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Connected Healthcare: Make Way for Robo-Doc

July 17, 2015 by Susan Galer 4

Will robo-doc replace human physicians? Does your family have a chief compliance officer for health? How can we improve the quality of life for an aging population – over 2 billion people on the planet will turn 60 years old or more by 2050? What happens to healthcare as physician ranks plummet?

These are just a few of the fascinating questions experts answered during a recent episode of SAP’s Meet the Visionary Game-Changers radio broadcast entitled, MD in the Palm of Your Hand: Understanding Connected Care.

Connect care to everyday life

According to Dr. David Delaney, chief medical officer and head of the U.S. Healthcare team at SAP, the sickest 10 percent of the population are responsible for roughly 70 percent of healthcare spend, comprised of older people who typically have multiple, chronic illnesses. Noting that ownership of smartphones among people over age 65 is actually quite high, Delaney said connected care has potential to help improve healthcare in this population but only if the technology is easy to use.

“It has to be simple and operate in the background, embedded in their lives with how they use these mobile devices already,” he said.

Yet Delaney doesn’t believe health insights necessarily lead to impact. “The role of connected health and the opportunity is how we can use technology in an embedded fashion with people as they are living their lives to help nudge them a little bit to make better decisions regarding exercise, sleep and the various habits in our lives because a lot of what we’re asking people to do to make impact is not easy to do. It’s lifestyle changes.”

Delaney added that every family has a chief compliance officer, and harnessing the influence of someone’s social network to stay involved in monitoring health care and related habits can make a difference over time.

Connect care to early detection

Avner Halperin is CEO and co-founder of EarlySense, a company that develops sensors placed in beds or chairs to monitor in real-time a patient’s vital signs like heart, breathing and motion for fast detection of potential problems. Halperin advocated using technology for early intervention.

“The key to keeping people out of hospitals and in hospitals out of the ICU is knowing when and how to intervene; when to call a doctor, when to give a specific medication. And to do that, by learning how a patient is doing, learning his or her own patterns and identifying warning signs of anything beginning to go wrong. If you do that, if you intervene early, clinical studies show that you can dramatically reduce cost of care and dramatically reduce the need for hospitalization,” he said.

Connect technology to the human touch

Dr. Oliver Haferbeck, Head of Diabetes Care at Roche Diagnostics Germany said that while he would never exchange a human doctor for a robo-doc, technology has an important role in medical treatment.

“The solutions we can provide today with apps, watches and other devices allowing providers to get in touch whenever they’re needed, and helping the doctor see from the data and analysis how the patient is doing – if this patient doesn’t move enough or if there’s information the doctor would like to share right now, and not two months later during a scheduled office visit – this strengthens the new possibilities we have that personal contact can be added…where they can write an email or text message or give the patient a call, or just a vibration on the phone to tell them, why don’t you move again,” said Haferbeck.

As people live longer, quality of life becomes more of a priority. Data applied in the right dosage at the right time can give physicians more insights and people greater control over their health. More and more, connected care will be just what the doctor ordered.

Follow me @smgaler

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image: Shutterstock

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