home ultrasound unit.
Symcat can generate a diagnosis and list of prioritized ailments. (Symcat article here)
Hospitals may continue to exist. Perhaps not as we know them today.
Yet, the story I care about is the one in which a new model emerges.
A wellness and procedural model that blows up the current business of big box hospitals.
A model that focuses on the life span of people and provides the necessary tools, education, and collaboration to provide wellness and care into the fabric of everyday life in the community.
That wellness and procedures become so transparent that it blurs into the background. It becomes simplistic, easy, as natural as taking a shower, brushing our teeth, going to the refrigerator and grabbing something to eat or drink, going to work, socializing with friends.
In my opinion, this is where technology is taking us. Back to a time in which our care is done in our homes. It is done in an affordable manner. It is easy to access and provides the value that I seek in the time and space in which I need/want it.
What community will be bold enough to continue writing this story?
I have a feeling I may be moving to Cupertino.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek
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