Disruptive Technologies in Health Care: A summary

by Hans on 2006/08/21

My apologies for not getting to this post sooner, but this past year has been … eventful. Here is my list of disruptive technologies that could be used in to improve and change health care. I have included links to the entries highlighting each technology – no need to rehash what’s already been written.

Disruptive technology #1: Video games

Disruptive technology #2: Mobile devices

Disruptive technology #3: The digital home

Disruptive technology #4: Ebay, auctions, and markets

Disruptive technology #5: Patient Reports

Disruptive technology #6: Wearable technologies

I thought about adding a few other technologies to this list, but decided otherwise. I do, however, have a few “honourable” mentions that I want to highlight.

  • Peer-To-Peer (P2P) networking: Originally, I thought about distributed computing and possibly tapping into (then) popular file-sharing applications like Napster or Kazaa. But, as I continued to think about this technology, I couldn’t really think of any health care specific applications. In some way, applications like Skype could bring cheap voice over IP (VOIP) services by utilizing all the computers being deployed by health care institutions. But, is this “application” disruptive? Perhaps a very useful application of P2P networking may be the emergence of “grid computing” in health care. Maybe we can begin to harness computer power to address some of the very complex and processor intensive modeling of proteins or gene sequencing.
  • Quantum/Nano computing: If the quantum computer gets developed, I think there will be an overall change in society’s ability to do things with a computer, not just in health care. Unfortunately, this technology is still too far removed from any real world application, stuck in the development stage. But, imagine the possibilities with almost limitless computing power…some of those disruptive technologies I highlighted would sure be taken to another level.
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): RFID is supposed to be the next big thing in business, particularly in asset management and inventory tracking. But, I’m not convinced that there will be such a large impact in health care. Already, we’re beginning to see simple RFID being extended to another level. HP announced the development of their “memory spot” technology. Just as well, I suppose that RFID and the subsequent developments will ultimately lead to the concept of ubiquitous computing.

This “runner-up” list and the highlighted disruptive technologies do have some very interesting possibilities for changing the health care system in many different ways. Ultimately, I believe that the most disruptive of all “technologies” will be the patient. Helping the patient is ultimately what this entire enterprise is about. And so, as long as the patient continues to challenge, to prod, to demand a better, more caring, and responsive system, the system will be forced to respond. These changes may take time and may not be right at first, but I’m confident that the changes will come. So, let’s keep empowering the patient!

I’d love to hear if anyone thinks that I have omitted any specific technologies or have included a technology that should not be included. I will try and revisit this topic in a year (or two) to see how my predictions have fared and whether and changes need to be made.

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