In less than a year, the health sector has been disrupted. And it’s about time. This global pandemic is forcing change and wrecking havoc on many industries. The travel sector is on hold. Our children are being educated at home. And, soon we will receive prescription drugs on demand.
A year ago, I arranged a GP check-up after returning from an international conference (remember those?). The whole process was tedious. After a number of attempted phone calls, I secured an appointment for a few days later. I arrived on time and waited 30 minutes for my doctor, who was running behind schedule. The appointment took 10 minutes. The doctor sent me off to the pharmacy with a handwritten prescription for my medication. The pharmacist told me that the ‘off-the shelf’ medication would take 20 minutes to process. Have you ever wondered what happens during that period of time, when a pharmacist types furiously into a back-office computer?
Fast-forward 12 months, and my doctor’s website has been modernised. I can now book a 10-minute video consultation online and pay for it in advance. After the call, she sends my prescription directly to my local pharmacy. The health sector has been disrupted. Ok, so the pharmacy still has a lengthy process and I have to collect the script myself, but this is a huge leap forward.
New entrants can operate at scale
Amazon recently entered the pharmacy business, and like the other industries they’ve disrupted, my medication will soon arrive on the same day with my books and groceries. I’m a prime member, and they have all my personal data already, so why not manage my medical records too?
Just think of the use case: You are not well so you ask Alexa to call a doctor. Alexa automatically connects you to an available doctor on an Amazon global panel. The doctor triages your condition over your secure video enabled smart device. Then she prescribes your medication which you receive at home later that day. The health sector has been disrupted.
The economist recently featured an article on the timely disruption of the health sector, citing it as ‘the world’s most complex and immovable industry’. Their diagram below is telling.
There are reasons for this slow digitisation of course. Patient records must be secure. Preventing medical malpractice is of paramount importance. The health sector is not one where you can easily learn from mistakes. There will be huge compliance challenges, and as a result the health sector remains cautious.
The pandemic has shown what is possible in health though, and the list of health tech start-ups is growing quickly. Two examples in Ireland are Silvercloud Health and Health Beacon. Both of these startups made the Deloitte Fast 50 list, showcasing the country’s fastest growing technology companies. Silvercloud provides a secure technology service for digital mental health programs. Health Beacon is the world’s leading digital health platform for injectable medications.
We’ve also seen the big pharmaceutical companies move quicker than ever before. According to the World Economic Forum it typically takes 10 years to fully develop a vaccine and get it through the multiple phases of clinical trials. The call to action by the industry to the Covid-19 pandemic and developing vaccines to protect us from this deadly virus has been nothing short of remarkable. Co-operation and rapid problem solving is a must to help solve big health challenges such as Cancer and Alzheimer’s.
New record keeping technologies such as blockchain, and secure messaging platforms like Signal, are paving the way for developers and tech-entrepreneurs to solve our biggest health challenges. Couple that with the exponential growth in wearable technology, and soon visiting the doctor could soon become as easy as asking Alexa.
Are you building the next disruptable technology? Book a discovery call with Saltwater consulting today, and we’ll help you implement strategies to help your business scale well.