Digital health care: what´s next?

There are already more new digital solutions, and startups, and changes, to care about if you are interested the health care industry than there are days left in your life. But this particular solution I suggest you to care about a bit more than others. And it is simply because it is very low-tech. Here is why, and how, you should care.

You have seen pictures of services like this before? Perhaps it was an add somewhere. Even tried it yourself? ­­We find them in a lot of countries on the globe nowadays.

But take a closer look, what do you actually see?

On one hand it´s just a picture of a doctor with a stethoscope and a new kind of service: book a meeting, some minutes later, met a doctor, with the help of a simple digital connection, like Skype, chat for a minute, get a receipt – maybe you just had a flue. It´s not rocket science to create services like this.

But, did you notice:

  1. This service represents a typical starting point for disruption?
  2. Do doctors still really use stethoscopes nowadays?

The stethoscope is actually a very old invention, 200 years. It´s been cooking for long substituting it with a more modern solution, and in real life doctors already have better, digital, solutions for it.

Let me come back to this shortly but first, let´s head even further back in time, because I think, if we do, we can find an answer to all these questions – not the least; we can figure out how to cope with them.

Actually, let´s go back even 400 more years. To this man: Christopher Columbus. The man known for having “discovered America”. The first European to travel left, instead of right, so to speak.

I guess you already know: Columbus was heading for the Indies, but ended up in the Bahamas. But did you know what then happened? Well, they set sail again and thought they landed in China, but it wasn’t: it was actually Cuba. And then, they sat sail ones again and thought they found Japan – nope, it was actually Haiti.

How could Columbus do all these navigation mistakes? Like us; he was well-educated. He also had prepared for his journey a lot. He had studied: Navigation, Astronomy, History, Geology. But still, these mistakes.

Well, Columbus big problem was that he used the wrong kind of map, this one. We all know what might happen if we use the wrong kind of map? We interpret what we actually step on with our own feet in a totally wrong way.

So, what Columbus actually should have had, but didn’t have, was a new, updated map, of the globe. Today, now when we all have this “updated map” we all already know this. But Columbus needed to know it, back then.

It doesn’t help that much knowing that we will have a better map in the future. We need a map of the future right now. And considering the digital times, we live in today: We desperately need it right now. And this picture of the future is actually possible to develop.

-> A book on how Christopher Columbus can help us figure out the digital future.

How can I know that? Well, I can, simply because what is happening today, has happened before. People before us have already described what happen when new technical solutions evolve.

There are lot of theories I would like to go through here, if we had time, but we don´t. I will only show you one theory, which in some sense boil down all the other theories into one single model. Well, actually it is a story. It is a story about rabbits, and Australia, and arrows.

Ones upon a time the rabbit arrived to Australia and shook up the whole eco-system. Just like in industry of today: it became a bit of a chaotic situation. It then took some time, but finally things settled down again. But when it did: a new balance between all the species that was living in Australia was to be found.

It is exactly the same when digitalization, the rabbit in our story, enters an industry, like for instance Health Care. First it messes up. Then, when the new balance between all actors involved have evolved, things start to settle down. Well, in the case of the Health Care industry we are not there, yet, but we will, sometime in the future. And as long as we don´t. It is going to be messy times.

-> A digital course on how to apply the “Rabbit-In-Australia-model” on future

During this road ahead there are patterns on how things tend to evolve, let´s call them theories.

What these theories tell is that new innovations always start off in the corner of the existing business – at places most actors do not care that much about. It is also most often done with what could be called a “bad technology”. Still; some people take it on, simply because it, to them, solves a problem. To them it is “good enough”. Then, later on, if the new solution starts to take off, this solution becomes better, not the least with the help of the continuous ongoing digital development and scale economy. Finally, if enough customers care, this solution starts to out-perform the old solution, and the old solution gets in trouble. During that process the whole industrial landscape starts to change shape. Finally, if this process is played all the way out: this industry has disrupted.

Remember Amazon in its early days, see pict? How good where they actually? Not good. But today, they are. Today they are dominating actors in their  industry. We have a new industrial structure.

The interesting thing with this simple health-care app, is not only that it is low-tech, it is that people use it. It is a fast and good enough solution for people in need of a simple visit to a doctor, like getting a receipt for a flue. It´s growing, heavily.

But what is more interesting with it, is what they can do with it, and what they actually already do, ones they have all these customers hooked up.

One thing they already do is this: if the doctor that meets you do not really know how to solve your problem that doctor can hook up with another doctor that is also digitally connected ­– when it is not cancer or something really serious and they suggest you to go to a physical doctor instead. Then that doctor can get a good “second opinion”, for instance from a global expert in this particular field.

How would a normal physical health-care center achieve that? Well, the point is that they cannot really achieve it.

And then, we already can see how this solution is gradually evolving into something far more technologically advanced than just being a simple Skype-connection.

-> YouTube: How to understand digital health care

Secondly: this app has the customer contact, so what do you think would happen if it starts also a physical health care center, where you can go physically, if needed? Will it get customers? Well, you tell me, but at least in my country, Sweden, where this service exists, they already have, and they already seem to have got thousands of people signing up. Some even claim that their physical centers already today, have the biggest number of customers enrolled among all other physical health-care-centers that exist in my country. And this service is actually only 6 years old.

Then, why does the doctor on this picture have a stethoscope? My guess; it is simply because it is the manifest of a trustworthy doctor, according most average people on the globe.

Well, should we trust them? Up to you. But at least I trust them to know what they are actually up to. I would not be surprised if they finally will manage to totally disrupt the health care industry, in a similar way that actors like Amazon ones upon a time seriously managed to totally change their industry.

And this is the reason why, and how, I suggest us to care.

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