Guest Blogger: Donato Tramuto, Chairman and CEO, Physicians Interactive
Why is the healthcare industry lagging technologically?
In a world of digital information, cutting-edge technology, connection, integration, information sharing and collaboration – all of which have transformed virtually every industry – I ask myself, why hasn’t the healthcare industry caught up? When so much advanced technology exists today, why aren’t we leveraging it in healthcare?
In my opinion, there are two main obstacles that have been preventing the medical industry from tapping into this unharnessed treasure.
Problem #1: Silos
In medicine, we have knowledge, creativity and innovation trapped in silos. What is the outcome of “siloing?” We are letting brilliant knowledge go to waste. We are not making new discoveries that are right under our noses. We have people, programs and systems that are limited in their ability to work together. We enjoy the fruits of idea-sharing and collaboration in so many different fields and in everyday life. Healthcare should be no different.
Problem #2: Focus on Money vs. People
It seems one and the same when a business says, “We can profit from helping people,” vs. “We can help people, and there is money to be made in doing so.” But the two statements actually have completely different meanings – and results. So much could be gained if technologies were developed with the advancement of medicine and the betterment of humankind in mind, instead of money being the top objective. We are in need of a catalyst that will shift our attention and intention back to truly caring for the patient, rather than earning more of the almighty dollar.
Evolution. Revolution. Collaborative IQ.
“Collaborative IQ” means bringing together the collective intelligence, shared technologies and the diverse expertise of millions of people and companies. Could you imagine how this would change medicine if that was the norm?
What is coming down the pipeline in medical innovation is absolutely vital, but mankind has the opportunity to help patients right now through the use and integration of existing technologies.
Examples of Collaborative IQ
Let me give you an example of where Collaborative IQ is being used today in medicine to create life-changing discoveries. I recently learned that Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS), which is for the treatment of debilitating chronic pain, was developed based on pacemaker technology. These are two completely different medical disciplines: cardiology and pain management. However, it was the collaborative sharing of ideas that made this SCS discovery possible. Through this exchange of knowledge, engineers in other industries were able to build upon neurostimulation device technology to make it even more advanced. In contrast to the single pulse of electricity for the pacemaker, the engineers were able to create a device that utilizes electrical stimulation of multiple places on the spinal cord to mask pain in various areas of the body. Thanks to this innovation, people who were previously on heavy pain medications and housebound were given a second chance at life.
This same neurostimulation technology was shared and used to develop groundbreaking cochlear implants that deliver hearing to deaf patients. The device works by electrically stimulating nerves in a person’s inner ear. Because of this device, adults and children who have severe deafness, and who receive little or no benefit from using hearing aids, are able to hear.
Here’s one last example — and it’s one of our own at Physicians Interactive. In October 2014, Physicians Interactive partnered with the not-for-profit Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization to create the Health eVillages Collaborative Coalition to supply crucial information on the Ebola virus. The goal of the Collaborative Coalition was to support ongoing Ebola global relief efforts through mobile and web-based applications that provide healthcare professionals with practical clinical knowledge as well as accurate, up-to-date medical information to help reassure and educate patients. Coalition partners include MedHelp®, WelVU™, Univadis® and The Tramuto Foundation. To date, the Coalition has delivered targeted communications on the disease to 3.3 million healthcare professionals in 36 countries and to more than one million US consumers to help prevent the spread of the disease. It’s amazing what we can achieve when we work together toward a common goal.
What would the world look like if Collaborative IQ was the standard in healthcare?
There are many powerful examples of how information sharing and collaboration – the essence of Collaborative IQ – have changed the world. If Collaborative IQ was widely embraced, imagine how the field of medicine could progress in the blink of an eye. A patient needing help from a specialist in another city, state or country might find their access to care limited by geography. However, with the assistance of technologies like apps, wearables and video-enabled devices, patients and specialists could leverage a care delivery ecosystem that is no longer limited by physical proximity.
Furthermore, envision a reality where clinicians across every discipline have ready access to the knowledge, technologies and resources that would allow them to make new medical discoveries – and instantly share those discoveries around the world – leading to a complete breakthrough in patient care and treatment.
Time to Shift Priorities
I truly believe that Collaborative IQ will drive a much needed shift back to the core tenet of healthcare: improving patients’ health and wellbeing.
How many additional lives would be saved if knowledge was shared in the name of public service? When we begin addressing patient care from a human rights perspective, we find ourselves in a position to catalyze meaningful change. And not just someday, but today.
It’s time for each of us to deploy Collaborative IQ within – and between – our own organizations and drive this new evolutionary stage in healthcare. Together, we will usher in a new era of collaboration and integration for the betterment of all.
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