The healthy pace: Alexa vs. card

Two messages that @medinfode pointed out this week: Alexa learns diagnostics and the German Handelsblatt reports a breakthrough in electronic patient records. In their random juxtaposition, they form a lesson about the importance of speed: the healthy pace makes the healthcare of the future.

Doctor Alexa

Message one: Amazon is working on Alexa recognizing possible diseases by the human voice. I have already reported on similar approaches in connection with Beyond Verbal. And Amazon is already in the spotlight here in the blog as one of the key players in healthcare. As early as 2017, Amazon applied for the corresponding patent on the algorithm. Now this has been granted. In a nutshell: It is well known that Alexa constantly listens to what happens in the environment of the smart loudspeakers. With this development step at stake, Amazon is moving on to scanning the voices of the environment for diseases: Coughs and sniffles, but apparently also depressions. We futurologists have long predicted this: emotion becomes a natural part of data collection and analysis.

The benefits for Amazon are obvious. Anyone who knows the physical sensation of a person can address him personally at a decisive point. If you hear coughing, you can play out personalized advertising. And what’s more, they can also suggest orders and sell healing products. And, by the way, this creates an almost perfect usecase for models with ultra-short delivery times. DocMorris is currently advertising its online services nationwide with the slogan “Those who should stay in bed should not have to go to the pharmacy”. This logic is already outdated here: If you have the right smart speaker, you don’t even have to go to your online pharmacy.

Doctor with card

The other success message – and yes, it is a success message: The most important players in self-administration in the health care system of Germany have agreed on a policy paper that should provide us with a first form of the electronic health card for everyday use by 2021. This is a) more than has been achieved in the past 15 years. But that’s b) just exactly what it is: a paper. We have agreed on what the doctor´s associations should process and what the Gematik should process.

The key data sound promising: the patient retains sovereignty over the data. We at 2b AHEAD predicted in a large study as early as 2015 that this is where the future lies. Uniform standards should ensure broad application. And at least the Federal Minister of Health can already be quoted with the statement that the card is after all only one of potentially many access routes. The network structure in the background is decisive. And the health insurances publicly agree: A deviation is no longer possible without loss of face. On the other hand, who hasn’t actually lost face in the years since 2004? No one has been disturbed yet.

The healthy pace

And here is the connection: The one factor that is repeatedly underestimated in prognoses on artificial intelligence is its learning speed. Once in the world, the growth of performance continues to accelerate. Prerequisite: A sufficient amount of data is generated in the system. The fact that this is the case is unlikely to be seriously debated with Alexas’ market penetration. The forecast is characterized by a healthy pace. Some people program network standards, while others use algorithms to evaluate large amounts of data. Some are imposing sanctions on doctors to purchase suitable reading devices, others are having algorithms evaluate large amounts of data. Some hope for Gematik’s first successfully completed project, others have algorithms evaluate large amounts of data.

Who wins? Exactly.

SITiG and bitkom call for a federal agency for digital medicine

There are good reasons to think that the development towards a digitalised health economy in Germany is too slow. Unfortunately, there are even many good reasons for this. Anyone who can once again watch how medical specialists manually transfer patient data into the hospital database, including depreciation errors, has no more questions here. The device is out of order, again. This happened to me ten days ago. Bitkom and SITiG have now proposed setting up a federal agency for digital medicine to speed things up.

A motor for health communication?

This federal agency for digital medicine  is to develop standards, so the publications of the initiators in short and long, in order to make safe health communication possible. In the language of bitkom: “A Federal Agency for Digitised Medicine can create framework conditions for technical and semantic interoperability and for the implementation of data protection and data security requirements”. That´s Achim Berg, bitkom President. This agency shall have a catalytic effect, unites all players and will make Germany the “number one technology and research location” for medicine in Europe. The only thing still missing is the German government’s eHealth strategy, on which all of this could be built. A rogue who thinks of the Federal Government’s AI strategy and its almost comically formulated goal of establishing artificial intelligence as an “export hit”.

The Ärztezeitung sums up the initiative of SITiG and bitkom (involuntarily?): At its core both associations are concerned with control. With this federal agency for digital medicine they want to create a new instance of central supervision.

More Power to the Patient

The initiative fits in with the picture of future healthcare that has long been demanded by the associations. The result of these demands is known. The initiative also fits in with the tenor of the “Digital Health” conference organised by bitkom last week in Berlin: “More Power to the Patient”, the title of the conference, summarized here very succinctly.  Core results of the keynotes and contributions: It needs the electronic patient file. And again: lots of solutions for the object “patient”. But only little power for the user of the system, only little decision-making authority for the customer of the health economy. People are always turned into patients. And a “patient” obviously always needs others who know what is good for him. Others who decide for him and others who improve his care. Others who turn him into an object and others who set up federal agencies for this purpose.

The future of healthcare

Once again to take notes: Those who equip their field staff with iPads have not yet digitized their sales. Anyone who supplies a school class with laptops has not yet made a contribution to digital education. And anyone who demands an agency that will develop standards for the interoperability of data in the course of the introduction of the electronic health card in a long process and at great expense has neither digitized the health industry nor made a significant contribution to the future of healthcare.

The healthcare of the future will enable people to measure, change and raise their state of health and well-being – ideally beyond a 100% natural or God-given threshold. People will use technology to do this: Data of the most diverse kind and quality, algorithms for their evaluation, databases, genetic engineering, 3D printing and the like more. This is the scope of the digitalisation of health. Anyone wishing to support this through a federal agency should set up an agency that – analogous to the newly established digital agency of the German federal government – promotes leap innovations financially and structurally. There is plenty of room for this – see above. A federal agency for digital medicine, which ultimately springs from the spirit of controlling a complex system, will achieve exactly the opposite.