Emerging Competitive Spaces from the combination of Societal Shifts
Over the next 10 years the healthcare and food industry as we know it could change dramatically. From dietary suggestions to your health profile by a doctor to a restaurant or meal service to knowing your dietary restrictions before you walk in the door. Most millennials acknowledge the importance of eating healthy, but all admit they do not always eat as healthy as they should. Just because you are health conscious doesn’t mean you are healthy. Research has shown that medical care influences your health by only 20%, while social, behavioral, and economic factors account for 70%. Large hospitals and family medical practices could also find extinction as the new aging generation finds not need to have a relationship with their PCP, but more medical decisions are based on data, AI, and the patient’s genetic makeup.
The Change in Demographics
In an article published in April 2019 by the Pew Research institute the Census Bureau projects that this year the Millennial generation will finally eclipse the Baby Boomer generation as the largest adult generation in the United States. So why is this important? When we combine that information with the potential expectations Millennials have for healthcare, we can start to see a change form in how healthcare might be provided. For instance, a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45% of 18 to 29-year-olds and 28% of 30 to 49-year-olds have no Primary Care Provider. Older generations such as the Baby Boomers are somewhere over 85%. Granted, you would expect older individuals to have a higher need for healthcare and are comfortable in the current system. In the same Kaiser Family survey, they found that over one-third of the Millennials surveyed stated that they preferred walk-in clinics over going to visit a doctor’s office. Some might argue that Millennials are looking for speed and availability of appointments over doctor-patient relationship others might say it is the constant way they were brought up always plugged into the network that hindered the development of their social interaction. Either way it will push change.
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A joint survey from Salesforce and Harris Poll found that 71 percent of millennial patients would like to have their current providers use mobile apps to book appointments, share health data and manage preventive care. We can expect as the population of Millennials age this to can only grow as they take full advantage of technology and potentially gain more interest in telehealth. The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, and patient to professional health-related education. For non-urgent health concerns, millennials are already twice as likely as other generations to act on health advice found online, including from sources like social media. The potential problem with this is that there could be the chance of misdiagnosis that could cause more harm for the patient than good. Healthcare providers will have to shift to more online or in-home services to mitigate this issue.
Though it is perceived that the millennial generation is more in tuned to healthier living and overall wellness. A recent report released by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Index stated that Millennials are seeing their health decline faster than the previous generation as they age. If overall health is at a decline, we can expect need for treatment to increase which would push up costs simultaneously. In another recent survey it was found that Millennials are twice as likely as seniors and boomers to request cost estimates before undergoing treatment, often checking prices at multiple locations before deciding. The same survey found that 54% of millennials have or will put off healthcare needs due to high costs. This tells us that the millennial generation is highly price sensitive, for the healthcare industry to support this generation’s needs the change will have to be inevitable.
Big Data, Fast Data
Through the increased use of smart technology, we have already seen an expansion of available large data sets. Most people are now constantly connected thanks to smart phones. The World Advertising Research Center estimates that around 2 billion people currently access the internet via only their smartphone, which equates to 51 percent of the global base of 3.9 mobile users. This number is estimated to grow to almost three quarters (72.6 percent) of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3.7 billion people. The availability to track and store individual’s data on a second to second basis can have a huge impact on not only how we look at our lifestyle, but also how we manage it. So how can this positively affect the healthcare industry?
We know adverse drug events plague today’s healthcare system. From physicians being overwhelmed to evaluate and implement optimal drug therapies. To pharmacists being burdened to manage patient medication portfolios with more and more patients taking multiple medications. The increased use of big data can help these two co-manage your medication portfolio by identifying which drug combinations create adverse side effects or even can become toxic if mixed. This inevitably will reduce the patient deaths and overall reduces healthcare costs.
We all know that the key to a healthy life starts with what we consume. Millennials have been labelled the most “health conscious generation ever”, partly due to their unprecedented access to the overabundance of health information available online via the internet. But with all of the available information we still see a decline in millennials health. In a study from York University’s Faculty of Health someone who is 40 years old now will have to eat less and workout more than if you were 40 in 1971. The study has found that to combat obesity it is much more complex that just focusing in on “Energy in should be less than energy out”. Because of how sedentary out culture has forced us to become we will need something to better manage our dietary health.
Furthermore, big data is already being used in meal subscription services. HelloFresh is one of the largest and most respected meal service providers on the planet. HelloFresh has millions of customers worldwide and therefore has access to an abundance of customer data. Currently they are using this to plan potential popular meals during certain seasons so they can create new food combinations not offered anywhere else. HelloFresh is also using data to find ways to persuade people to try new flavor profiles not previously considered. If the end goal is to change the way people cook, it is inevitable some of this data will have to be combined with your health profile in your electronic medical records.
With the introduction of electronic medical records laying a foundation for big data analysis. Currently AI excels at recognizing patterns and categorizing them in datasets. Using pattern recognition to identify patients at risk of developing a condition or recognizing that it has deteriorated due to a lifestyle or environmental change is another area where AI is beginning to take hold in healthcare. AJ Abdallat, the CEO of Beyond Limits states that "Machine learning can be effective in detecting something anticipated, but it fails when confronted by the unexpected. To take artificial intelligence to the next level developers must emphasize both deductive and inductive reasoning and emulate those cognitive patterns in the machines they design.” A benefit of dynamic, deep learning solutions, he added, is that they can explain their reasoning and conclusions a major benefit for complex decision-making. The future is bright for Artificial Intelligence to take data and draw its own conclusions using deep learning.
This can also show great promise for more reliable patient diagnosis and optimized drug management when introduced to large amounts of data. One of AI's biggest potential benefits is to help people stay healthy. The better and healthier someone’s lifestyle is, the less likely their need for a doctor as often. AI is already being used to detect diseases more accurately and in their early stages. According to the American Cancer Society, a high proportion of mammograms yield false results, leading to 1 in 2 healthy women being told they have cancer. The use of AI is enabling review and translation of mammograms 30 times faster with 99% accuracy, reducing the need for unnecessary biopsies.
With AI aiding in more accurate diagnosis in healthcare we can expand this idea toward individualized diets. The idea that one single diet for everyone is insane. Since the early part of the 20th Century we have seen promotion of universal healthy eating habits, such as using a food pyramid and eating three “square” meals a day. But, thanks to the implementation of AI in food research it has become clearer that different foods can have different effects on different people. There is not a single best food or diet that works best for everyone. What works for one person might not work well for another. In the future we will be able to not only design an individualized diet to optimize metabolic response. But also individualize a diet that promotes healthy living and reduces the potential for chronic illnesses, reduce dependency on medications, and also reduce the cost of healthcare thanks to better accuracies.
In conclusion, from this analysis we can see AI and Big Data have already been influencing healthcare as we know it. Where we still are lacking assistance is in our daily dietary needs. Based on the information on the evolution of technology. I feel sometime soon we will see a Dietary Management Systems in place. With millennials being labeled as being health conscious doesn’t necessarily mean that they are healthy. As they age, they are going to want a preparatory system that not only interacts with doctors and pharmacists, but also interact with food delivery and grocery stores.
From daily or weekly data checks AI and deep data analytics will be able to prescribe not only more accurate diagnoses and medication mixtures. They will be able to change your diet instantaneously based on a reading from your smart phone, or your prior sleep pattern from your smart home. Everyone knows that we need to eat healthier and the information is available. With the creation of Dietary Management Systems, we will find that technological advances in robotics will allow for a potential “Jetson” like home maid or butler system. The combination of the two will take out excuses for eating unhealthy meals which will lead to healthier individuals and lower healthcare costs.
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