No need for doctors in the future?

Technological advances like Star Trek’s “Tricorder” affect healthcare faster and deeper than we seem to be aware of. It poses the legitimate (and serious) question whether we will need physicians anymore in the future!

This post is inspired by recent events, when I was approached to moderate a controversial discussion with an expert panel at an international health innovation event in Europe.  The topic featured:  “Disruptive Innovation in Medicine:  Will physicians soon be obsolete?”

Science Fiction – for real?

50 years ago the original TV series “Star Trek” introduced a most fascinating and visionary healthcare device, the ‘Tricorder.’  Remember how Doctor McCoy (and his successors in more recent Start Trek versions) perform comprehensive medical examinations by simply moving the device over the patient’s body to diagnose their condition?

This technology is now becoming reality, user test are scheduled to start in September 2016. – The question is, how will it influence the medical profession?  Will we need physicians in the future and if so, will their work be different for what they do today?

Stuck in today’s medical factory model

Let’s take a quick step back to look at why the Tricorder changes the paradigm of the past centuries as well as our current healthcare system, where the physician plays a key role to diagnose and treat our illnesses.

The internet led to a decline of our reliance on the medical experts around us (at least for the bulk of non-emergency care).  Patients and caregivers discovered the abundance of online content to gain broader and deeper insights into health topics, to find up-to-date research information or to explore new treatment options.  Global online communities of patients and caregivers form around numerous illnesses to share and exchange information and individual experiences across disciplines and borders.

Nowadays patients often enter a doctor’s office armed with research results and specific therapy options as well as a keen awareness of their own economic power pushing the physician towards delivering on the patient’s specific requests.  From a patient’s perspective, in many cases, the physician degraded from a consulting health professional to a dispenser for prescriptions.

The physician on the other hand is limited by what diagnosis and treatment options the payers allow, i.e. are willing to pay for, and remains trapped spending much time to navigate a bureaucracy established by the various insurers and payers.  Not being able to focus on practicing medicine but distracted by administration is frustrating also for physicians, who have stepped up to improve the patients’ health to the best of their abilities.

Frustration with today’s health factory model (image: whatsnext.nuance.com)

 

It does not surprise that a typical medical practice -from a patient’s perspective- looks like a factory: the patients get lined-up while the doctor hops from one to another in an efficient flow spending minimum time on each individual.

Overall, we already know our healthcare system being not overly efficient and way too expensive.  From a patient’s perspective, it’s focus feels far off their individual health and care.

Beyond the limits of human capability

Even the best trained physician remains a human being with biases and limitation just as everyone else.  We can also not realistically expect a physician to keep up with the 5,000 latest research articles on heart disease alone, to digest and interpret them as well as translating them swiftly into their medical practice.

At the same time, computers with artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning algorithms are already becoming capable of providing better and more treatment options with fewer errors with quick access to the internet’s vast sources of medical data and the most recent healthcare information for all kinds of user groups.

The picture is not much different for the “self-informed patient.”  It is in the nature of the (online) beast that some information sources are more credible than others, which induces significant risk for layman consumers of this information.  Incomplete, cherry-picked and at times questionable, outright wrong or inapplicable medical information in untrained hands can do more ill than good for the patient.

It’s a race that humans cannot win anymore, neither patients nor doctors.

The next step: Fiction becoming reality

The Tricorder can be seen as a way as the next evolution of automation – scary as it might sound initially, freeing up the physician and medical staff for other tasks may not be a bad thing.

It is a big step towards ‘automating healthcare’ by building an affordable and mobile diagnostic device that can reliably detect the presence or absence of an array of common illnesses better than an individual physician.  This is what the ongoing Qualcomm ‘Tricorder’ X-Prize challenge is about.

What the final design will look like, we will see.  Here is a glimpse by two of the seven finalist teams.

Images: Scanadu (left), Dexter/Final Frontier (right)

It awards $10,000,000 for a mobile device that cover vital signs, consumer experience, and diagnostics across a set of 12 distinct diseases as well as their absence.  In fact, the winning device needs to cover indications from a variety of medical fields (see below table, source: X-Prize) with its results beating ten board-certified physicians.

Tricorder X-Prize requirements

The winner(s) are to be announced in just a few months out.  To my surprise, this groundbreaking innovation challenge goes widely unnoticed – at least in Europe, from my recent observation.

A new side of healthcare

The Tricorder will only be the first version of a new class of healthcare technology.  The first Tricorders may become available at the entrance to hospitals, medical practices, workplaces or in public health kiosks already in place at Walgreen, CVS and there alike over the coming years.  They may pop up everywhere you hang out and have a few minutes to spare.  Perhaps, you will have to undergo a quick screen of your health status to ensure the absence of contagious diseases before entering areas with many or vulnerable people such as nurseries, retirement homes or entertainment events.

