“Understanding what causes illness and knowing how to self-manage symptoms is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves”. Kim Knight
This week at the Cloud in Health Symposium in Auckland, we were given a glimpse of the future of IT-driven healthcare for New Zealand.
Three themes stood out:
- New Zealand is moving to a VIRTUAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM where more and more patient visits are conducted remotely via remote devices or distance consultations, with a goal, according to Dr Damian Tomic, of “40% of all contact with patients being virtual by Dec 2017”.
- We are moving to PEOPLE POWERED HEALTHCARE where the healthcare system will encourage and teach patients to take greater responsibility for their health.
- FUTURISTIC TECHNOLOGIES will allow for revolutionary inside-the-body monitoring of vital body signs, for example, by injecting micro cameras inside the body to remotely monitor symptoms
PEOPLE POWERED HEALTHCARE
For years my clinical practice has been about advocating ‘people-powered healthcare’, where clients learns self-mastery over their well being through private coaching or online self-help health programs. Understanding what causes illness and knowing how to self-manage symptoms is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. So I was glad to hear that this is the vision for the future of healthcare from some of our top medical minds.
Dr Damian Tomic, Clinical Director of Primary and Integrated Care Waikato DHB, is looking forward to a revolutionized healthcare system where “patients are kept healthy before they become patients, and are put at the centre of their healthcare, empowering them to manage their own health”.
Why the need for such radical change?
While in the USA one fifth of the GDP is spent on healthcare, in New Zealand the healthcare bill is equally the highest single item of government spending: 22% of tax revenue is used on the public healthcare system with a projected increase of 31% by 2060. Healthcare spending has now reached such an unsustainable level, the government is currently seeking private funding for healthcare. (New Zealand Healthcare Congress 2016)
Darrin Hackett, Executive Director of Virtual Care and Innovation, Waikato DHB, clearly stated “we cannot survive if we deliver healthcare as we do today in 15… or 10… or even 5 years. With an ageing population which will hit 25% of the total population by 2030, we need alternative resources to humans”.
According to Hackett “consumer technology will drive the change”: the use of our personal mobile phones and mobile devices will be where and how we interact with our health professionals and monitor our health. Already in the USA, patients are sent health reminders and updates via wristbands which also ongoingly monitor vital signs.
Gabe Rijpma, Senior Director of Health and Social Services, Microsoft Asia, was straight to the point as he stated we have been operating a “sick care system” and it’s finally time to move to a ‘healthcare system’. With the volume of healthcare data doubling every 24 months, he stressed it’s critical we make greater use of technology to monitor and store information, in particular to manage the 3 core technological health industry disruptors of precision medicine, remote monitoring and auto managing of provisions.
VIRTUAL / AUGMENTED REALITY AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
“Ultimately we will learn that the greatest piece of technology we could ever wish for sits between our own ears”.
People are about to discover that virtual and augmented reality are not just for teenage gamies or pokemon addicts! This is the stuff of Sci-fi films coming to life where micro-chipping is not just limited to your dog or cat.
Micro-cameras, the size of a grain of salt, can now be injected via syringe into tissues to monitor symptoms and vital signs, whilst ‘neural dust transceiver’ implants injected into the brain can send data to machines outside the body.
MS Hololens ‘mixed reality’ blends 3D holographic content into the physical world, allowing for interaction between digital content and the ‘real’ environment. Learning comes alive as flat illustrations turn into 3D images which medical students explore, alter, and examine from every angle.
The IBM ‘Watson’ technology uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data, allowing a super computer to assess and diagnose in seconds what might take a doctor days, months or even years.
ART OF HEALTH AT THE FOREFRONT OF CHANGE
“The key to the success of these new technologies does not just lie in the technology itself. It lies in our understanding of what really causes dis-ease, and how to solve it, even without technology”.
I was excited to see how the therapies I and many of my colleagues offer, as well as their mode of delivery, are well up with the play. Whilst for the past 10 years many have scoffed or not even understood this level of healthcare, I sense things are about to change…
- VIRTUAL HEALTHCARE – yes! Since 2009 I have been ‘seeing’ clients remotely worldwide and since 2015 100% of client consultations are carried out via the internet. I have even given up my clinic space as a result of the demand for remote sessions, including for clients located in my home town.
- PEOPLE POWERED HEALTHCARE – yes! Clients are taught exactly how to identify the meaning behind their symptoms, how symptoms are never random, and can be interpreted and cleared by understanding what causes ‘dis-ease’ and knowing how to restore inner peace of mind.
- NEW TECHNOLOGIES – yes and no! Whilst I will never be putting micro chips into people, I am using new technology to deliver online programs to people worldwide. The scope of these online self-help education programs is doing one of the most important things needed right now for a real revolution in healthcare: teaching people what causes illness and showing them how to both prevent and recover from it just by taking care of their total well being. It’s exciting!
The key to the success of these new technologies does not just lie in the technology itself. It lies in our understanding of what really causes dis-ease, and how to solve it, even without technology.
As long as our self-awareness, expansion of consciousness and willingness to take greater responsibility for our own health keeps pace with the evolution of technology, we will make good progress. And ultimately we will learn that the greatest piece of technology we could ever wish for sits between our own ears.