Consumer-facing healthcare blurs the digital-real world lines with X-as-a-Service models
Seamless integration of the physical and digital worlds for service delivery is the best use of digitization, and its healthcare application might be the noblest use of it
Going exclusively digital was never the purpose of effective digitization. In fact, blurring the lines of the physical and digital worlds is what the fourth industrialization is all about.
In the wake of the pandemic, we have come to realize the gaps in our healthcare system, but digitization in the sector has accelerated to play catch-up to the circumstances.
Here’s a snapshot of the digital practices shaping the consumer-facing healthcare industry, and spoiler, things are looking up.
Software-as-a-Service: Building on the familiarity
Most of us have used one app or another for virtual medical consultation, health and wellness management, activity tracking, or ordering medicines from online pharmacies. What more can be to it?
As I write this, hundreds of techies are building innovative solutions to make e-healthcare more efficient for all stakeholders. Self-diagnosis using WebMD and Mayo Clinic will see a renaissance with more sophisticated and easy-on-the-pocket diagnostic tools powered by artificial intelligence.
Product-as-a-Service: Healthcare in a box
When I passed through immigration formalities at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in April 2021, I was handed an at-home testing kit by Switch Health. On day 8 of quarantine, I would scan a QR code to log on to their system and do my own nasal swabbing in presence of a nurse supervising the process over video call — and mail the kit back to the lab in secured packaging. Everything I would need was right there in the box — from the nasal swab and vial for storage to wipes, instruction sheets, stickers, biohazard bag, and Purolator mailing pack.
The sheer seamless transition between using this kit and the digital aspect of it was impressive enough to not mind quarantining for a bit.
Similarly, Smile Direct Club creates custom dental aligners for you by way of kit delivery and its digital platform. As someone who had to visit the orthodontist every month for 2+ years for teeth alignment, I say take my money.
The bottom line is, we might see more of this practice in healthcare and wellness — and I am here for it
Data-as-a-Service: Decentralized and secure patient data
OK, granted that many healthcare institutions already have your healthcare data synchronized within the system. Having said that, manual entry and silos of patient data and inaccuracies are still a major problem. Growing concerns over sensitive data ownership call for new solutions.
Blockchain addresses this with its decentralized, secure nature. We already have several startups utilizing blockchain to manage patient data in a decentralized system, not overlooking the compliance, consent, and ownership of the data. Medicalchain, BurstIQ, and Factom are just some of the companies in this domain.
Beyond that, blockchain does have a huge untapped potential, and what becomes of it remains to be seen
Industry 4.0 is the true renaissance for innovators who want to crush the system that failed us in the Covid-19 pandemic — and create one that will be convenient, accessible, agile enough for decades to come.