Healthcare-Tech: Apple strengthens commitment

Healthcare-Tech in focus: around Apple, the sensors for potential developments are particularly finely adjusted. And even if Apple traditionally communicates very sparingly: The company’s job advertisements are a reliable source of news and trends. The US media company CNBC is just pointing out that Apple is looking for developers to expand the range of its own processors. One focus is on healthcare. CNBC quotes an Apple posting: The new employees should “help develop health, wellness, and fitness sensors”.

One possible field of application is Apple Watch. It already has functions to measure heart rate and activity data. Relevant blogs from Silicon Valley such as Venturebeat have already included the news. What is interesting is that Apple is obviously in the process of bringing the development of healthcare technology in-house. This would be a clear indication of the priority this issue has for the most valuable company in the world.

Healthcare-Tech-Apple-Fotolia

Retail goes Healthcare: Best Buy and Great Call

Retail goes Healthcare. A short message only, hardly taken up in European media: The US electronics retailer Best Buy has acquired a healthcare company: Great call. For $800 million. Great Call offers a whole package of health care services, mobile and decentralized, i.e.: at home.

A short review: Best Buy, de facto the US counterpart of Europe´s “Media Markt”, was facing insolvency just a few years ago. Consistent cost reduction, new store layouts and above all a concentration on new customer needs have led to a turnaround. Only recently, Amazon was considered the existence-threatening competitor of Best Buy. Amazon is now seeking the proximity of Best Buy and entering into strategic partnerships.

Future picture of retail and health

With this acquisition, Best Buy enables itself to extend the Smart Home solutions from its program a significant step and to act as a provider of health services. There is no doubt about the strategic importance of the segment anyway. Smart Home is an enormously growing segment in the electronics trade, even though its practical use is still limited: music, everyday shopping, some security and surveillance, lights on and off. At the same time, the market is growing enormously. The reports differ in detail; all in all, we can expect the market to quadruple from the beginning of 2017 to the beginning of 2018, with increasing momentum.

This is clearly based on concrete expectations for the future of both the retail and the healthcare sector. They will be even more influenced by technology. Wherever providers can offer highly personalized services, they will enable meaningful and profitable business models. Best Buy also points to the strong growth of potential customers. The company expects +50% of the US population to be over 65 over the next 20 years. I recently explained why I consider demographic change to be an enormously promising development. This assessment is again proven here.

 

Retail goes Healthcare - Best Buy´s CEO Hubert Joly
Retail goes Healthcare- Best Buy´s CEO Hubert Joly

The step of adding services to hardware sales is neither new nor revolutionary in itself. With the dynamics smart home solutions show in the market, it makes sense to want to supplement services here, that at the same time open up new industries and markets. Whoever is able to enter the customer´s house … We would expect this from every digital ecosystem operator from iOS to Android, from hardware producers, as well as from industry specialists to defend their own business models. However, this is where the retailer becomes active. This is a clear indication of which players across all sectors see very sober opportunities to realize business models in the healthcare sector. It´s just: Retail goes Healthcare.

 

Demographic change and healthcare: Good News

Demographic change and healthcare: The core business of health insurance in the future will no longer just be healing the sick. Health insurers will support healthy people – from the prevention of diseases to increasing well-being and life expectancy. This is the result of a current trend study by 2b AHEAD ThinkTank. Demographic change has a direct impact here.

Trend study health insurance

The healthcare sector will undergo unprecedented change by 2030. With digitalization, the possibilities of medical research, diagnostics, therapy, rehabilitation and prevention are growing at exponential speed. These effects are nowhere more evident than among the fastest-growing groups in our society:

  • The old who don’t feel old even when they retire,
  • the still older, who in many cases can still lead an active and active life, and
  • the very old, still rare today, soon an everyday occurrence.
The good news

The majority of today’s forecasts and future studies address demographic change as a problem and a threat. Of course, it will present us with social and economic challenges of an unprecedented scale. But for both individuals and our communities, demographic change represents the greatest conceivable progress: the considerable extension of one’s own life in activity and self-determination. Demographic change may be expensive news, but above all it is good news.

People born in this decade realistically reach an age of over 100 years. It is the interaction of four influential drivers that brings the dream of longer life within reach. The first condition is the freely available gene analysis. The second development concerns the breeding of individual copies of internal organs, which may be optimised compared to the previous version. The third prerequisite is a comprehensive understanding of the aging processes of humans. The fourth element is the synchronization of the human psyche with the virtual world. A breakthrough in research in all four fields is likely in the coming years.

For the sake of completeness: There is a well-founded opposite position to this, especially taken up here in the blog. It is represented among others by the medical ethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel. He fears extension as a phase of helplessness and diminishing dignity.

