Of every major industry making up the global economy, none has been more reluctant to tech-induced change than healthcare. And while it would be mistaken to say it hasn’t changed at all, anyone can see it’s dramatically lagging behind.
Particularly when compared to the striking transformations we’ve seen in others – like finance, retail, and transportation – over the past decade-and-a-half.
Especial circumstances, like understandably heavy regulation and dependence on expert labor, are key ingredients for this relative stagnation. However, it’d seem that we are finally reaching a critical tipping point in this drawn-out “tug-of-war” between the healthcare industry and tech.
For comparison, it took about 40 years for electricity, automobiles, and the telephone to transform the global industry paradigm. It only took the Internet 10 to do the same.
And now, it seems that not even the traditionally resilient healthcare industry is impervious to the positively disruptive effects of groundbreaking tech.
Let’s explore why.
The Recipe of an Industry Primed for Disruption
Technology has had a major role in most big-picture industry disruptions that have taken place over the past two decades. However, one could argue that the aforementioned inventions are merely catalysts that hatched from an industry already primed for disruption.
Take the meteoric rise of the EpiPen as an example. Even though initially developed for military use, it didn’t take long before its creator adapted the tech for civilian use. This auto-injector transformed anaphylaxis treatment forever, seemingly overnight, because it was simply so much better than previous forms of treatment – which were more inconvenient and unreliable.
In this sense, the EpiPen was responding to a couple of the symptoms of an industry primed for disruption.
- Lack of trust in the current paradigm.
- Unused tech innovation.
- Lack of affordability of the existing products or services.
- Inconvenient access or lack of availability.
Let’s talk a bit about how these characteristics can already be felt in most areas of the healthcare industry.
Lack of trust in the current paradigm
Never before have consumers been so informed and aware of the implications of their decision-making process as they are now. And the healthcare industry is not exempt from that fact.
No longer is a single doctor’s assessment gospel in patients’ eyes. Not when everyone carries a digital healthcare reference book in their pockets, and are painfully aware of the workings of a system geared to maximize profits at the expense of consumer needs.
So, it isn’t really surprising to see the public’s trust in healthcare professionals waning.
New tech innovation remains unused
This characteristic directly describes the healthcare industry’s lack of nimbleness and adaptability to incorporate new technology due to regulatory constraints.
While in other industries might be easy to implement every incrementally better piece of technology – even on a trial basis – healthcare lacks such leeway.
Current products or services aren’t affordable for the general public
Healthcare in the U.S. is about twice as expensive as it is in any other developed country. The $3 trillion that goes into the sector would qualify as the world’s fifth-biggest economy. This is a cost that places a huge financial burden for every household between higher premiums, lost wages, taxes, and additional out-of-pocket expenses.
And even with all this money being spent on healthcare, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th in healthcare systems, and The Commonwealth Fund placed the U.S. last among the top 11 industrialized countries in overall healthcare.
Inconvenience is at an all-time high
As Steve Jobs once said, “You have to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.” Convenience holds sway over most consumer’s buying decisions. Since the healthcare has enjoyed such a slow pace of adoption – tech-wise – it’s relatively easy for the industry to digress into inconvenient processes for the sake of familiarity.
All these things create the perfect recipe for disruption – especially the big bang kind.
The Power of “Big Bang” Disruption
“Big Bang disruption” is a moniker being given to any new type of innovation that dramatically shakes the status-quo by accomplishing a couple of conditions. Instead of subtly disrupting a market as an inferior product or more expensive than already established ones, Big Bang disruptors are both cheaper and better from the get-go.
Innovations like these are hardly rare nowadays, and are putting major players in several industries out of business.
Just to give you an idea of the scope of this phenomenon, consider that in just two decades, over half of the Fortune 500 companies have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or disappeared as a consequence of their organizations’ decision cycles lagging behind technology cycles.
Two decades that have been marked by nothing more noticeably than the rapid appearance, adoption, and enhancement of subversive technology.
This new paradigm creates the ideal conditions for novel tech to deliver new layers of function and consistency, which is all but forcing change into the healthcare industry – Prompting businesses to rethink their strategy and innovate, or resist and perish.
Right now, the healthcare industry seems to be going through a period of rapid escalation. Entrepreneurs and inventions – often from an outside industry – are applying pressure to traditional models by providing consumers new, better, cheaper, and more convenient offers than are currently available.
And while many of these new products or services fall short, many others promise a huge step forward in terms of accessibility and wellbeing. These are signals of huge changes that come when the right new product combines with the right business model and regulatory conditions.
3 Ways in Which New Tech Can Disrupt Healthcare
Before moving into specific examples, it pays to understand that, much as it happens in other niches, tech is disrupting businesses primarily in three ways.
