Who knew how much healthcare would be at the forefront of our daily news cycle for 2020? Since the end of February, the world has had a leaderboard on COVID-19 cases and mortalities. It was this all-consuming topic, that kicked off the Deloitte (@deloitteus) Future of Health four-part discussion with industry experts and members of the StartUp Health team. What started as an opportunity to chat about the latest and greatest in tech and healthcare, soon evolved into poignant discussion of three main areas: Accessibility, personalization and prevention.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines accessibility in three ways – physical, economic and information. Through our discussion, we organically touched on all of them. As the pandemic has expedited usage of health tech, we had a large discussion on the convenience of remote patient care especially with patients outside of urban centres. While physical accessibility is one thing, and as Jennifer Jolly, an Emmy winning, nationally syndicated journalist and commentator for NY Times pointed out affordability is another thing.
It’s great that technology is being developed – but if people cannot afford it, what’s the point? A product like TytoCare, which can offer 24/7 medical diagnostic exams can run the cost of $300-1K plus subscription fees. This begs the question, will the people who actually need it be able to access it? Anna De Souza, a digital and broadcast reporter for Yahoo! and Today.com shared her real-life experience with information accessibility. Anna’s health provider in Jefferson, PA uses a fully accessible online platform to provide Anna with her lab results and tests. Accessing information in a timely, convenient manner is important – especially since the birth of her twin daughters.
As everyone’s needs are different and while we can tailor our clothing – why can’t we tailor our healthcare needs? The future of health ensures this personalization in healthcare. This is more than Peloton. Health Tech CES event producer, Robin Raskin introduced the panel to YogiFi from Wellnesys, a ‘smart’ exercise mat developed with sensors able to offer feedback on posture, flexibility and strength. Like a real yoga class, an online teacher helps guides you through the postures. It has the ability to be connected through to iPhones or Android phones and assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The perfect antidote for maintaining social distancing and your muscle tone during these COVID times. I shared my experience with Paragon, daily supplements delivered straight to your door. After sending in a lock of my hair – it was analyzed and I was sent a report on my nutrient deficiencies. A few weeks later, my packaged supplements arrived in the mail. Within our conversation of personalization, we touched on the importance of data privacy, which can be a 4-part session on its own! There is a fine balance between providing information to inform practices and products and when it can impede on rights and cultural norms.
Lastly, the topic of prevention was discussed as a measure for keeping well at home. Robin Plotnik of @whatrobineats, a certified nutritionist and personal trainer chatted about how she sees food as medicine. Expecting her second child this October, Robin shared her journey how she has used her platform to talk more than just healthy eating but how to establish a balanced lifestyle. We all acknowledged that there was a huge disconnect between our current healthcare system being reactive and treating symptoms rather than putting the emphasis on preventing disease and aliments. While some companies put programs in place to optimize their employees to increase productivity, US insurance companies also must see some incentive as well. This massive shift of culture in healthcare could really transform the future of health. While it would benefit the public, it may not put money in the pockets of companies that thrive on a chronic disease and dysfunction.
2020 has shined a light on the importance of healthcare, in all its glory and its gaps. As fall approaches, and the pandemic continues to challenge our health system, its positive that there are companies like Deloitte and StartUp Health that are looking ahead to the future of health. Be it accessibility, personalization and prevention – which are not brand new themes. But perhaps given the current healthcare circumstance we (as a society) are willing to look at these issues with a fervour to make the necessary changes happen.