The increase of well-being

A decisive change in dealing with human health is the disappearance of the binary assumption that a patient is either healthy or ill. This categorical distinction has always been a fiction anyway. Nobody’s just sick or just healthy. Instead – assuming the corresponding amount of data and its continuous collection – the individual well-being can be measured and located on a scale. This is changing the goal of medical action. While yesterday the focus was on repair and damage prevention, tomorrow it will be on gradually improving one’s own well-being. What can I do to feel a little better tomorrow – and who will support me? The enlightened healthcare customers of the future are very consciously and with the support of digital assistance systems selecting the most competent physician for their situation, the appropriate insurance and the trustworthy data manager from their individual healthcare network. At the same time, they will no longer accept that the interaction of several service providers is associated with increased effort for them.

In the near future, evidence-based, personalised recommendations for targeted prevention will replace the always identical bonus booklets of health insurance companies and lump-sum and overall undirected health-promoting measures.

Test Case Robotics in Nursing

This can be clearly seen in the emergence of robotics in care. Robotics became a widely accepted matter of course in the course of the 1920s. This has long been the case in the field of dementia care. The fact that a robot has the patience to listen to the same question, the same story, the same excitement over and over again as it did the first time makes this development even easier.

However, the development will not be limited to animated stuffed animals. This is shown in the example of medication. Where nursing staff still have to work by hand today, the procedure is time-consuming and prone to errors. The next step is automated dispensing of medication to the patient at home: individual implementation of the medication plan by a pill robot. In the next step, robots learn to analyse the state of health of humans. By blood sample, air analysis, nutrition tracking, later by observing the skin temperature, the movement patterns and by voice analysis. The dosage of the active ingredient is calculated in real time.

In the next expansion stage, the medication robot is able to print the individually appropriate active ingredients onto a carrier directly before ingestion. Is this a relief for the nursing service? With great certainty. Does this development, and thus indirectly the demographic change, have the potential to improve the well-being of the individual patient? With a very high probability. These are the simple questions. But whose knowledge is the robot`s work based on? As soon as he has access to networked medical knowledge, his professional competence will always be higher than that of the individual doctor. For the time being, the family doctor is still needed to issue prescriptions, which also makes up for a reason to exist professionally. His profession will change permanently, a thesis that Markus Bönig of Vitabook has just confirmed here. The medicines or active ingredients do not have to be purchased in the pharmacy around the corner anyway. This opens up completely new business areas for new players.

Smart Home

An additional driver of this development is the currently exponentially growing networking of buildings, starting with Ambient Assistant Living. The smart home of the person in need of care is the first and most competent care robot. This means that completely new players are suddenly active in the health industry: Network operators, property managers, building contractors, manufacturers of electronics and sensor technology. This, too, is an indirect consequence of demographic change.

Health insurers as the health promoters of the future must start much earlier in the process, which means that they will occupy a much more active and positive position in the perception of health customers. The one-size-fits-it-all-principle has had its day. In future, health promoters will not react only when health customers are ill, but will continuously monitor their current state of health and act before the onset of a foreseeable illness. This too: That’s good news.

 

Healthcare in old age: Why this man limits his medical care himself

We live longer and longer. So far so familiar. In any case, from a Western perspective, this is basically synonymous with: This is an enormous step forward in civilization. We are getting older – and we will be able to enjoy the gain in lifetime healthy and fit. Healthcare in old age ensures that we extend the phase of active life. It promises to limit and limit the time of helpless, suffering existence.

The counter thesis represents Ezekiel J. Emanuel, oncologist and medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s pointing: We’ll postpone the date of our death. The time, however, when we can no longer live fit and active, is moving forward. And drastically. His consequence: He plans to limit his life. 75 is a good age to be remembered positively by family and friends. To be precise, Emanuel is not planning suicide or euthanasia. But after his 75th birthday he will only accept palliative medicine, not curative medicine. No tests for prevention, no nutritional optimization, no exercises for mental fitness. Healthcare in old age exclusively for the well-being, not for the prolongation of life.

Ezekiel Emanuel Healthcare im AlterHe published his position and the underlying statistics in a detailed article in The Atlantic: Why I hope to die at 75. The editor Mareike Kürschner took up a conversation again and now, four years after the statement, asked again (Paywall). Meanwhile Emanuel is 61 years old – the self-chosen end is in sight. We’re in position.

The path to self-determination

Two thoughts stand out: Emanuel describes quite touchingly how the fact of the self-chosen end completely changes his perspective on the years before. How he feels activated to take care of the big questions of life. To attract important people from his environment, to learn, experience, experience… Obviously, the limitation of life expectancy leads to exactly the degree of self-determination and self-efficacy that healthcare providers often promise in vain in old age.

The second idea lies on a higher level: We afford to spend a considerable portion of the health care costs for the last 14 days of life alone. Against this background, the conscious renunciation of the attempt of healthcare in old age to find out a few more months of life is almost revolutionary. As understandable as this attempt may be in individual cases – from an overarching perspective it sometimes seems somewhat desperate.

I put this up for discussion: the better we understand how to prolong human life, the greater our responsibility grows to determine the point in time at which the bow closes with dignity. tbc.