Offering something radically new
The difference between “change” and “disruption” is usually a matter of time, and level of impact.
Merely improving an existing product or service is but the making of a good business model. Disrupting a market, on the other hand, calls for something that customers didn’t previously have access to, or a new product or service that blows the alternative out of the water.
New tech that solves a patient needs in novel ways, or overcomes current difficulties in previously prohibitive ways, always disrupts the market.
Delivering creativity and innovation over “best practices”
Sometimes, the problem with “the way things are” is that the organizations and institutions involved become self-servient. This often delays or hampers the adaptability needed to keep up with our current tech’s growth.
New tech is constantly addressing problems and delivering solutions that the current model can’t, or won’t. As an example, look no further than the profound effect that remote medical consultations and telemedicine are having in the current model.
Transforming the way in which tech and data is used
Technology doesn’t just change an industry; it revolutionizes the way things are done – and that includes what providers offer, and consumers look for.
Data plays a huge role within the healthcare market. Sometimes, all it takes is a new way of using it – or combining it in a novel way with existing tech – to generate massive, far-reaching waves.
With those “ways of disruption” in mind, let’s take a look at some notable examples of new tech or data implementation that are transforming the healthcare industry to its core.
3 Tech Innovations That Are Disrupting the Current Healthcare Landscape
As you’ve probably gathered by now, it seems we’ve finally reached that tipping point where not even the Healthcare industry’s resistance to change would be enough to stop the impending transformation.
What follows is but a few great examples of fantastic new technologies that are already changing the industry’s face, and paving the road for many other inventions already knocking on the door.
QuantaFlo™ the Reliable Alternative to ABI Testing
QuantaFlo™ System for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), a Modern Alternative for Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)
Testing Not long ago, the standard method of identifying Peripheral Arterial Disease was to employ systems that used doppler ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs – an older technology that until recently was the only alternative.
However, in recent years, the QUANTAFLO™ PAD Test has been growing to become the new gold standard. Unlike hard to operate and time consuming doppler ABI testing systems, the QUANTAFLO™ PAD Test is fast, simple and requires no specialized medical training to operate. That is to say that it has all the hallmarks of all disruptive technologies. Using just a small sensor along with software that runs on Windows, Android or iOS, this revolutionary system is the best PAD test system we have today. It’s intuitive, portable, efficient, and accurate.
The test only takes 5 minutes, and the results are available immediately after the test. The QuantaFlo™ PAD test system is precisely the type of new tech that hits all the marks and changes the status quo forever.
Engineering for All’s RevDx Blood Testing Device
Blood tests are as core to healthcare as anything else you can imagine, and then some. They have been for well over half a century, and are the go-to diagnostic tool for most medical situations.
The problem? The way in which diagnostic blood tests are done hasn’t changed in decades.
Blood gets drawn into one vial for each type of test and sent to a lab. Technicians prepare slides from each sample and examine them under a microscope. Results arrive in hours or days, assuming you are in a place with the necessary infrastructure.
Israeli startup Engineering for All (EFA) is poised to change that with their revolutionary RevDx, a portable, lab-quality device incorporating a state of the art multi-channel technology that can deliver affordable blood tests everywhere.
The company’s vision is for their invention to become an essential tool in every healthcare worker’s bag for home visits, emergencies, remote location services, and point-of-care. In short, something that would reach every corner of the industry.
3D Printing and 3D Bioprinting
3D printing is impacting many industries in reducing labor costs while increasing production rates and healthcare remains one of the industries that stands to gain the most out of this mind-blowing new technology.
Thanks to bold companies like e-NABLE and Organovo, 3D printing is helping healthcare professionals and patients around the world. Precise and custom designs can be made for patients who are not all the same when it comes to mass-produced prosthetics, and tissue engineering is another breakthrough that surgeons are beginning to adopt.
While still at a somewhat early stage, 3D printing technology is developing rapidly every day, reducing the cost of manufacturing prototypes, prosthetics, pharmaceutical products, and even living tissue and skin.
The organ and tissue transplant industry might see a radical change in the next few years.
Furthermore, 3D printing is already assisting in diagnostic imaging. We are now able to transform 2D x-ray or CT scan into a 3D model and allowing physicians to diagnose with a more comprehensive view and potentially catching something they might have missed in a 2D image.
It’s definitively encouraging to see the huge strides disruptive technology is making at overhauling the whole healthcare industry.
From broad new tech like 3D printing to specific new diagnostic methods like the QUANTAFLO™ PAD Test, the flow of new inventions seems unending, and change, inevitable.
While the goal of effective, affordable, and transformative healthcare technology for everyone is still a bit further down the road, it has never been closer.