It’s that time of year again: Over the past few weeks, we’ve reviewed some of the most-read articles from the OPEN MINDS team in 2016, and I’ve been keeping an eye on some of the other “top ten” lists from around the industry. As the new year starts to wear away, there is one more “year-end summary” piece that I wanted to call attention to. Recently, IBM Research posted a list of five emerging and innovative technologies that will “change our lives in the next five years” (see IBM 5 In 5).
What I found to be particularly enthralling is that two of the items on this exciting list were directly related to health care:
Artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing will change how we diagnose and treat behavioral health issues: Earlier this year Craig Rhinehart, Director of Innovation and Market Development for IBM Watson Health, described cognitive computing systems as “systems [that] are becoming more human-like in the way that they are used and in the way they do things. Instead of programming every step or function into a computer, now systems can learn from outcomes” (see The Future Of Care Coordination? It’s Elementary, Watson). Cognitive computing can be used to do things like analyze speech patterns to diagnose and monitor psychosis and schizophrenia; or analyze written words to predict relapse or cognitive decline in consumers. The rise of these systems will change the way health care professionals predict, monitor, and track conditions – allowing for more automated tools and thorough and consistent tracking of consumers (see Cognitive Computing & Big Data: How They Will Shape The Future Of Care Delivery).
“Lab on a chip” technology will help detect and monitor health conditions: New technology is enabling a single silicon chip that relies on nanotechnology to do what currently takes a full-scale, fully staffed biochemistry lab. According to Gustavo Stolovitzky, Program Director of Translational Systems Biology and Nanobiotechnology at IBM Research, “Nanobiotechnology techniques will allow us to examine and filter bodily fluids for tiny bioparticles that reveal signs of disease like cancer before we have any symptoms” (see IBM 5 in 5: Medical labs “on a chip” will serve as health detectives for tracing disease at the nanoscale). Smart watches, smartphones, and handheld devices can be turned into tools that can monitor our health care non-invasively 24/7 – enabling early detection of diseases and giving clinicians a more complete view of a consumer’s health.
If you think these technologies sound too futuristic to seriously factor into your strategic plans, consider this great perspective from Mr. Rhinehart – “This is an important breakthrough considering that nearly 20% of individuals in the United States alone will experience a mental health condition sometime in their life. Cognitive assessment technologies like this can impact a range of neurological (Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.) and mental health (depression or psychosis) conditions while also increasing the options for access to care.”
For years, we have watched technology remake the lives of consumers with a wide range of health conditions; remake the systems to support those consumers; and remake the expectations of the consumers themselves. These technologies are representative of a larger trend towards greater automation, remote monitoring, and decision support tools that enable population health management at a larger scale (see ‘Must Have’ Technologies For Cutting Edge Population Management and Data > Information = Population Health Management). So while I don’t think you need to consider how to incorporate AI and nanochips into your organization next year, you do need to think about how the use of technology and data analytics will shape your organization in a market built on value-based care.
To learn more about how technology could change the health and human services landscape, be sure to mark your calendars for The 2017 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute on November 7-8, 2017, at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where we will explore the latest technology innovations and how payer and provider organizations are incorporating new technologies into their latest population health management strategies.