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Healthcare Must Learn to Integrate Technologies, Data

Daniel Kraft, MD: ‘We all want, in a sense, the Uberization of healthcare—the ability to press a button and bring a patient to you.’

In 2007, the first iPhone was released, contributing to the era of the smartphone, which has changed the way the world operates. Today, a mere 10 years later, the smartphone is regularly used in healthcare. It is driving the development of other medical devices and processes that promise to revolutionize healthcare.

In a keynote address at Sunday’s Opening Ceremony, Daniel Kraft, MD, provided a glimpse of the technology that is expected to change the way otolaryngologists and all healthcare professionals practice medicine.

“Imagine the next generation of smartphones. These phone devices have become medicalized. Many of you and your colleagues use these every day in a variety of forms. They are launching this exponential age,” said Dr. Kraft, a physician-scientist, entrepreneur, and innovator, and chair of Medicine at Singularity University.

Healthcare has already become digitalized, he said. Patients are wearing FitBits to track their heart rates to become healthier. Patients are using sensors to measure everything from their blood sugar levels to their children’s temperatures.

The next step is to bring together the data collected from all of those devices, which will require healthcare professionals to become exponential thinkers, Dr. Kraft said. A model for this exponential thinking is Uber, which took existing technologies and created a new business model, ultimately disrupting the traditional method of obtaining public transportation.

“They connected the dots. Push a button, and they bring a car to you. Soon, those cars will be self-driving Ubers,” he said. “We all want, in a sense, the Uberization of healthcare—the ability to press a button and bring a patient to you.”

Uber is just one example of a disruptive company, which disrupts existing approaches and processes and uses innovation to build new approaches. Another is Amazon, which is expanding into healthcare and insurance, Dr. Kraft said.

“Unless you become a disrupter, you will become a disruptee,” he said, explaining the challenges of change. “How do we make sense of this data and not become overwhelmed with it?”

Healthcare is nearing a point where patients will be monitored 24/7, which means physicians will be too busy to spend time entering data into an EHR. The world of medicine must figure out how to integrate all of the data.

“Maybe we implement a FICO score for health?” Dr. Kraft said. “Soon, we will be looking for 10 patients who need to come in because their check engine lights have come on.”

Technologies that may come into play include augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics, blended reality headsets, brain-computer interfaces, and the everyday use of genomics to treat diseases, he said.

“Maybe you can become a data donor,” Dr. Kraft said, adding that clinical trials could be distributed on smartphones. “We have to think exponentially.”

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