Imagine how fast the second and third version will aim high with added features, miniaturization, better portability, user convenience, lowering cost, and so on.  Order your own Tricorder via Amazon or pick it up at BestBuy or the Apple store.  Some of its functionality may become available part of your next ever-smarter smartphone, smartwatch or other wearable device.

As a bottom-line, you will no longer need to see your doctor for a diagnosis.  You may even collect relevant vital signs or perform a laboratory test on your own device anytime and anywhere.

Medical doctors –  a dying profession?

With technology delivering affordable quality results, the key question remains: what happens to the physicians and their staff if key responsibilities such as a reliable diagnosis and selecting the most promising treatment may no longer be in their job description?

It seems obvious that most of what doctors and their administrative helpers do today may not be needed in the future.  We already see trends emerging that drive radiologists, for example, out of their diagnostics business:

  • Cancer Research UK crowd-sourced identifying cancer by asking citizens to participate and commissioning a Genes in Space game for mobile devices designed to actually map patterns that help scientists spot DNA faults.

 

  • In recent competitions artificial intelligence (AI) systems get “strikingly close” to humans in detecting breast cancer, for example.

Where did the medical doctors go?

Technology will take over triage, diagnosis and decision-making regarding treatment options.  Much of the administrative staff becomes obsolete.  Fewer doctors will be needed.  Their focus shifts to delivering the much-needed empathetic human care – and this may not be a bad thing, since this critical field of care seemed to have lost its place in the medical practices today.

It will open a new competition with nurses who already occupy much of this care space today and at a more affordable cost.  Where exactly the line will be drawn time will tell.

 My question to you

– How do you envision the future of medical professionals to change?
Please share your thoughts!

(image: pinterest.com)

Digital Transformation at ‘Life-Science meets Telco7’ on April 14, 2016

Meet me in Bonn, Germany on April 14, 2016 for the 7th installation of DeTeCon’s Life-Science meets Telco series.

This year‘s event focuses on a very special aspect of the Digital Transformation – the cross-industry collaboration and exchange.

How can digitalization be implemented to make a difference in every patient’s life? What best practices from other industries can be transferred to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries? These and many more questions we will answer at this year’s event.

You can expect a great atmosphere for networking as well as exciting discussions on:

  • What is the role of the Digital Transformation for Pharma?
  • Importance of the collaboration between Life Sciences & ICT: current changes in ICT.

Don’t miss this opportunity! Save the date and stay tuned for more information!

 

Join Masterclass webinar: “Beyond-the-Pill” Disruptive Innovation within Pharma, Feb. 23, 2016

The pharmaceutical industry struggles with the fundamental changes of the healthcare systems worldwide. For many reasons, the traditional mindset and business models of the past are failing today. New approaches are needed for innovation “beyond the pill” to stay profitable and ahead of competitors.

But how to change a large organization bottom up and from within?

Sign up for the Masterclass: “Beyond-the-Pill” Disruptive Innovation within the Pharmaceutical Industry webinar hosted by the Intrapreneurship Conference at 5-7pm CET (11am-1pm ET) on February 23, 2016!

Intrapreneurship Conference

Why?  The pharmaceutical industry struggles with the fundamental changes of the healthcare systems worldwide. For many reasons, the traditional mindset and the business models of the past are failing. New approaches are needed for innovation “beyond the pill” to stay profitable and ahead of competitors.

But how to change a large organization bottom up and from within?

This session offers you a unique birds-eye and worms-eye view on pharma innovation and its shortcomings under the current paradigm, before diving into real-life case studies of intrapreneuring, disruptive transformation and strategic innovations within and beyond a Global FORTUNE 500 pharma company.

Join this masterclass and learn on how to bring intrapreneuring and transformation to life in a large pharma company.

Take my Intrapreneuring workshop at ePharma Summit! NYC, 24-Feb-2015

Join me for my intrapreneuring workshop at the 2015 ePharma Summit in New York City!


 Be Heard! A Hands-On Workshop for Future Leaders Ready to Take Action

When:     Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 1:30PM
Where:    New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10019
Sign up using the discount code XP2006SPKSK and save 15% off the standard registration rates!

Beginning in 2012, Boehringer Ingelheim launched a global initiative to encourage more intrapreneurial spirit of employees and offer them a platform that enables generating and implementing disruptive innovations across the organization to either decrease expenditures or increase revenue. With a focus on developing and executing game changing ideas, part of this initiative is focused on providing associate-level executives with the tools they need to evaluate their ideas and best position them when pitching them to more senior management.

