Several reports within the past few months including one from CDC on COVID-19 related Hospitalization, and the New York State Daily COVID-19 Tracker has made it clear that people with comorbidities, especially diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and those from more disadvantaged sectors of society are more adversely affected by COVID-19 than those who have resources and access to preventive health. Social isolation due to COVID-19 will only exacerbate the health outcomes for vulnerable populations.
Preventive Health outcomes are even worse
Lifestyle disease used to affect the population that came into a bit of wealth with access to calorie-dense diet and sedentary lives. That’s not the case anymore with the cost of calories dropping precipitously in the past few decades. The well-educated and relatively wealthy are in better health than ever before, as they have the time and resources to invest in preventive health.
Technology has been a great leveler
The improvements in human longevity and comfort have been made possible by technology more than any policy prescriptions. The richest, even 100 years ago didn’t have the quality of life that is available to most people around the world with modest means – vaccines, electricity, cars, air travel, mobile phones, and air conditioning. This doesn’t mean that policies are not important, but they need to harness the potential that technology offers, especially to reduce the disparity in health outcomes.
Preventative health is an analog hell hole
Intuitively, it makes a lot of sense for Healthcare to be analog — after all, it’s an industry that’s predicated on patient-physician interaction. This makes sense as someone who’s sick needs to be seen by a Doctor or a healthcare provider. Unfortunately, this embedded thinking goes way beyond treating sick patients. It is a pervasive solution to every problem, especially preventative health.
Preventative health is the ugly stepchild of the system that focuses on treating the sick. So, it’s not surprising that traditional methods used to treat the sick are prescribed to solve this problem.
Preventative health is an asynchronous problem
Life is asynchronous and so is everything that drives it, especially health. Preventative health is a 24/7 problem and it makes sense to use a 24/7 solution.
Healthy living that is needed to prevent diseases like diabetes and other chronic illnesses is driven by a complex interaction of genetics, stress, sleep, food, exercise, gut health, and environmental factors like weather, traffic, etc.
Inducing healthy habits to people who may not have exercised for decades, gotten used to eating without thinking, sleep-deprived, and unable to cope with stress requires Asynchronous creativity.
If cars can drive themselves?
Then why can’t a fully digital solution drive you to better health? The answer is, off course, it can, and it will! The era of true digital solution to Healthcare problems is upon us, especially around preventative health.
The confluence of readily available medical & genetics data live data stream from IoT (wearable devices, biosensors, activity trackers), combined with ubiquitous smartphone usage, cloud infrastructure, and increased digital literacy will lead us to a truly digital future.
The answer is A.I. Health
For the first time, not only do we understand complex interactions that drive human health, we have the ability to put to good use the data and improve health outcomes.
With the availability of such data, we can start offering to consumers, for the first time, the ability to let their data be used (with their permission) to better manage their health.
This is an inflection point for consumers. On one hand, is the promise of technology that can deliver long-lasting benefits, and on the other hand, is the issue of trust that technology companies have failed time and again. One way to restore trust is to change the financial dynamic of the relationship between consumers and technology. Nothing is really free, and when consumers get “free” stuff, they end up giving up their data and privacy.
A.I. Health, if offered at a fair price, can solve this paradox. By paying for a service, consumers can drive what and how much data they want to share. They will also have rights and protection that they give up when getting “free” apps.
Advanced technology now offers an opportunity to deliver cost-effective preventive health to a large swath of the population that has been left out, either due to socio-economic conditions, exclusionary policies, and locational constraints.