Uber-izing Diagnostic Imaging with Amazon-ification and AirBnB-ness

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October 1, 2017

Cheesy titles aside, wouldn’t it be great if we could wave a magic wand and “fix” stuff. If it were that “easy” somebody would have done it, is often the counter. However did we expect Uber to revolutionize something as traditional as taxis or AirBnB to explode the demand for rentals? They didn’t do this alone, the trust that Google built with search or Amazon with user reviews seems to be paying off. Similarly can something revolutionary happen in medical imaging?

Let’s look at the basic ingredients of demand and supply. We have a huge demand in ageing world population that is living longer and steadily growing with more money to spend as the developing world catches up with the rest. In diagnostic imaging we have an expensive resource i.e. medical systems which are getting more powerful with better capabilities at lower costs as the technology becomes pervasive. Healthcare is moving from reactive to proactive medicine, providing value based care instead of activity based fees. Nowhere is this care more acute than the last few years of a person’s life, where we tend to incur the majority of our healthcare expenses with mixed results. I recently read the excellent book on palliative care by Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End which argues that care can be better with less intervention.

Some fixes are evident like getting a definitive diagnosis with diagnostic imaging before pursuing  invasive procedures. My hope is to accelerate these trends with business innovation. Can manufacturers, hospitals and clinicians come together to improve the lives of patients or better still, entire populations? I think we can,  when the people who build the technology work closer with the clinicians who use it to empower the patients who are demanding consumer driven care standards from hospitals to homes. Uber hopped directly into consumer’s hands with a smart phone app connecting them to drivers with cars sitting mostly idle. Imaging could have similar consumer driven models demanding better quality with user reviews and more efficient utilization with on-demand scheduling to lower costs. Some of this is already happening, see the site targeting consumers looking for transparency with pricing and reviews of healthcare procedures by location at healthcarebluebook.com. What remains is completing the loop with healthcare providers while protecting patient privacy. Now if it were that easy…. (to be continued).

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