  • Frame your idea for a successful pitch
  • Create a compelling business case that resonates with senior management
  • Break through the red tape: navigating around internal barriers and finding allies

 

About ePharma

ePharma is the incubator for cultivating a diverse and innovative digital marketing plan to help you move your commercial initiatives forward.

Augment your expertise, dissect current biopharma trends, and uncover new opportunities at ePharma. Get the tools to build robust, cost efficient marketing campaigns over three days of tactical and strategic learning.

New for 2015:

  • Discover how innovations such as wearables, mHealth apps and nano technology impact health and patient care and what the best plays are for an integrated marketing campaign.
  • Learn how to pitch your entrepreneur product to a venture capitalist. Highlights include a checklist for sellers to address the needs of users.
  • Hear out-of-industry case studies from retail and publishing highlighting the success of using digital and traditional mediums.

 

Join me at the 5th Annual Pharma PPM Toolbox in Basel/Switzerland, Mar. 6, 2015

Join me at the 5th Annual Pharma PPM Toolbox in Basel/Switzerland on March 5-6, 2015!

Presentation at 3pm on March 6, 2015

Come to discuss my talk about “Changing employee mindset to boost collaboration and engagement for extreme business results”

  • How to overcome innovation hurdles in large organizations
  • How to build an entrepreneurial culture within your company to respond to change quickly
  • Measuring success beyond money – behavior change for best practices and boosting ROI

Workshop at 3:30pm on March 6, 2015

And take my Intrapreneuring Workshop “Building an innovation framework to design, launch and execute business projects”
The workshop participants experience the role of an intrapreneur to bring a project to life using disruptive methods and collaboration.

  • Innovation Barriers and Assessment
  • Becoming an Intrapreneur
  • Resistance, Sponsor and Team
  • Prototyping, Pitching and Investor Insights
  • Implementation considerations

About the Conference

Pharma companies stand on a cross-road for a few years now.  They can choose to stick to their old ways that will probably slowly kill their business or successfully adapt to the reality of continuously shrinking pipelines and growing obstacles.

The 5th Annual Pharma PPM Toolbox will provide you with fresh ideas and solutions from experts who work hard to keep up with uncompromising market demands.

The Future of Pharma: Calls Moving to Consults (video)

Calls Moving to Consults is a thought leadership video in the “10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015” series that was hosted by the stellar Richie Etwaru, Chief Digital Officer with Cegedim.

This video addresses the question:  How can the pharmaceutical industry reskill representatives to be knowledgeable consultants to physicians?

Today, sales expertise is not enough. The pharmaceutical representative needs to be a broker of information. Physicians now have very limited time – and dictate when they can meet with representatives, from whom they need comprehensive information that they can pass along to their increasingly educated patients.

In this video, Jo Ann Saitta, Chief Digital Officer of the CDM Group, Stephan Klaschka, Innovation and Healthcare Consultant, and moderator, Richie Etwaru, Chief Digital Officer at Cegedim, examine this shift and the challenges pharmaceutical companies may face in properly retraining their people. These challenges include: adopting a culture of learning agility; integrating silos of information; having the ability to serve up dynamic content; and training representatives to utilize technologies that will maximize their brief but demanding visits with physicians.

Use this link to watch all 10 videos in the series on YouTube directly – enjoy!

  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Communication moving to Collaboration
    • Angela Miccoli
    • Wendy Mayer
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Content moving to Context
    • James Corbett
    • Craig DeLarge
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Care moving to Cure
    • Michael DePalma
    • John Nosta
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Compliance moving to Culture
    • Bill Buzzeo
    • Gus Papandrikos
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Supply Chains moving to Supply Constellations
    • Ray Wang
    • Aron Dutta
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Customization moving to Configuration
    • Tracy Maines
    • Krishna Cheriath
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Customer moving to Consumer
    • Paul Kandle
    • Mark Stevens
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Calls moving to Consults
    • Jo Ann Saitta
    • Stephan Klaschka
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015 – Cloud moving to Crowd
    • Les Jordan
    • Krishnan Sridharan
  • 10 Inevitable Changes in Pharma 2015- Charity moving to Cause
    • Janet Carlson
    • Beth Bengtson

Eyeforpharma interview “Taking the entrepreneurial approach”

Read this insightful “Taking the entrepreneurial approach” interview conducted by Eyeforpharma on the impact of hierarchy and how executive mindset inhibits adapting to the rapidly changing commercial landscape.  It outlines how “intrapreneurs” and internal “angel investors” can get large, mature organizations moving again!